Archive for January, 2016

I did two pounds of Martino’s basic sausage recipe, but altered it from my earlier test as follows:

  • 2 lb pork and fat
  • 4 tsp salt (more than I used last time, but I’m not smoking it, so need a bit more preservative)
  • 1/4 tsp Cure #2 (for safety)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp dried fennel
  • 1/4 tsp Fermento

For the Menagier recipe I used:

  • 1 lb pork and fat
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp Cure #2
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1tsp dried fennel
  • 1/2 tsp poudre douce
  • 1/8 tsp Fermento


The Martino sausage is on the left, and the two on the right are Menagier versions.I had to do lots of pin pricking to ensure there were no air bubbles, but I think they’ll be okay.


I’m pleased with the colour and dryness after just five days.


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A while ago, I had a conversation with someone on my medieval sausage Facebook group about salami. I haven’t been able to find a medieval recipe that gave me the flavour and texture I was looking for. He suggested I go back to the basic Italian recipes and also to look at modern finocchiona. A few days ago I did just that. I made the salami finocchiona from http://www.meatandsausages.com, and decided that Maestro Martino’s version of lucanian sausage was the closest (https://siglindesarts.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/i-made-sausages-and-boy-are-my-feet-tired/).

The finocchiona had
400 g pork
400 gbeef
200 gr pork fat
5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Cure #2
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp whole dried fennel seeds
1 small clove of garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp Chianti
.1 g fermenting culture

I ground the meat and mixed in the other ingreidents, then stuffed it into casings and hung the sausages over the shower curtain rod in the basement bathroom (normally used for storing camping gear and brewing experiments, so no worries that someone would decide to use the shower). After hanging it there for about 72 hours, I moved it to the hooks in my unheated store room. It’s cooler there, but still well above freezing. The sausages will hang there for the next month, or until my kg of sausage has dried and shrunk down to about 700g of sausage.


So what have I learned?

a) Texture matters. I made the Martino sausage using my kitchen aid to chop the meat. This time, I used my old-fashioned hand grinder, and I diced some of the meat by hand.

b) Sharp blades matter. Tonight I sharpened all the blades on my meat grinder because it just wasn’t up to cutting the meat instead of mushing it.

c) Dicing the fat by hand will help you remove all the extra connective tissue that fouls the blade in a hand grinder if you try and grind the fat and meat together.

d) The colder the meat, the easier to grind. Slightly frozen might be very good for next time.

e) No matter how cold I try to smoke my sausages, they just don’t end up with the same lovely texture and flavour of fermented dried sausages. I really like the dry cures best.

f) Dry cured sausages are healthy. Since fat is no longer supposed to be bad for us, if I use decent locally-raised, organic free range pork, don’t smoke it, and end up with something so full of flavour that a tiny bit will go a very long way, I can rationalize these sausages as good for me and good for the planet. Okay, this part is just a rationalization so I can eat them, but there is a grain of truth here.















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New Books!

With amazing documentation! I have weeks of delicious reading ahead of me.

First up is Nawal Nasrallah’s “Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens: Ib Sayyar al-Warraq’s Tenth-Century Baghdadi Cookbook” (Brill, Leiden and Boston: 2010). I had ordered it because another reference indicated it had sausage recipes, and it came through in spades. Chapter 36 is about making large intestine sausages, small intestine sausages and stuffed pastries. Five of the recipes are for variants of laqaniq. Doesn’t that sound like lucanian or loukaniko sausage?

The second is Geoponika: A Modern Translation of the Roman and Byzantine Farming Handbook by Andrew Dalby (Prospect Books, Totnes: 2011). Page 92 (Book 2, 33) has documentation for yeast bread. Technically, it is more of a negative documentation, but it gives instructions on how to make yeast cakes for storage, to be used when you need them, instead of yeast. From this, I understand that must was the most common source of yeast. There is also a whole chapter on how to get rid of vermin, pests and insects. I can’t wait to dig in more, as there are chapters on farm management, plants, wines, and animal husbandry.

My third new treasure is Eat and Be Satisfied: A Social History of Jeish Food by John Cooper (Jason Aronson, Northvale New Jersey: 1993). This covers a much broader time period, but is tightly focused on a single dietary regime.

Finally, I have lace-related goodies:

The newest is The Early Lace Workbook: Bobbin Lace Techniques before the Baroque (Rosemary Shepherd, Lace Press Australia: 2009) had me captivated over the holidays. It has been many years since I read a lace book cover to cover. It is full of research around early laces in art, and the author’s experiments with recreating them. I can’t wait to clear off a pillow so I can start playing with this one.

I also have all five of Gilian Dye’s early lace books: Elizabethan Lace, Gold & Silver Edgings, The Isham Samples and Other Linen Edgings, Surface Decoration in Silk and Metallic Thread, and Insertions & Borders (all Cleveden Press, Glasgow, 2009-2015). The last four books are particularly interesting for their documentation and explanations of technique, but the first is rather fun because she takes period laces and uses them to make modern designs such as earrings.

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