Monday, August 5, 2013

Luganega Italian Sausage


When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home. – Thornton Wilder 

These 4 sausage could easily be cut in half for 8.

I’m always on the lookout for unusual sausage recipes. Sausage is so easy to do, taking only a few ingredients, and so wonderfully different from each other. It’s all in the spices.

It always amazes me how you can start with usually the same meat – pork roast and fat – and spice it into so many, many completely different tastes. I say usually because sometimes they are beef, or lamb, or some combination.

I have made sweet Italian, hot Italian, sweet and hot Italian, sun dried tomato, my own “Canadian” sausage, merguez, South African boerewors, smokey bacon, donair, fresh chorizo, apple sage, Chinese, hot dogs... and I’m probably forgetting a few.

"Low and slow." That's the way to cook fresh sausage. It minimizes
the chance of the skins rupturing.
They’re all here on this blog. Search “sausage.” It’s fun to make things you have no chance in heck of finding at the local butchers or grocery. It also opens up your eyes to whole new culinary adventures.

I was fishing around somewhere a few days ago and stumbled across one called luganega (or luganeca, it has a few spellings). It’s origin, although Italian is a subject of debate. Some say it’s a signature northern sausage; others say it is southern, deriving its name from the ancient town Lucania. Roman soldiers were supposed to have taken them along as they marched north.

There seems to be as many recipes as there are households to make them. So for mine I took what I thought were the best (and overlapping) ingredients and made my own. My kitchen may not be in Italy, but it doesn't mean I can't make a passable variation!

These sausages are a bit of an interesting thing. First, they have no fennel which is the signature flavour in what we think of as Italian sausage. Instead they use rosemary. They also have a decent amount of parmesan cheese, so they’re on the lighter coloured side, raw as well as cooked.

The flavour is quite delightfully unexpected. My better half said that they tasted more of something Middle Eastern. I kind of know what he meant. Even if they aren't what we think of as Italian sausage they are really good.

When cooking any sausage watch for flare-ups of fat from the fire. They will leak and might cause burning. Keep in mind that recent studies have shown that you only have to cook pork to an internal temperature of 160°F, not the 170°F that is on most thermometers.

That's an important piece of information. Just cook to proper internal temperature. Any more will risk drying out the sausage. Dry sausage is yucky. It's true of roast, chops, or whatever.

I have read this particular sausage is traditionally cooked in a coil. So feel free to do so if you want. Hold it in place with a few long skewers. I twisted mine into four pieces because they were easier to deal with on the barbecue. Laziness wins every time!

My recipes commonly make just enough for one family barbecue, so if you don’t particularly like a recipe you’re not really out a lot. I think you’ll like them. We certainly did.

If you’re sick to death of hot dogs, bratwursts or hot Italians on the barbecue, try this sausage. It’s a real keeper.


Barbecue in a coil – the classic method – or twist into links.
Luganega Italian Sausage Coil
Prep: 30 min  |  Yield: enough for 4-6 people
2 lbs pork shoulder, cubed
1/2 lb pork back fat, tough skin removed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pork sausage casings

Using a grinder, or food processor, grind the pork, back fat and garlic together. If using a grinder, use the larger plate; if using a food processor, make it the consistency of hamburger.

Then add the remaining ingredients and knead together well.

Stuff the sausage into a long casing and coil on a plate. Or use loose to make sausage patties for interesting burgers. Refrigerate for a few hours if desired.

Cook the sausage on a barbecue set on medium low for about 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the centre reads 160°F.

Serve cut into chunks with a fresh salad, or on a bun.

Uncooked loose meat patties, or stuffed sausages, can be frozen for a few months.

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