June 15, 2011

It’s nearly the fourth of July, or Bastille Day if you’re in France – high summer just about everywhere in this hemisphere. For heavens sake – you don’t need a holiday to celebrate. Get out the grill. Make some sausages. Invite your friends over.

It’s been months of challenges now. Months of pictures of raw meat. I am hereby declaring there will be fewer raw meat photos in this post. This is about what to do with those sausages. Have a party! Look – I even took pictures of the people and the dogs!

For this month’s challenge, Paul and Elaine hosted a summer barbeque in their sunny Glover Park backyard. A few friends joined in for the Olympics of Sausage. Everyone agreed to be our judges (we’re keeping their identities secret,) and promised to give us an honest opinion of the sausages. We immediately bribed the judges with cocktails. We know how this works.

You’ve mastered sausage-making now, so let’s ramp it up a little and make some of the classics. Emulsification is what turns a fresh sausage into a hot dog. Or bratwurst. Or any number of smooth textured sausages. And that’s what we’re going to learn this month. It’s a little tricky – if the meat gets too warm, or your emulsification breaks, the texture will be horrid. Mealy. It will be irretrievable. But we have faith – you can do it. You’ve come this far and you are ready.

For the Apprentice Challenge, please make Bratwurst or Weisswurst.
For the Charcutiere Challenge, please make Hot Dogs or Mortadella.

Post on the 15th. Tag your post charcutepalooza and we’ll be sure to see it. Share your blog post with Punk Domestics. Cross post and upload photos on Charcutepalooza’s Facebook page. And don’t forget to share all those great original recipes on food52.

More questions? Want to share your sausaging experiences? Have questions about wursts? emulsifying? beef bung? Thursday, June 16th starting at 9PM EDT, there will be a Twitter Chat with Michael Ruhlman and Bob delGrosso. We look forward to seeing you there – just check in at the #charcutepalooza hashtag.

Remember everything you’ve learned about grinding and stuffing….

The Best and the Wurst

requisite raw meat photo

Emulsifying brings together the fat and meat in your sausage and blends them, resulting in a paste that plumps to a smooth, velvety texture revealed under the snap of the casing. Using ice cold liquid or crushed ice to blend the ground meat and fat helps to bring it all together.

For emulsified sausages, you will be using the small die on the grinder. The grind is very fine – I actually prefer to grind everything twice – and after grinding, blend in the food processor or the stand mixer, adding very, very cold liquid to create the paste.

Stuffing the paste into casings is challenging. You’ll want to freeze the mixture and all your grinder parts before attempting to form the sausages. You may need to chill the meat several times as you are making the links. Do your best to remove all the air pockets from the sausages. Use a sausage prick or a sterilized needle and make a few small holes in the sausage before cooking.

The bratwurst is probably the easiest of the emulsified sausages. Adding cold eggs and cream makes the meat and fat come together very quickly. It’s made from either pork, veal or beef, or a combination. We used a combination of pork picnic (shoulder) from Smith Meadows and veal shoulder – rose veal – from Painted Hand Farm (a Charcutepalooza member and farmers market vendor at Bethesda Central Farm Market.) Rose veal is not milk fed, but pastured. The meat is much redder when raw, but cooks up as white as milk-fed veal. I love the flavor.

Bratwurst is traditionally poached in beer before being grilled. We ate the brats with spicy mustard and beer-braised, bacon studded sauerkraut. Unfortunately, we over poached the brats, sigh, thus the low scores. One judge liked the flavor enough to give ‘em an eight.

Weisswurst is always made from veal. Again, using rose veal shoulder and some lovely back fat (from D’Artagnan), the sausage is not poached or cooked before being grilled. The meat is very tender and cooks quickly, so watch them like a hawk. Do not overcook. Hands down my favorite of the ‘wursts, it pairs beautifully with sweet mustard.

Hot Diggity Dog

Oh, the hot dog, the frankfurter, dare I say it – the weiner. So maligned. So misunderstood.

A good hot dog, or half-smoke, which is what DC’ers would call the Charcuterie recipe, is divine. The snap of the casings, the juiciness, the smoky flavor, the spice, the excuse to pile on the mustard and relish and, yes, even kimchi. All of it. Hot dogs are uniquely American, and the dogs we made this weekend were great.

Joan liked the kimchi. Maybe a little too much.

But here’s where we run into some issues. You see, it seems I have the First Edition of Charcuterie, and some of you may have later editions, with a different recipe. I saw this (note: this post did not meet the requirements of the June challenge, but was way ahead, it seems, for the July challenge) and realized the recipe was different than mine. Michael Ruhlman confirmed my suspicion.

We were happy with the recipe – how could a sausage made with short ribs be bad? Check out the voting!  We want to know about the recipe you use and how you like it.

