Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The next project: Figatellu!
Spurred on by the unmitigated success of ‘project saucisson’, for my next trick I’ve decided to take the French theme provincial...
When I was on holiday in Corsica last summer we munched a lot of this smoky, porky, earthy sausage called figatellu – apparently an island speciality and something I’ve never seen anywhere else, let alone in the UK. So I’m harbouring this ambition to become the only man in Britain to be making his own figatellu (or at least to be able to delude myself that this is the case and tell this lie to my friends, who won’t care enough to go to the effort of proving otherwise).
Figatellu eating in Corsica last summer

The problem with being a trail-blazing wannabe figatellu-maker is that I’m not party to a great deal of info about this apparently rare sausage:
Firstly, and sadly, I don’t know any Corsican housewives, and not even resourceful housewife-magnet, sausage assistant and all-round ‘ideas’ man ‘Dr’ Simon Pick could think where I’d find one.
Secondly, the internet – usually reliable for turning-up at least a socially retarded blogger with strange hobbies (ahem) – has also let me down. And not just for recipes, but even for basic information (no, Wikipedia, I did not mean ‘Figarellu’ – the Venezuelan politician and engineer, or ‘Tellu Turkka’ – the Finnish fiddler and contemporary folk singer!).

The first image that came up when I 'google image'-searched 'figatellu'

The second image tha came up when I 'google image'-searched 'figatellu'.....that's a bit more like it

...So I’m going to have to make it up as I go along. Yes, I may die of botulism or – worse – produce a foul-tasting abomination of a sausage. But on the plus side, if it does come out well I will be able to bask in the glory not only of execution, but of creation!
Here’s what I know about figatellu:
·         It’s smoky
·         It’s garlicky
·         It contains pig’s liver
·         It’s thin (chipolata-like)
So I’m going to apply these principles to my basic saucisson sec recipe and see what happens: I’m going to go for a meat mixture of half pork shoulder (including 20% fat) and half pig’s liver, which will be stuffed into sheep casings (thin). Flavourings-wise, it’ll get a good hit of garlic and white pepper as well as a splash of red wine (I’m going on a hunch here, but it’s also there to lower the pH of the mix and discourage bacteria growth). Then the usual pile of salt, cure#2 and bacteria starter culture for the curing process. My flavouring theory is ‘keep it simple’, as the real uniqueness comes from the next stage: the smoking...
For this I’ve acquired a nifty new cold smoke generator. I’m yet to unleash it on my sausages, but from what I’ve seen it’s a really good piece of kit: it stands alone and can be placed in any makeshift smoking vessel (inkeeping with my ‘Womble’/tight Yorkshireman approach to equipment, my preference here will be a hi-tech cardboard box). I’ll be using chestnut dust....sadly not shaved from a Corsican forest, but hopefully imparting a similar flavour.

Cold smoke generating contraption

So that’s the plan. Liver-mincing and cardboard box burning update to follow...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Saucisson feedback part 2: Le petit gourmand
The second major outing for my saucisson came the following Saturday when, with a bad head, we went round to Rach’s brother , the Kent House Gardener’s  place. His 3 year old is known for, amongst other things, a varied appetite beyond his years. Indeed, his love of olives, king prawns and Parma ham have led some to label him ‘the world’s most middle-class 3 year old’ (there’s a Channel 5 documentary in there somewhere). Anyway, I thought he’d be good for a glowing review    this is how it went:

The Sausage Jockey: “Looks like you’re enjoying that! What does it taste like?”
Le petit gourmand: “Tastes liiiiiiiike...............salt.”
[Derisory laughs from Rach]
The Sausage Jockey: “Come on, what does it really taste like?”
Le petit gourmand: [Examining the painting equipment on the table in front of him] “Tastes liiiiiiiike...............paint.”
So not quite the knockout endorsement I was hoping to fill this blog entry with. However, he did go on to eat a good half a sausage over the course of the afternoon (I’m sure some toddlers’ RDA percentages were breached there.....questionable parenting – I hope Rosie’s not reading) which means that my saucisson – even if it does taste of ‘paint’ – passes the toddler test!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Saucisson feedback part 1: The dinner party

My saucisson actually took its first major outing last Friday night, fresh off the drying rack! Having tasted the sausage only hours before, some would say I put my small gathering of work friends at considerable botulism risk. Others would say I put them at risk of a flavour orgasm!! Luckily, neither actually happened....although there were a few contorted faces upon tasting – not a botulism symptom I’m aware of...
Anyway, here’s the verdict(s):
The Brixton banger backer
“[This has] opened my eyes to a whole new world of sausage – dream!”
The South-Indian savaloy salivator
"Having feasted on your greasy sausage I have no doubts that the bank manager will throw cash at your pig farm should you ever seek investment..."
The Cheshire charcuterie chewer

"After nibbling the end I couldn't help but gobble it down..."
The Milton Keynes meat man-handler 
“I love saucisson! Fatty, salty & delicious sausage. Absolute win.”

So there you have it: 4 tasted (7, actually) and zero dead or injured....in fact, an excellent night had by all - RESULT!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ohhh mamma!!
I’m not one to exaggerate (well, I am a bit), but remember Friday 4th May 2012, for it is the day that a new force arrived on the sausage scene!!
A new force in sausage...(not to be confused with a 'force-in sausage')
I came home from a week in Wales on Friday, half expecting to find ruined, rancid sausages after I’d left the poor things on my balcony at the mercy of the rubbish weather. But Mother Nature clearly loves a good sausage (wheheeey!): my little beauties had dropped the requisite 35% weight (a touch more, actually) and – what’s more – had developed some healthy white mould for that added authenticity. Without further ado, I tore into them and was immediately and magically transported to France...
She slices like a dream
This wasn’t like the Chorizos that have come before – worthy as home-made efforts, but workmanlike in their slightly crude, over-salty flavour – no, no....this was the real deal!! As authentic a saucisson sec as I have eaten in the UK....honestly! The first hit when you cut into them was of intense garlic, but this was more pronounced in the aroma than the flavour, which was of deep, lingering pork, complemented by healthy but not over-done seasoning and just a slight sour-ish acidic note....mmmmm.
Fatty and meaty - interestingly two of my school nicknames...
“Stop blowing your own sausage!!” I hear you cry!! I realise that you won’t take my word for it...not that you’d think me a liar, as such. More like a proud father doting on his ugly kids? Well I’m taking my saucisson on the road.....Impartial reviews to follow shortly....