One of America’s Favorites – Sausage

June 4, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Posted in Food | 1 Comment
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A sausage is a food usually made from ground meat (normally pork or beef), mixed with salt, herbs, and other spices with a tough skin

Kiełbasa Biała (white sausage), Szynkowa (smoked), Śląska, and Podhalańska styles (Poland)

around it, although vegetarian sausages are available. The word sausage is derived from Old French saussiche, from the Latin word salsus, meaning salted.

Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made from intestine, but sometimes synthetic. Some sausages are cooked during processing and the casing may be removed after.

Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying, or smoking.

Sausage is a logical outcome of efficient butchery. Traditionally, sausage makers put tissues and organs which are edible and nutritious, but not particularly appealing[citation needed] – such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat – in a form that allows for preservation: typically, salted and stuffed into a tubular casing made from the cleaned intestine of the animal, producing the characteristic cylindrical shape. Hence, sausages, puddings, and salami are among the oldest of prepared foods, whether cooked and eaten immediately or dried to varying degrees.

Early humans made the first sausages by stuffing roasted intestines into stomachs. The Greek poet Homer mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey, Epicharmus wrote a comedy titled The Sausage, and Aristophanes’ play The Knights is about a sausage-vendor who is elected leader. Evidence suggests that sausages were already popular both among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and most likely with the illiterate tribes occupying the larger part of Europe.

The most famous sausage in ancient Italy was from Lucania (modern Basilicata) and was called lucanica, a name which lives on in a variety of modern sausages in the Mediterranean. During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, sausages were associated with the Lupercalia festival. Early in the 10th century during the Byzantine Empire, Leo VI the Wise outlawed the production of blood sausages following cases of food poisoning.

Traditionally, sausage casings were made of the cleaned intestines, or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings.

German Wurst: liver sausage, blood sausage, and ham sausage

Today, however, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose, or even plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages. Some forms of sausage, such as sliced sausage, are prepared without a casing. Additionally, luncheon meat and sausage meat are now available without casings in tin cans and jars.

The most basic sausage consists of meat, cut into pieces or ground, and filled into a casing. The meat may be from any animal, but traditionally is pork, beef, or veal. The meat to fat ratio is dependent upon the style and producer, but in the United States, fat content is legally limited to a maximum of 30%, 35% or 50%, by weight, depending on the style. The United States Department of Agriculture defines the content for various sausages and generally prohibits fillers and extenders. Most traditional styles of sausage from Europe and Asia use no bread-based filler and are 100% meat and fat excluding flavorings. In the UK and other countries with English cuisine traditions, bread and starch-based fillers account for up to 25% of ingredients. The filler used in many sausages helps them to keep their shape as they are cooked. As the meat contracts in the heat, the filler expands and absorbs the moisture lost from the meat.

Classifications of sausage

Sausages classification is subject to regional differences of opinion. Various metrics such as types of ingredients, consistency, and preparation are used. In the English-speaking world, the following distinction between fresh, cooked, and dry sausages seems to be more or less accepted:

*Cooked sausages are made with fresh meats, and then fully cooked. They are either eaten immediately after cooking or must be refrigerated. Examples include hot dogs, Braunschweiger, and liver sausage.
*Cooked smoked sausages are cooked and then smoked or smoke-cooked. They are eaten hot or cold, but need to be refrigerated. Examples include kielbasa and mortadella. Some are slow cooked while smoking, in which case the process takes several days or longer, such as the case for Gyulai kolbász.
*Fresh sausages are made from meats that have not been previously cured. They must be refrigerated and thoroughly cooked before eating. Examples include Boerewors, Italian pork sausage, siskonmakkara, and breakfast sausage.
*Fresh smoked sausages are fresh sausages that are smoked and cured. They do not normally require refrigeration and do not require any further cooking before eating. Examples include Mettwurst and Teewurst.
*Dry sausages are cured sausages that are fermented and dried. They are generally eaten cold and will keep for a long time. Examples include salami, Droë wors, Finnish meetvursti, Sucuk, Landjäger, and summer sausage.
*Bulk sausage, or sometimes sausage meat, refers to raw, ground, spiced meat, usually sold without any casing.
*Vegetarian sausage refers to sausages made without meat, for example, with soya protein or with tofu or with herbs and spices. Vegetarian sausages are frequently sold in supermarkets, although it should be said that many vegetarian sausages sold in supermarkets may be vegetarian but are not vegan, for they may contain ingredients such as eggs.

The distinct flavor of some sausages is due to fermentation by Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, or Micrococcus (added as starter cultures) or natural flora during curing.

Other countries, however, use different systems of classification. Germany, for instance, which boasts more than 1200 types of sausage, distinguishes raw, cooked and precooked sausages.

*Raw sausages are made with raw meat and are not cooked. They are preserved by lactic acid fermentation, and they may be dried,

Sausages from Réunion

brined or smoked. Most raw sausages will keep for a long time. Examples include Mettwurst and salami.
*Cooked sausages may include water and emulsifiers and are always cooked. They will not keep long. Examples include cervelat, Jagdwurst, and Weißwurst.
*Precooked sausages (Kochwurst) are made with cooked meat but may also include raw organ meat. They may be heated after casing, and they will keep only for a few days. Examples include Saumagen and Blutwurst.