Clarified... three 9's, one 9.5, and one 6 (not an upside down 9)

The challenge here? You’re going to grind, emulsify and encase. Then you’re going to smoke. Then you’re going to chill ‘em quickly in an ice bath. That’s how you make a hot dog. The emulsification occurs in the food processor. You must keep the meat very very cold.  Add crushed ice to emulsify and work quickly. The outside of the processor should feel icy to the touch. If at any time, you suspect the meat is warming up, put it back in the freezer. Freeze it nearly solid before attempting to encase the meat.

You’ll smoke the dogs to an internal temperature of 152-155° – and measure that temperature by pushing the thermometer down the length of the sausage, into the center/interior. The recipe called for a smoke stick, but I not only didn’t have one, I had no idea what it was. I set the hot dogs on the rack of my Bradley smoker and it worked great, although there were some rack marks on the sausages. I now understand the value of a smoke stick.

And – I’m not kidding – out of the smoker into an ice bath. Immediately. Or the casings will start to shrink away from the sausage and you’ll have a wrinkly dog. (sharpei?)

My Bologna has a First Name, it’s M-O-R-T-A….

Paul and Elaine love mortadella. I’ve liked it, but never felt really passionate about it. After this weekend, I’m a changed woman. I never want to be without mortadella again. Ever.

Mortadella put me in touch with things I didn’t even know existed. Beef Bung. Yes, indeed. Imagine my vegetarian husband’s delight.


It took some time with Google and exploring other blogs to figure out what part of the cow this was. After all, it was a casing with an opening on only one end? I’ll leave it up to you to do the research.

Once I got over my horror, and the bung was soaked overnight, I turned it inside out and scraped away the extra bits and pieces, then turned it right side out and started stuffing the emulsification in. Once I had all the paste stuffed in, I spent several minutes mushing it around, getting the air out, and packing the paste firmly into the bung. (A sentence I never in my life thought I would write.) It was sort of impressive.

The paste, pork shoulder from Smith Market Farm, and lovely back fat from D’Artagnan, is made in much the same way as the hot dog, with multiple rounds through the small die, keeping meat and fat separate, then emusifying only the meat, adding in the fat, then some ice, all the while keeping the mixture icy cold.

At last, the pistachios and blanched, cubed fat is folded in to the mixture. (I wish I had thought to add a teaspoon or two of cracked peppercorns.) You could also add olives, almonds instead of pistachios, or leave it plain, with just the blanched fat studding the mixture. This is Your Bologna.

Once I had the bung stuffed and tied, I poached the mortadella over a very very low flame (this is sous vide, without the machine) using a flame tamer. I used two thermometers – one for the water temperature and one for the temperature of the mortadella. Plunge the thermometer into the center of the meat, going in through or near the tied end. It took 2-1/2 hours for my mortadella to hit 150° and twice I had to add ice to the pot to lower the water temperature from 180° to 170°.

Use a plate or other weight to keep the mortadella submerged. I used a small skillet.

Once the mortadella has hit temperature, take it out of the poaching liquid and PLUNGE it into an ice bath, where it could take up to two hours to thoroughly chill through. Some recipes call for the mortadella to rest for two days before serving. I think this makes the flavors really combine well.

Again, keep the mortadella submerged with a weight - a plate, a skillet - whatever it takes.

The results were spectacular. We were happy to snack on the mortadella while the weisswurst, bratwurst and hot dogs were grilling. It’s really quite perfect either sliced or cubed. Don’t confuse mortadella with bologna – it’s much more subtle, the spicing, the texture – really lovely. The Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore has a fantastic brunch and serves a fried egg and fried house-made “bologna” i.e., mortadella, sandwich on a brioche roll.  I thought about making that.

But instead, I put together a salad, reminiscent of one I enjoyed in Italy many years ago.


Mortadella, Fennel and Artichoke Salad
Serves 2

4 baby artichokes, cleaned (watch Melissa Clark’s video on artichokes for the 411)
1/2 c white wine
3 rosemary sprigs
1 small fennel bulb, halved
1 small head of radicchio, quartered
1 one-inch chunk of mortadella, cut into cubes
1 smashed garlic clove marinating in 3 Tbls. olive oil for 20 minutes or so
More excellent olive oil
1 lemon, halved
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
Salt and pepper

Start the grill or heat a grill pan to medium high.
Get a medium saucepan,  fill it with water, add the wine and rosemary and put it over high heat until boiling.
Clean and quarter the artichokes, rubbing with lemon juice after you cut to keep them from turning brown, then boil until tender – about 20 minutes.
Rub garlic and olive oil on the cut halves of the fennel bulb and set them on the grill. Grill for about 18 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.
Rub garlic and olive oil on the cut quarters of radicchio and set those on the grill. Grill for about 12 minutes, turning halfway through.
In a medium skillet, heat about 1 Tbls. olive oil.
Quickly brown and crisp the mortadella cubes.
In a large bowl, combine the mortadella, fennel, artichokes and radicchio. Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze the lemon juice over the top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Scatter the marjoram leaves around. Gently toss to coat everything with the dressing. Taste to make sure it’s got enough of everything.
Decorate two beautiful plates with all this goodness.
Serve with a crisp Prosecco, if you can take the rest of the afternoon to nap in the sun.


