Picture of a Sausage
It is for these reasons that there really is no such thing as "Italian sausage" or "Polish sausage" or any of the other dozens of ethnic varieties sold in most supermarkets. Certain kinds of sausages owe allegiance to various countries or regions but "Italian sausage" may be Italian to one person but pure bologna to another.
By definition, sausage is a mixture of ground meat laced with herbs and spices. That doesn't begin to describe the virtually limitless varieties of sausage.
All sausages fall into one of two groups: fresh sausages and cured sausages. Fresh sausages must be cooked before being eaten. They must be treated like other fresh meat — kept cold when stored. Cured sausages are preserved with certain ingredients such as salt and/or they have been dried to prevent spoilage.
Cured sausages can be eaten as is or with only enough cooking to heat them through.
KINDS OF SAUSAGES
Take a look at the various kinds of sausages below. First the fresh ones ...
- Bockwurst is a German-style kind of sausage made from veal or veal and pork. It is usually flavored with onions, parsley, and cloves.
- Bratwurst is another German-style kind of sausage made from pork and veal. It looks like a fat hot dog and is delicately flavored with all spice, caraway and marjoram.
- Country sausage is one of the most common kinds of sausage found in this country. It can be made into patties or small links and is spiced predominantly with sage.
- Frankfurter, or your plain old-fashioned hot dog, is the most widely consumed kind of sausage in the world, thanks primarily to the industriousness of American meat packers. Americans consumed 17 billion hot dogs in 1979. Though the commercial variety frank sometimes deserves its lowly reputation, consisting as it does of mostly water and fat, the homemade variety belongs on the same pedestal as all the other homemade sausages because it is just as wholesome and delicious.
- Liverwurst is, next to the hot dog, the most famous of the German-style kind of sausages.
- Vienna sausage consists primarily of pork and beef, but veal can be added to give it a milder flavor. Onions, mace, and coriander are the predominant flavors.
- Cotechino is an Italian-style kind of sausage that is best made from fresh, uncured ham. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves combine with Parmesan cheese to give it its unique flavor.
- Luganega is a very mild Italian-style kind of sausage. It is unique in that it is flavored with freshly grated orange and lemon zest.
- Northern Italian-style hot or sweet sausage is what you usually see in the meat case labeled simply "Italian sausage." It is traditionally a pure pork sausage in which coriander is the principal herb used as flavoring.
- Sicilian-style sausage is basically the same as Northern Italian kind of sausage except that fennel takes the place of coriander.
- Chorizo can be either fresh or cured. The fresh kind is similar to Sicilian sausage except that it is much spicier. It is not for people with timid palates.
- Garlic sausage can also be fresh or cured. The fresh variety is a pork sausage with lots of garlic and a little white wine for flavor. It is an excellent addition to stews or casseroles that call for some sausage because it is able to stand up to long cooking without losing its flavor.
- Polish kielbasa. Like "Italian sausage," kielbasa is more of a generic term than a reference to a specific sausage. The commercial kind is preserved and precooked but the homemade variety is just as often made fresh. I recently had an argument with someone who insisted that the true kielbasa was made solely from pork. In fact, kielbasa can be made from any combination of beef, pork, or veal. Using all three varieties of meat gives the sausage a much more exciting flavor.
Cured sausages would take up the most space in any sausage catalogue. The proliferation of this species is due in part to the imaginations of commercial meat-packing plants' promotional departments. Old-time sausage makers were imaginative, to be sure, but the technological wurstmachers of today never seem to tire of inventing new kinds— or at least new names for old sausages.
Here are some of the cured sausages
- Pepperoni is an Italian-style kind of sausage made from beef and pork. It is quite dry and can be extremely pungent depending upon how much red pepper you dare throw in.
- Salami is a generic term that refers to sausages made from beef or pork or both. It comes in many shapes and sizes and can be quite hard and dry.
- Garlic sausage, the cured kind or variety, is an extremely complex combination of flavors. It is not meant to be used in recipes calling for garlic sausage (that province rests with the fresh variety) but is intended to be eaten out of hand.
- Summer sausage, sometimes called cervelat, beef stick, or beer sausage is a beef or pork and beef kind of sausage that resembles some of the drier salamis but has a milder and somewhat sweeter flavor.
- Chorizo (dried kind or variety) most closely resembles pepperoni in size and shape but is usually many times more pungent.
- Venison sausage is a kind of sausage you'll have to hunt for and your grocer's meat case probably won't have it. It usually includes some pork because, as you know if you've ever tasted venison, it can be very dry if not treated properly.
- Thuringer sausage is a German-style, lightly smoked kind of sausage which, though technically cured, is not extremely dry and is more perishable than other cured sausages. Mace, mustard seed, and coriander provide the flavor.
- Garlic ring bologna is another "almost cured" kind of sausage that is lightly smoked, precooked, and quite garlicky.
- Mettwurst is similar in most respects to garlic ring bologna but is milder in flavor. It contains ginger, celery seed, and allspice.
- Braunschweiger is a pure pork German-style kind of sausage. Its flavor is mild and smoky and accented by onions, mustard seed, and marjoram.
- Smoked country-style sausage is a kind of sausage which is something you've no doubt encountered in the meat case labeled "little smokies" or something similar. You can easily make your own with pork and beef.
- Smoked kielbasa is a kind of sausage you find in the meat case labeled "Polish sausage." It is similar to the fresh variety except that the flavors are more concentrated because it is smoked and pre-cooked.
- Bavarian summer sausage is a German-style kind of salami which is indebted its name from Bavarian beer fests and rye bread. It is very mildly flavored with mustard seed and sugar.
- Yirtmicky is a Czech kind of sausage most easily made if you have access to freshly butchered pork because its ingredients include the meat from a pig's head along with the lungs, heart, and kidneys.