Monday, February 9, 2009

Burning Questions: Meat

This whole series of "Burning Questions" posts originated as a somewhat amusing troll through the One Block West Restaurant web site server logs, to see what search phrases were bringing people to the web site. As I went through the logs, the search topics seemed to fall into several broad categories, each dealt with in a separate post in this series. This post deals with meats.

How to Cook Surry Sausage/What is Surry Sausage. First things first. Surry Sausage is a smoked pork sausage from Surry, Virginia-based S. Wallace Edwards & Sons. It's formed into small links and has a remarkable smoky flavor that some people mistake for country ham. Follow the link above for purchase and background information on this one of a kind sausage.

Cooking Surry Sausage is not much different from other smoked pork sausages. We dice it and add it to sautées; we grill it and slice it for appetizers and our popular Surry Sausage lunch salad. You should make sure that you cook the sausage to 165F/75C.

Non-Pork Substitute for Prosciutto. For those of you who cannot eat pork, I suggest that you use a similarly cured beef called Bresaola. A similar Swiss product is called Bünderfleisch. You may also see it labeled as beef prosciutto.

Andouille Sausage Substitute. Andouille as we think of it here in the US is a firm sausage stuffed with chunks of pork shoulder and seasoned with a good helping of cayenne pepper. You could substitute tasso or a firm city ham such as Hormel Cure 81 and some cayenne. Tasso or ham would have the closest texture to andouille. Or you could substitute another smoked pork sausage such as kielbasa and some cayenne. Kielbasa's texture will be wrong because it is made from a ground forcemeat. Me, I'd just go to Comeaux's web site and order the real andouille. I've been buying from Ray Comeaux since the early 1990's. The photo shows a link of Comeaux's andouille (top) and two links of Edwards' Surry Sausage (bottom).

Tasso vs Andouille. They're similar in flavor and yet they're dissimilar in appearance. Andouille is a sausage described just above. Tasso is made from pork shoulder too, only it is made from cross-grain chunks of shoulder that have been lightly cured, spiced, and smoked. Tasso will be a bit leaner than andouille, but they have the same basic flavor. For diced meat to add flavor to a jambalaya or gumbo, I use them interchangeably. If I want those nice andouille rounds, nothing else will do.

Spanish Word for Sausages. That would be chorizo, although specific sausages have their own names. There are basically two types of chorizo with which I am familiar: Spanish and Mexican. Spanish chorizo are small, firm (like pepperoni), cured sausages seasoned primarily with pimentón. Mexican chorizo, the kind I feasted on when I lived in Texas, tends to be a loose, fresh sausage seasoned with mild chile powder and a fair amount of vinegar. I have also seen it stuffed into casings.

What is Paleron? Funny you should ask, it's my favorite cut of beef and I wrote extensively on it in another post.

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