17 March 2013

Cooking Boudin Blanc

Boudin blanc means “white pudding” in French.  To the French, it is the most esteemed of all sausages. They are made with pork, chicken, onions, breadcrumbs, cream, and spices. They’re already fully cooked but need to be  gently browned and heated through. Kept in a cold refrigerator (below 40ºF) they will last 8-10 days, and frozen, up to three months.    

Cook boudin blanc in a mixture of half light oil and half butter, or in all clarified butter, if you have it. Use a cast iron pan or heavy fry skillet. Heat the pan well, then turn the heat down low. Add a thin coating of the fat to the pan.  Cook the sausages for 7 minutes each side, turning once, 15 minutes total. Do not brown them too darkly, as this will make the sausage skin bitter, and you will risk bursting the sausage. Do not cover them, which will definitely cause them to burst.

Serve boudin blanc with good Dijon and little parslied potatoes. Or with and sauerkraut.  I like a cru Beaujolais – a Morgon or Brouilly -- a Bourgogne Rouge of character, or a delicious Chinon. Then there’s always Minervois and Anjou…

Cooking Crépinettes

Crépinettes take their name from the light, membranous fat that they’re wrapped in, called crépine in French. The classic version, from Bordeaux, is a simple breakfast sausage with very restrained but precise seasoning of salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. There are variations: caillettes, a Burgundian version, include organ meats; with chard, from Normandy; and a Languedocienne sophistication, with black truffles.  

Along the French coast, crépinettes are often eaten alongside local, flat-shelled oysters with sauce mignonette, the sharp-edged, perfectly delicious combination of shallot, crushed black peppercorns, and white wine. Purists argue that it’s a Parisian affectation, and many aficionados eat their oysters “au nature,” with no condiments at all. But, as the French say, “à chacun, son goût.”  Kept the in your refrigerator, crépinettes will last 5-6 days, no longer.  They will freeze well up to three months. 

Cook crépinettes in a half-half mixture light-bodied oil and half butter, or in just clarified butter, if you have it. Use a heavy fry pan or, preferably, a cast iron skillet.  Warm the pan to a gentle sizzle, and then turn the heat down low. Add a thin coating of fat and cook the sausages for seven minutes on each side, turning once, until firm all the way through, about 15 minutes. They are wonderful on the grill, too, cooked for the same amount of time.

Serve crépinettes with buttered baguette and roquette (arugula) salad, or if you’re living large, with your favorite oysters.  Some sacrilegiously serve Dijon mustard along side; it’s good but not correct. I like to drink a lovely Savennières from Château d’Epiré with crépinettes – it’s a stunning combination! Failing that, try a good Pic St. Loup blanc or fill-bodied Entre-Deux-Mers.  And there’s always Chinon. 

Cooking Spicy Calabrian Fennel Sausages

Italian fennel sausages typically come in either sweet or spicy hot.  These traditional all-pork Italian sausages are made with fennel seed, Calabrian chili, paprika, and garlic, and are on the hot side, though not blisteringly hot.  These Calabrian chilis are pickled and preserved in olive oil.  Their brilliant red color tints the sausage brightly.   

Cook the sausages over medium heat in a cast iron skillet or on the grill, about 7 minutes on each side, until browned nicely and cooked through, about 14-15 minutes altogether. They are delicious with arugula and pickled onions; uncased, they’re perfect in pasta with rapini and white beans (squeeze them out of the casing, crumble and fry the sausage meat before adding to the pasta); or, my favorite way, on toasted ciabatta with vinegary grilled green peppers and onions.  Kept in your refrigerator, they will last perfectly for 5 or 6 days, and can be frozen for up to three months.