Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pépère and Louie stuffing boudin
Making Boudin

I decided I just had to have some fresh real boudin yesterday, so I made the pilgrimage to Fiesta Grocery (the only place in Austin I have been able to find pork liver so far) and HEB (for pork trimmings and pork shoulder roast). I used my boudin recipe (see my July 9 '07 post) as best I could- I ran one cup short of rice but it doesn't matter, just means a meatier sausage- and it was great fun, if rather an all-day sucker.

I got to use my new (very old) Enterprise sausage stuffer for the first time and once I had all the parts in the right places, that baby put out six pounds of boudin in about ten minutes, unlike the little stuffer attachment I had been using with my big pro mixer. My grandson Louie helped, learning some actual (as opposed to some phony-ass hypocrite politician's) family values along the way...

I also made up a batch of Toulouse sausage and some venison sausage. Our wonderful new next-door neighbors, Denis and Page, brought us some really superb Axis deer meat that they had hunted recently. He also informed me that he had killed a feral hog and was having it dressed and butchered, which gave me chills of anticipation just thinking about the things I could do with some of that wild pork meat. If there is in fact a merciful God, I think he just proved it to me again.

I cut and seasoned the sausage meats and put them in the fridge to cure overnight, so that the salts and seasonings could actually enter into the intersticial tissues of the meat and fat before I grind them today.

I have Kimmie's grandfather's sausage grinder, a very old one that he used to make sausage out of everything from armadillo to deer to possum. He'd make wine from wild Texas Mustang grapes and from the Italian grapes he had planted too. We'd have gotten along just fine. I like to try to imagine the farm housewife who owned that Enterprise, and all the fruit and sausage and lard (it is also a basket press) and wine she used it to put up. It gives me a deep-down pleasure to use old things, especially if they belonged to an ancestor. I have my grandmother Alene's cast-iron skillet and Revere saucepans and my Grandfather Cecil's 30-30 saddle carbine and a rose bush taken from my other grandfather, Tobe's, garden. Tobe was a cowboy who grew up herding Texas Longhorns on his father's ranch, then became a gasoline plant super, but who grew roses with his thick cowboy hands. I like that. Grandmama Alene was French and the best fried-chicken cook in Stephens County and she too was known to make her own breakfast pan-sausage, redolent of sage, because she knew hers was better than that old store-bought stuff any day...

Breckinridge, Main Street, 1920, Stephens County, Texas

So today I will grind the meat in old Mijo's hand-cranked machine and then press the sausage mixture through the old Enterprise black beauty into the pork gut and freeze it, ready to be made into Cassoulet and Choucroute Garni. The venison/pork mixture will be spicier, with plenty of cayenne, garlic, and coriander seed, sage, thyme, and of course lots of salt. I will then smoke it at around 200 degrees for many hours in my big backyard smoker with the firebox off to the side so the flames never see the meat at all, just the hot smoky air as it passes over it on the way up the chimney at the other end. That sausage will be mahogany-colored, smoky, and assertive, like Texans have learned to make from our German and Czech immigrants.

Toulouse sausage is a fresh, coarsely ground pork link with nothing in it but salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg, which makes it interesting. We have had sausages much like it all across southern Europe, from Venice to Aix to the Basque coast on the Atlantic ocean as it washes the beaches of Spain. Many of them have nothing in them but salt and pepper, period. Some of them have Quatre Epices, especially the "white" ones like Bratwurst or Boudin Blanc. It took some getting used to years ago, when I thought all sausage was garlicky, smoked, and very much like a Kielbasa-type. However, now I would be horrified to find one of those smoked babies in my Cassoulet or my Fagioli con la salsiccia. Gumbo, now that's another story...

Here's a great sausage dish I learned in the little Jura village of Morteau, famous for its Sausage of Jesus, which is traditional in the French Reveille Christmas celebration:

Smoked Pork Sausages Morteau

At the Boulangerie Jeannot in the French village of Morteau, Jean sells his version of the renowned Le Jesus de Morteau sausage. This is a lightly smoked coarsely ground pork sausage with no garlic. One of the wonderful things about talking to a real butcher is that Jean will also advise you on the ideal way to cook the products he sells.

A golden, smoked
Le Jesus de Morteau and a foot stuffed with the same sausage meat.

Homestyle Saucisse au Vin Blanc:

1 lb lightly smoked pork sausage, preferably without garlic seasoning. A fresh pork sausage will also work.
1 T. butter
1 lb. Small new potatoes
1 med yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 bottle light white wine- Alsatian or other inexpensive dry Reisling
1 T. Tomato paste
Handful of fresh Thyme or 1/4 t. dried
1 bay leaf
fresh minced parsley
In an earthenware casserole, heat the butter over medium heat and brown the sausage. Add the onion and cook five more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, leaving the covering slightly ajar to permit steam to escape. Cook at a slow simmer for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked. Serves 4.