17th Century Sausage

As the extraordinary warm spring weather turned to typical spring, with  rainy cool days to follow, I thought of sausages.

Many years ago when I was living in Connecticut, the “Culinary Historians of Connecticut” got together to make sausages. I made “Fine Sausage” from Directions for Cookery; Albin Weber made “Hungarian ‘Yard’ Sausage;” Sandy Oliver made  ”Creole Chaurice Sausages.” Warner Lord made” To Make a Common Sausage,” from The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy; Margot made “Oxford Sausage” and another Sandy made a family receipt that came from Portugal by the Roman Legions and on to Brazil and the British colonies in 1756.    

I looked through all my cookery books, and found that most sausage with casings use the same meat, pork or pork and beef combinations. They also call for similar seasonings or state that you can use this or that. I decided to make the 17th Century Portuguese Pork Sausage. I read through the receipt one more time, and as many early cooks did, I altered it a bit to suit my taste. I bought a pork butt just a little over four pounds; it had a lot of sinew and very little fat so I picked up some salt pork fat. Who doesn’t love pork fat in things? I also picked up a few fresh lemons. 

The pork butt needed to be trimmed of the sinew, and both my husband and I worked cutting it all out. We chopped the pork and the salt pork fat into little pieces. 

From my freezer, in the basement, I took a bag of hog casings and pulled out three. More than I’ll need however, should I tear one I’ll have a spare. This freezer has many weird things in it, and anyone looking for something should beware of what they might defrost.

As you can see on the plate, my four-pound pork butt ended up being about 2 ¾ pounds, a lot of waste. Now it was time to make sure I had all my spices and herbs ready. The sage and thyme I needed was growing in my herb garden, so when the rain let up, I quickly picked it and washed it off. I used the mortar and pestle to crush peppercorns and fennel seed to a powder, chopped my sage, thyme and garlic and graded the lemon peels. I had cayenne pepper, salt and cardamom seed that I would also add.

 The pork and fat was chopped and mixed in the bowl then I added the spices and herbs. We used a ratio of two to one pork to fat. This I mixed first with a wooden spoon then my hand, to make sure that everything was distributed evenly.

Each of the casings needed to be rinsed out several times. The best way to put the casing onto the sausage press is to fill them with water and push them on until you get to the end, while letting the water drain out. Works best over the sink.

With everything mixed, and the casings on the press, it was time to make sausages.

Allan pushed the meat into the casings, and it started coming out. I helped by gently pulling on the sausage until the casing was full. We used one entire casing and just a small amount of one other. We ended up with a nice plate full, and I would guess that the sausage will feed about four or five people. 

I saved out the small single sausage and took the larger piece and froze it for when we have guests. With a nice fire made in the fireplace, I cooked the small sausage to have with a glass of fine wine before the fire, just to take the dampness out of us while we waited for the chicken and potato dish to warm. The sausage was wonderful, with just a hint of the lemon peel. I don’t think anyone could buy better sausage; it is well worth making your own.

For our dinner, we reheating leftover baked chicken and potatoes in the bake kettle and cooked our stand-by green beans with some carrots. We turned the bake kettle several times to warm the chicken, and when it was ready we plated it.

I hope you will try and make sausages; it is easy, and you can use your own seasoning, so it will be just as you like it.


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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

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