I did some major good geekery yesterday with my friends Erzabeta and Vittoria. Vittoria is translating a more obscure Italian cookbook (well more obscure than Scappi) and they had a few sausage recipes, and since I am making some sausages for a Medieval event I am attending in May called Erinwood, and Vittoria wanted to serve some dishes from her translations at Beltane, I figured it might be fun to play with meat!
I did 3 different types of sausages:
"Yellow Sausage" which I interpreted as an emulsified sausage (this is going to be long and boring, but it's interesting to me!) and here is why. Here is the translated recipe:
[96r] Yellow Sausage.
Take twenty-five pounds of fat pork meat, and the thigh meat is best; pound it very well with your pestle, then take two pounds of grated piasentino cheese [this is an aged cheese from the town of Piacenza, which is how it gets its name, and apparently it’s like a modern grana padano: http://www.granapadano.com/ing/history/i
Here is how the casings were prepared for the Yellow Mortadella:
Then take the intestines well cleaned in several washes, and salt them sufficiently, then take an eighth of an ounce of ground saffron diluted with a bit of white wine, enough that it is incorporated together, and throw them into the intestines, mixing them together in a pot such that they turn yellow, then make your mortadellas or sausages.
Here is why I interpreted it as an emulsified sausage... there are several different descriptions for how they process meat for sausage making and they include: "pound the meat with the back of your knife", "pound the meat well with your knife" and "take two knives and pound the meat well" and "pound very well in a mortar and pestle"... Since it is pound "very well" in a mortar and pestle, I am guessing they are making a type of paste from the meat, which is how emulsified sausages are made as well (think like the inside of a hotdog... as hot dog is a smoked emulsified sausage... bologne is a abomination of modern Mortadella, also emulisfied, with pork back fat added, but not smoked).
Additionally, the emulsification process dose the lighten the meat (making it likely hold the yellow color from the saffron better) because the lighter colored fat is evenly spread out in the meat. Another thing that happens with emulsified sausages is the addition of a milk product, in this case the hard cheese.
So I had obtained pork middles to make a larger Mortadella size sausage and I also had saffron soaking in wine to soak the middles. The middles smelled so bad that after washing them out several times, I took out my regular/smaller hog casings and added them to the wine mixture as well!
The rest... I toasted my spices and then processed the meat with cold water in my food processor, stuffed the middles and other casings and then simmered them until they were done. They were really really good!
The other ones I made were an amalgamation of these two:
Take two parts pork by weight and one part beef, and pound all these things together well, and for every pound of meat put in half an ounce of salt, and six grains of pepper cracked, and a bit of fennel according to your judgment, and spugneza everything together well, then stuff these things, and make sure they are well fitted into washed beef intestines, and cure them [103v], as the others aforementioned.
[103v] Zambudelli [I think this is kind of similar to French andouillette sausage]
Take the small intestines of pork or veal, and make sure they are well salted. Afterward open them lengthwise, and wash them well in several changes of water, and make sure the water is hot. Then have good vinegar, and throw it in the pot where you will place said intestines, and after they are well washed, you will throw fennel into them, and salt, and let them stand for a night and a day in said seasonings, and a bit of something sweet would not be unwelcome, then stuff them according to the usual way, and put them in smoke to dry.
And this was more of a rougher textured smoked sausage in my reading of it, so I put everything thru the largest die on my grinder and stuffed them in the smaller casings and smoked them on Cherry and Apple wood until they were done.
The dried sausages... I still have not seen a recipe for a dry cured sausage. We know they had them, and there are a few recipes for dry cured meats (like prosciutto) and there is a ton of modern lore about them that has been passed down in the sausage making community (please don't hesitate to point me in the direction of some dry cured sausage recipes!) so this is my educated guess on dry cured sausages in the middle ages...
The lore and the materials...
Pink (or curing salt)... this salt is dyed a pink color so that people don't accidentally ingest a ton of nitrates/nitrites but lore has it that (like some French Sea salt, which is also pink) curing salts were found in specific areas and were naturally higher in these substances, which is why we modernly still use the pink to denote curing salts. It is really salt-peter... yes that you can make explosives out of. I used to be able to get it at local pharmacies, but now you have to order it online pretty much (Lunardi's has #1 pink salt, but not #2).
Creating a bacteria free environment... bacteria loves moisture and a higher (well in the middle really) ph level. So what you want to do is create a low (around 4) ph environment that will last until the meat is dry inside the casing. How this is achieved modernly is by adding a bacterial fermented milk product called L. acidophilus, sugar, and #2 curing salt. This product was found naturally in milk/cheese products in period but we pasteurize milk now and this kills off the live cultures.
These cultures feed on sugar, either natural milk sugars or added sugar, this creates lactic acid. The lactic acid along with the salt, create an environment where bacteria cannot grow and spoil your salami.
In period, I would guess they added sugar and raw milk product to meat, plus special curing salts (there are salts mentioned by region in Vittoria's translation of the one semi-dried and smoked sausage listed, inferring that special salt was used, either fora specific flavor or because it had some special function. I am guessing it was a salt that lent itself better to curing) to achieve the desired effect.
By lore some sausages have been made since Medieval times including Tuscan Salami (the spices used are so common in Medieval Italian food, it would be hard to imagine this is not the case, especially since many Italian butchers have had buchery in the family for many many generations, one famous one has been in the family for 500 years and calls their salami the same one made in the court of Catherine Medici, which may be hubris... but it also may not), Landjeager (a completely dried salami that went on campaign with German soldiers) and Saucisson sec (a very simple dry salami with garlic and pepper).
I choose to use my favorite Italian dry sausage recipe because 1. all of the spices used are mentioned repeatedly in Vittoria's translations (Fennel, nutmeg, cinnamon, cracked pepper and cloves) and 2. The processes are all the same except the additional drying the sausage (which is mentioned "in smoke" in one recipe, but I am guessing this was a slowly dried sausage over a low heat/smoke over the course of two or three days, not a month... once again if anyone has a book or info on dry curing in period, I would be very happy to check it out).
Since I am not using raw milk, I purchased the milk culture to add to my sausage. I also an using dextrose, which is a very fine sugar that is easily incorporated into the meat. The salt is fine sea salt and the fat and the meat or ground on a large die separately, with Erzabeta finely chopping some larger bits of fat to incorporate. We did pack one 12 inch length of bung, but it will hung separately from the smaller (better smelling) casings (that the rest of the meat was hung it). I put them in slated water overnight to kill off bacteria and will hang them today to dry in my little make shift area for that.
Anyway, WHEW! The two we did already came out really well and I think Rowan is going to get a kick out of the saffron sausages for Erinwood, and they really are delicious. Very light with a complex sweet savory flavor. The color is a bit grey-yellow with is kind of off putting, but it looks actually pretty good when you put the sausages side by side... they are just totally different from both a flavor and texture perspective.