Sausage. Sausage. And sausage.
….I wonder what came into your head when you read the word sausage, the first one in the series above. Maybe a sandwich with a lovely grilled link inside a warm, soft bun? Or was it a scent: that caramelized pork fat and spices dripping and, with a sound – you know, that sound, a hissizzlemmsiz before its drop into the bread, meat still warm, nose filled and piqued with and by all that flavor on the way? Or was it the juice, a dribble around your lips as your teeth slice through the lightly impregnated bun, the slightest crunch-pop accompanying that first commited bite, the whooshing mix as the compenents break down and blend in your mouth, the fast relay of expectation vs what’s actually there right now-then: is this a good sausage by compare, mediocre, poor or wow-great? Everyone likes sausage, even those who don’t.
But it’s a very loose term, ‘sausage’. By definition: ‘an item of food in the form of a cylindrical length of minced pork or other meat encased in a skin, typically sold raw to be grilled or fried before eating.’ (oxford english) A food that’s been around forever, basically, with each place having its own general way of creating a meaning, guidelines of what goes into the making, which parts of the pig, how much salt, which spices at what ration, etc. By the time we got to industrailization, (basically in the US,) whole categories with a bizillion variations often were slid into pseudo-categories like ‘Italian’ sausage, or Polish, or Hungarian, etc. Kind of a shame, really. In some places, each farm created, had and did its own recipes based on whatever appropriate ingreadients were at hand. More, each butcher or farmer take their experience and alter – maybe mister Franchi uses some fennel seed to his pork, maybe Rossini adds a bit of grappa while miss Dimitri makes the best Lamb sausage this side of…
Luganica is a term applied to a range of sausages made in the center-north of Italy, more so the Lombardia region. (Yeah, in case it sounds to you much like the ancient southern Italian region Lucania, you’re correct. That seems to be where the sausage originated, as mentioned in ancient Roman texts.) Usually, it has a bit of beef broth, wine and Grana cheese (a sort of Parmiggiano) mixed in, giving it a sort of long-meat-creamy-sweet-salt finish. It’s the primary flavor in a noted risotto, the ‘risotto a la monzese’, and a noted pasta, ‘pasta’, er, ‘monzese’. Or you can flavor a red sauce with it and pour it over spaghetti; it goes well of course in the oven with potatoes; mix it with a green like zucchini; and so on. Or, if you want a deep, rich flavor on a cool eve but dont feel much like cooking, you can shove this oh-so-easy-to-make classic on a back burner:
Stewed Luganiga (sausage) with White Cabbage and Polenta
- 800 grams Sausage (Luganica, if your butcher has it)
- 1 large white cabbage
- 5 cups light vegetable broth
- 1 glass dry white wine
- 1 tbsp white wine venegar
- salt and pepper
- 70 grams lard
- ….make a light veggi broth if you don't have one ready in the freezer or fridge. IF you haven't the time, don't use industrial or any cube: plane water will also work fine.
- Slice the lard into small cubes and place in a large pot, metal, over low heat.
- Slice up the cabbage in realtively fine strips after removing the large center stalk. No guideline here: it depends on personal taste, larger or smaller strips.
- When the lard has become tranluscent, raise the heat a good bit to medium-high, in goes the cabbage, stir, in goes the wine.
- Once you can't smell the wine over top any more, in goes the warm broth or water, salt and pepper according to taste and consideration of how salty-spicy the sausage you'll lay in later is.
- Lower the heat to lowest, the lightest of boils, cover and let cook for an hour.
- Now lay in the sausage kunks, stir, re-cover and let cook for another hour.
- That's it. Great with polenta or crusty bread or tater's….