Whisked DC

Finally, after all the sausages, it was time for dessert. Hooray for WHISKED, the baking brainchild of Jenna and Stephanie, two DC bloggers. Whisked is a dessert MECCA. I ordered ahead from their website and picked up Saturday morning at the U St. Farmer’s Market. There were hand pies (strawberry rhubarb and blueberry quince) which were outrageously good – a spectacular pie crust, buttery, flaky; a classic brownie, not too sweet, not cloying, but perfectly chocolate; and, the walnut shortbread turtle bar with caramel and chocolate that I hated to share. Look at how the group voted! Live in DC? Get out there and give these bakers your support. You’ll be so happy you did.

Charcutepalooza loves our sponsors. D’Artagnan , generously offering 25% off the meat-of-the-month. If you aren’t receiving your email with the secret code for Charcutepalooza members, register here. And the trip to France – an awesome grand prize deliciously designed by Trufflepig and Kate Hill at Camont. Love to Kinetic Web Solutions and @VinoLuci who helps us navigate technology. And our most recent sponsor, Armagnac CASTAREDE, providing celebratory Armagnac to our Grand Prize winner’s party in Paris.

34 Responses to “charcutepalooza july challenge. blending.”

  1. Winnie

    Holy crap Cathy. The challenge posts get better each month. Bring on the hot diggidy dogs. And the bung. Um….

  2. Cecilia

    Cathy, your posts are always so funny and entertaining! I’m so excited about this challenge. I love mortadella, this is the challenge I had been waiting for! Were you able to get the bung locally?

    • Cathy

      Hi Cecilia – I ordered the BUNG from SausageMaker.com. I didn’t really look locally, so please let me know what you find out. I must make more mortadella soon.

  3. Janis

    I bow to you oh “Meaty Highness”. Amazing post and I can only hope that I can do it justice. This one even has ME a bit freaked out.

  4. trinichad

    Did knackwurst for stuffing last month. Just got our sous vide over the weekend and was hoping mortadella may be in the works – perfect timing!!

  5. Eda

    Boy, this all looks good! It’s amazing how you get us acclimated to each step–grinding, stuffing and now this! i must admit, the bung has me a little intimidated! I can’t wait to see what comes outta this one!

  6. Mr Belm

    Looks like I predicted the future challenge, so it will have to be mortadella this time.

    What’s different in my hot dog recipe that has been changed in later editions of Charcuterie?

    • Cathy

      I haven’t seen M. Ruhlman’s revised recipe, but the one from the first edition had only short ribs (no added fat) while yours had lean beef and beef suet.

  7. Devin

    Aloha from Hawaii, I have been reading the post for a couple of months now, it is so great to see every one so in to this. Charcuterie is such an amazing art form. I do two farmers markets a week here on the Big Island, and I sell sausages, salami, ham, bacon, and more. All made with locally raised beef and pork. I have been making 15# of hot dogs a week, and another 15# of brawts. Thank you for helping keep this art form alive

  8. Lynn

    Wow! I’m glad I stuck it out with stuffing. I can’t wait to try hot dogs and smoke again. The Mortadella totally scares me, which means I’m going to do that too. For me Charcutepalooza is all about expanding my horizons.
    Thanks, Cathy!

  9. Gabby

    Hey Cathy! Great post, awesome pics. I see that Joan found Kimchi love. Very spicy and saucy! Love the humor as much as the recipes!

  10. BrianS

    You amaze us again. How do you find time to do all of this? One thing I’m struck by is no matter what a sausage is made of, when you grill it, it looks tasty as hell. This brings up that eternal question, “To bung or not to bung?” Hmm, so many options.


  11. ken albala

    Your mortadella, Madame, is magnificent. Really a splendid job. I have not been able to do it to the proper consistency with no machines. (apart from a big stone mortar) but I know it has been done. Maybe it just takes a few hours pounding. The bung is incredible, isn’t it? Loved this post. Ken

    • Cathy

      Thank you Ken! It tastes pretty fabulous, too. I just used the last of it yesterday and I’m already sad.

  12. Julia

    I’ll have to agree with Ken, that Mortadella knocked my socks off. It is really spectacular. I don’t think I have the tenacity to make it this go ’round, but one day…

    • Cathy

      With modern equipment, and once you get past the gross factor, it’s surprisingly easy to make. And really so delicious.

  13. trinichad

    did mortadella and jager (got all crazy and substituted – can’t wait for the July run – announcement tomorrow right?



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