This classic French sausage is a great entry point for the novice to charcuterie. The technique is straightforward, the seasonings simple, and the curing can be done in a relatively forgiving environment, like a basement or garage, not requiring specialized equipment.
As with all cured meats, though, some specialized ingredients are involved, like dextrose, curing salt (also known as Insta Cure or Prague powder), and casings. Curing salt contains sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which stave off the development of the bacteria that cause botulism, and is therefore essential to the safety of this recipe.
A stand mixer with a meat grinding attachment will work fine for this recipe. Remember to keep everything very cold at all times. The meat should always be cold enough that it hurts your hands to handle too long. If it begins to warm, get everything in the coldest part of the refrigerator or even the freezer for a few minutes, repeating as necessary.
As the sausage hangs, the meat ferments. White mold will form on the outside of the casing. This is normal and desirable. After about three weeks, you'll have a firm salame-like sausage with balanced flavor and a sour tang from fermentation. Simply slice and enjoy with some crisp French bread and cornichon pickles. The French also enjoy it with very sharp Dijon mustard.
The recipe comes from The New Charcuterie Cookbook, by chef Jamie Bissonnette. Read the review on Punk Domestics.
- 4 1/2 lb/2 kg pork meat
- 1/2 lb/225 g fatback
- 1 1/2 oz/40 g kosher salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 oz/10 g black pepper (coarsely ground)
- 1/2 oz/15 g dextrose
- 1/4 oz/6 g curing salt no. 2
- 2/3 oz/18 g garlic (minced to a paste)
- 1/4 c/59 ml white wine (dry)
- 8 feet hog casing (or sheep casing, soaked in tepid water for 2 hours before use)
Set up the meat grinder, all metal parts from the freezer. Grind the pork meat and fatback on a large (3/4 in/1.9 cm) plate into a bowl sitting on ice. Use a paddle to mix in all other ingredients.
Keep the casing wet while you work with it. Slide the casing onto the funnel but don’t make a knot. Put the mixture in the stuffer and pack it down. Begin extruding. As the mixture comes out, pull the casing back over the nozzle and tie a knot.
Extrude one full coil, about 48 inches (1.3 m) long, and tie it off. Crimp with fingers to separate sausages into 12-inch (30-cm) lengths. Twist the casing once one way, then the other between each sausage link. Repeat this along the entire coil. Once the sausage is cased, use a sterile needle to prick any air pockets. Prick each sausage 4 or 5 times. Repeat the casing process to use remaining sausage.
Hang the sausages to cure 18 to 20 days at 60 F to 75 F / 18 C to 21 C. These can be refrigerated, wrapped, for up to 6 months.
Curing Meat Warning
Curing meat requires specific expertise and failure to cure meat properly may result in sickness or death. If you have no experience in this area, we advise you to consult an expert to teach you proper techniques and applications.
Great Resources on Curing Meat
Since curing meat requires such a specific skill set, otherwise, it can lead to illness or worse, we highly recommend consulting with an expert to teach you proper techniques. We found that the following four publications are super helpful guides and go in-depth about just such processes, procedures, and techniques:
- Charcuterie: The Art of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
- Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages by Stanley Marianski
- The River Cottage Smoking & Curing Handbook by Steven Lamb
- USDA’s Processing Procedures: Dried Meats