View single post by javal1
 Posted: Tue Jan 24th, 2006 07:08 pm
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Grumpy Geezer

Joined: Thu Sep 1st, 2005
Location: Tennessee USA
Posts: 1503

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Albert, this is from Xan (our cookbook editor who is having problems logging on):

Smoking is good for you

 Well, this is not likely to closely resemble the “summer sausage” you get at Hickory Farms, but this is what I’ve got from period sources. While there had been fairly major German immigration to the US since at least the Revolution of 1848, those folks brought their own cookbooks with them and the damn things were in German. I have yet to find a book from earlier than the 1880s published in English. It seems likely that the popularity of German—and other ethnic—foods among the wider population came about from soldiers exposed to them during the Civil War, so this is certainly on topic.

 From “The Kentucky Housekwife,” Mrs. Lettice Bryan, 1839:

Take eight pounds of tender, fresh beef; mix with it two pounds of the tender parts of pork, and two pounds of fresh, hard lumps of suet; chop them fine, and beat them to one perfect mass Mix with it a small portion of grated bread, and season it with salt, pepper, sifted sage, grated nutmeg and minced onions. Work it very well together, make it a little moist with water, and having some skins neatly prepared, fill them with the sausage. Confine the ends with twine, to prevent the sausage coming out; pierce them with a fork in several places, and boil them slowly for half an hour, then rub them over with sweet oil and a very little cayenne pepper, and hang them up to dry. You may eat them cold, or broil, and serve them on toast. To prepare the skins, take the small entrails from a  hog as soon as it is killed, empty them of their contents, wash and scrape them nicely, soak them in water, with a little salt, for forty-eight hours, shifting them once or twice, into fresh water, and lastly, soak them for a few hours in very weak vinegar, and scrape them well.

 Now you see the joys of working with 19th century recipes: you get your meat assembled, pounded, spiced, etc., then get to the end of the instructions and find out you need an item you should have started preparing two days earlier! (Longer than that depending on how long it takes you to track down a hog and persuade it to part with its lower entrails.)

 Unless your dedication to authenticity extends beyond all bounds of reason, I suggest using a food processor for the meat blending. “Grated bread” is what it sounds like but packaged bread crumbs from the store work perfectly well. Sweet oil is olive oil. The matter of the hog entrails we will gloss tastefully over, except to say that commercially-made sausage casings can be substituted.

 Further, this receipt is intended for home use, so it calls only for “drying” the resulting product for an unspecified period of time. Logic, and the logistics of hog-killing in the days before refrigeration, suggests that this would be made in the fall in anticipation of eating the results over the course of the ensuing year. Plain drying is unlikely to preserve meat safely for that long a time. This can lead to a disgusting mess in the knapsack, unpopularity and abuse from any messmates unlucky enough to be downwind of you, and minor matters like trips to the emergency room and death and stuff.

 Therefore it is recommended that your sausages be smoked. How to accomplish this depends on the resources you have available and is left as an exercise for the student. :D

Best of luck.

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