The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ancient Cookery

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Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné
Jeff Berry
(Number 25 in the Series, June 2004)

Polonian Sawsedge

Another Whyt Whey event is on the horizon, and this one is looking for finger foods and the like. In addition to the Jumbles (see HGtAC #24), I decided to try some sausage recipes - in part because the grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for my KitchenAid arrived. (It'll also give me chance to test drive some stuff before Pennsic.)

I began with my old friend Sir Hugh Plat, in whose work I remembered seeing a recipe. There it was:

12. To make a Polonian sawsedge.
"Take the fillers of a hog: chope them very small with a handfull of red Sage: season it hot with ginger and pepper, and then put it into a great sheep's gut: then let it lie three nights in brine: then boile it, and hang it up in a chimney where fire usually kept: and these sawsedges will last a whole yeere. They are good for sallades, or to garnish boiled meats, or to make on rellish a cup of wine."

That seems pretty straightforward. Take the fillers of a hog, which I take to mean interior bits - organ meats, trimmings, etc. - add some spices and then soak it in brine. With this mind, I went to the store to see what I could find to use as "fillers." Imagine my surprise when there on the shelves at Fairway was something labeled "pork bits," and at sixty-nine cents per pound, no less! Who knew? That's what I decided to use, even though it probably wasn't quite offal-ish enough to be accurate. The pork bits really just looked like ends and trimmings. Not too much fat, though, and no skin.

I took about a pound and a half of those bits and perhaps six or eight leaves of fresh sage and ran them through the grinder on the coarse setting. Then I mixed in a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger and maybe half that in fresh ground black pepper. Then I ran the whole mess through the grinder again, pausing at one point to clean off some connective tissue that was binding the shaft.

Then it was the sausage stuffer's turn! Last year I made five pounds or so of sausage by hand with a funnel for Pennsic and it was a drag. I love my new stuffer. I ran the mix into hog gut casings, since I had those and didn't have sheep, and ended up with about 18" of sausage.

I made a very strong brine of 1 cup of salt and about 3 cups of water and soaked the sausage for two days, flipping it over after one. I jabbed a few holes in the casing with a skewer as well.

Then, to cook it, I tried my plan for the event. To wit, I put it in my rice/vegetable steamer for fifteen minutes or so. (We don't have much in the way of kitchen for the event this weekend, and the steamer is easy to transport and use.)

The results were pretty good. The sausage cooked just fine. It was a bit too salty and not quite hot enough. I had made the brine strong since I knew I was going to have to short it by a day to get my test run in, but apparently I overdid it. It occurred to me later that a big sheep's gut would probably be larger than the corresponding hog gut and might also need longer in the brine. In any case, I'll make a more standard brine for the next run.

I do not have any way to smoke the sausage which is why I didn't. My wife suggested getting some liquid smoke just for flavor, and I may do that for some of the sausage this weekend, even though it's cheating. Someday, I'll have a place to smoke meats. Someday.

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Comments are welcome.
Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné, Jeff Berry,

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed 16 June 2004
Last modified 16 June 2004