In Italy, the basic distinctions are:

*Raw sausage (salsiccia) with a thin casing
*Cured and aged sausage (salsiccia stagionata or salsiccia secca)
*Cooked sausage (wuerstel)
Blood sausage (sanguinaccio or boudin)
*Liver sausage (salsiccia di fegato)
*Salami (in Italy, salami is the plural of salame, a big, cured, fermented and air-dried sausage)
*Cheese sausage (casalsiccia) with cheese inside

The United States has a particular type called pickled sausages, commonly found in gas stations and small roadside delicatessens. These are usually smoked or boiled sausages of a highly processed hot dog or kielbasa style plunged into a boiling brine of vinegar, salt, spices, and often a pink coloring, then canned in Mason jars. They are available in single blister packs or sold out of a jar. They are shelf stable, and they are a frequently offered alternative to beef jerky, Slim Jims, and other kippered snacks.

The most common Mexican sausage by far is chorizo. It is fresh and usually deep red in color (in most of the rest of Latin America, chorizo is uncolored and coarsely chopped). Some chorizo is so loose that it spills out of its casing as soon as it is cut; this crumbled chorizo is a popular filling for torta sandwiches, eggs, breakfast burritos and tacos. Salchichas, longaniza (a long, thin, coarse chopped pork sausage) and head cheese are also widely consumed.

North American breakfast or country sausage is made from uncooked ground pork mixed with pepper, sage, and other spices. It is widely sold in grocery stores in a large synthetic plastic casing, or in links which may have a protein casing. It is also available sold by the pound without a casing. It can often be found on a smaller scale in rural regions, especially in southern states, where it is either fresh patties or in links with either natural or synthetic casings as well as smoked. This sausage is most similar to English style sausages and has been made in the United States since colonial days. It is commonly sliced into small patties and pan-fried, or cooked and crumbled into scrambled eggs or gravy. Scrapple is a pork-based breakfast meat that originated in the Mid-Atlantic States. Other uncooked sausages are available in certain regions in link form, including Italian, bratwurst, chorizo, and linguica.

In Louisiana, there is a variety of sausage that is unique to its heritage, a variant of andouille. Unlike the original variety native to

Frankfurter sausage.

Northern France, Louisiana andouille has evolved to be made mainly of pork butt, not tripe, and tends to be spicy with a flavor far too strong for the mustard sauce that traditionally accompanies French andouille: prior to casing, the meat is heavily spiced with cayenne and black pepper. The variety from Louisiana is known as Tasso ham and is often a staple of both Cajun and Creole cooking. Traditionally it is smoked over pecan wood or sugar cane as a final step before being ready to eat. In Cajun cuisine boudin is also popular.

The frankfurter or hot dog is the most common pre-cooked sausage in the United States and Canada. If proper terminology is observed in manufacture and marketing (it often is not), “frankfurters” are more mildly seasoned, “hot dogs” more robustly so. Another popular variation is the corn dog, which is a hot dog that is deep fried in cornmeal batter and served on a stick.

A common and very popular regional sausage in the Trenton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA areas is pork roll.

Other popular ready-to-eat sausages, often eaten in sandwiches, include salami, American-style bologna, Lebanon bologna, prasky, liverwurst, and head cheese. Pepperoni and Italian crumbles are popular pizza toppings.

Sausages may be served as hors d’œuvres, in a sandwich, in a bread roll as a hot dog, wrapped in a tortilla, or as an ingredient in dishes such as stews and casseroles. It can be served on a stick (like the corn dog) or on a bone as well. Sausage without casing is called “sausage meat” and can be fried or used as stuffing for poultry, or for wrapping foods like Scotch eggs. Similarly, sausage meat encased in puff pastry is called a sausage roll.

Sausages are almost always fried in oil, served for any meal, particularly breakfast or lunch and often “sweet sausages” have been created which are made with any of the above: dried fruit, nuts, caramel and chocolate, bound with butter and sugar. These sweet sausages are refrigerated rather than fried and usually, however, served for dessert rather than as part of a savory course.

Sausages can also be modified to use indigenous ingredients. Mexican styles add oregano and the “guajillo” red pepper to the Spanish chorizo to give it an even hotter spicy touch.

Certain sausages also contain ingredients such as cheese and apple, or types of vegetable.

Vegetarian and vegan sausages are also available in some countries, or can be made from scratch. These may be made from tofu, seitan, nuts, pulses, mycoprotein, soya protein, vegetables or any combination of similar ingredients that will hold together during cooking. These sausages, like most meat-replacement products, generally fall into two camps: some are shaped, colored, flavored, etc. to replicate the taste and texture of meat as accurately as possible; others such as the Glamorgan sausage rely on spices and vegetables to lend their natural flavor to the product and no attempt is made to imitate meat.

The soya sausage was invented 1916 in Germany. First known as “Kölner Wurst” (= Cologne Sausage) by later German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967).

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