Another month and another Charcutepalooza challenge. Last month's hot smoking seems an age ago as I was on holiday in the mother country and Europe enjoying a few weeks being a lady of leisure. A few weeks back in the real world and it seems like it was so long ago. It doesn't take too long to get back in to the rhythm of day to day life and for holidays to become an ever more distant memory. I feel ready for another holiday, which sadly will have to wait for quite some time short of winning lotto or some other such fantastical windfall! In the mean time on to this month's Charcutepalooza challenge...
This month was sausages and who doesn't love a good sausage. And I mean a good sausage, not Cheerios New Zealand! A bizarre little sausage that is so popular here in NZ. I just can't understand the appeal of them. I think maybe you have to be born here to appreciate them and that it is some how inbuilt in to your DNA! Cheerios for the non Kiwis are often to be found at childrens' parties and are little sausages covered in some sort of bright red coating, and I mean bright red. According to their website they are "finely minced pork and beef, lightly seasoned and naturally woodsmoked for a quality flavour and taste. Filled into a distinctive red casing" I haven't been brave enough yet to give one a go!
But back to the good ones; the aroma of sausages frying and then popped in a fresh roll, with maybe a few fried onions, a little ketchup and you have one of life's very satisfying little pleasures. Juicy and literally bursting with flavour, that pop when you bite in to them to release their meaty goodness.
And there are so many options a spicy chorizo, sweet fennel, Bratwurst, Toulouse, Italian, Cumberland, Lincolnshire. An infinite number of combinations. I was tempted to try the chorizo, and that will be next up, but decided on merguez. Not a sausage I am overly familiar with but the combination of lamb, roasted red peppers, paprika, a little garlic and a good pinch of chilli flakes to give a little heat was just so appealing.
A little time required, yes, but not difficult and they are most definitely worth the effort and giving you that feeling of satisfaction you get from making something from scratch. It also allowed my to give the meat grinder for my
new baby Kitchen Aid a run. I foresee many more sausages and burgers in the future. Barbecuing next Summer is going to be a whole new adventure. For all things sausage and Charcutepalooza you should check out Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie.
These sausages were so full of flavour and so succulent. Though there really never was any risk of them drying out given the amount of pork back fat in there, but my goodness it makes for one amazing sausage and hey it's all natural. You can really taste the lamb which is sweetened by the roasted red peppers and then a layer of sweet spice from the paprika and then just a smidgen of heat from the chilli flakes. Like the bacon, the brining and the hot smoking doing it yourself is quite revelationary producing food that is just simply superlative to just about anything you could buy.
What to concoct with my sausages? I came across a recipe for Portuguese Soup, Caldo Verde, on a recent Cuisine newsletter and this is slightly adapted from there. I used some of my merguez mix and rolled them in to little meatballs.
Caldo Verde - Portuguese Soup with Potato, Merguez and Greens
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium - large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 spicy sausages sliced, or 180g spicy sausage meat rolled in to small balls.
6 small potatoes, large dice. I used waxy little Perlas
1 litre chicken stock, homemade or if bought use low sodium so that you can season to taste yourself.
3-4 cups chopped greens, I used kale, cavalo nero, spinach and swiss chard
Salt and pepper to taste
A little more iPhone v camera.
In a large heavy based saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, season with a little salt, and saute for a few minutes until they are translucent, 5-10 minutes. Add the sausage or meat balls and cook until they are browned.
Add the potatoes and the stock and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost cooked through. Add the greens and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Camera: Amazing what a little softening of the shadows can do!
A simple, rustic Autumnal lunch perfect with a some crusty bread to dunk and soak up all the soup. The broth is meaty and nourishing from the meat balls, comforting potato and the goodness of all those greens, a whole meal in a bowl.