Saucisson Sec

This classic French sausage is so easy to make, thus it is good for the first timer who wants to make charcuterie. It's a simple technique which can result in outstanding results and it's a forgiving recipe. It can be hung in somewhere like a basement, garage or other cool outbuilding, and does not require specialized equipment.

As with all cured meats, cleanliness is essential and some specialized ingredients are required. These include such things as Curing Salt (also known as Prague powder) and Hog casings. Curing salt contains sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which helps prevent the development of harmful bacteria that can cause botulism, it is therefore viewed as essential to the safety of such recipes; however, as I have written before now, some people are of the opinion that the salts themselves can be just as harmful (see my Spanish Chorizo Recipe).

 

Ingredients

4½ lb (2 kg) pork meat, minced on a course setting

½ lb (225 g) fatback ask your butcher he will have some he uses to add to joints of meat, this too needs to be course minced or even diced by hand.

1½ oz (40 g) ordinary cooking salt or kosher salt.

¼ to ½ oz (10 g) black pepper, coarsely ground.

½ oz (15 g) Brown sugar or Dextrose

¼ oz (6 g) Curing Salt #2

2/3 oz (18 g) garlic, minced to a paste, add more if you like a strong flavour of Garlic.

½ cup (59 ml) dry white wine or Red if preferred, I think Red gives a better colour.

Hog casings, washed out and soaked in tepid water for 2 hours before use.

The above quantity should make about 7 sausages

 

Preparation

I use a food mixer with a meat mincing and sausage stuffing attachment to make all of my sausages; this works very well indeed (Fig 1). Try to keep your mix cold as this helps retain the fats in globule form. The mincing plate should be a large one, the largest that comes with the machine. You can use the dough hook to mix in all other ingredients but I do it by hand.

 

Once all of the ingredients are mixed together, put them into your sausage stuffer/food mixer and fill your sausage.

 

Keep the casing wet whilst working with it. Slide the casing onto the funnel then tie a knot on the end of the casing, once you begin extruding hold the skin back a little to ensure the end is fully filled up with mix.

 

Extrude one full coil, until you run out of mix, then tie off the other end. Decide the length of sausage you want and nip the extrusion with your fingers to separate sausages I would suggest lengths of no more than 12 inches (30cm). Nip and twist the casing once one way, then move to the next link and nip and twist the other way, repeat all the way along the entire coil.

 

I also tie butchers string in between each link down the whole length of the sausage. I do this for no reason other than the Italians do this with some sausages, it looks good and when you hang the links in one length, you can just remove the sausage and leave the rest to hang (Fig 2).

  Figure 1

Figure 2

 

Any air pockets or blisters can be removed by using a sterile needle to prick the pocket of air. Prick each sausage 4 or 5 times.

Hang the sausages to cure 18 to 20 days at 60°F-75°F (18°C-21°C). These can then be wrapped in foil and refrigerated, for up to 6 months.

As the sausage hangs, the meat ferments. White mould will form on the outside of the casing. This mould is part of the Penicilium Candidum family and quite normal, in fact, it's desirable. After about three weeks, you'll have a firm salami-like sausage with balanced flavour and a sour tang from the fermentation. If the sausage forms other coloured mould, this can be wiped away using a kitchen cloth that has been soaked in Malt Vinegar.

I hope you enjoy this lovely garlicky/meaty feast, it is a welcome addition to any Charcuterie platter. Simply slice and enjoy with some crisp French bread accompanied by Pickles or on its own. I think the French slice theirs too thickly – try slicing it very thin, it's so much easier to chew.