Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playing with Links, Logs and Wieners

Because I have an eternal lust for sausages and after experiencing a lovely Austrian sausage meal by Chef Bernhard Mairinger at Bier Beisl earlier this year, the Cute Gardener and I decided to recreate a sausage tasting together at home. After a little research we discovered that Mairinger buys all of his sausage for the restaurant from Continental Gourmet Sausage in Glendale so we decided to take a Saturday trek for links.

The deli was a serious place and aside from the crazy woman who ran in while we were there frantically demanding “gooseberry” jam, it had just about everything anyone would look for when trying to replicate an authentic German meal. Sausages galore, various lingonberry spreads, raspberry jelly candies, all the brands of European chocolates and yogurt based treats, dense marzipan roll cakes, mustards in various grains, and hearty, rye and rustic breads. They only take cash or checks though which is a little odd in this day and age but good to know if you are going to drive all the way to Glendale.

We chose our loot consisting of the following sausages:

Gelbwurst (veal)
Blood sausage
Swiss Bockwurst (Weisswurst)
Debreziner (Hungarian spiced wieners)
Kase Krainer (Swiss cheese stuffed sausage)

and ventured home.

On night number one, we decided to cook links and try each out with various preparations.

For the fragile and subtle Weisswurst, we chose to prepare a slow boil of leftover chardonnay, vermouth and white wine vinegar studded with onions and carrots. Once simmering, we added the plump white logs and covered to slow cook.

For the Swiss cheese stuffed variety and a wiener, we decided to toaster over them into a crisp outer plumpness accentuated by juicy innards and laid them in a bed of carrots and fava beans to roast.

We then made a mustard sauce the GC found in his French cookbook normally used for veal kidneys that turned out a hit for the evening.

Simple Instruction for this sauce that would be good over a variety of rich meats:

Melt four tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Add two shallots that have been peeled and minced till soft. Stir in ¼ cup of cognac then six tablespoons of heavy cream. Lastly, stir in about three to four tablespoons of Dijon mustard to your particular taste. 

We understood after a few minutes of simmering the Weisswurst why Chef Mairinger had painstakingly slow simmered the sausage in a bath of soft milk. Ours split and popped open in an unfortunate moment causing the poor thing to look like some poor, circumcised…. well you get the idea.

Not prone to reject the runt that still probably offered us a good taste, we served it side by side with its better looking brother and decorated it cosmetically with the mustard sauce.

We also simmered another of the Hungarian spiced wieners in a broth of ginger ale and gin. It cooked nicely enough but was wrinkly and less exciting then its relative that came out of the toaster oven.

The lesson we learned this evening is that sausages take a certain amount of care and cook really fast. The carrots and favas from the toaster oven had to be pan, flash sautéed to catch up with the rest of our meal at the end. We also learned that the grainier sausages and the ones stuffed with cheese, are much better grilled, baked or toasted, while the more fragile ones with the dense and fine grains are better slow simmered and cared for with kid gloves. And that everything tastes good with a hunk of pretzel bread.

On evening two, we decided to skip the cooking and have a little cheese and charcuterie. We created a great starter salad out of artisanal lettuce, butternut squash chunks, chia seeds, champagne vinegar, walnut oil, and the reduced remains of the carrot-onion broth from the weisswurst sausage simmer the night before.

Cold, leftover slices from the night before’s cooked sausages, adorned the plate around freshly sliced circles of the blood and Gelbwurst sausages. With grainy mustard on Cuban white bread and rye sourdough, it was fun to mix and match the meats. I favored the dark and dirty blood while the GC favored the pale, clandestine veal; not uncommon for our puzzle pieced palates.

And of course, as is customary to our evenings in, we enjoyed some good cream and blue cheese and a magnificent bottle of pinot alongside the meal.

We ate like Viennese royalty for two nights straight for a fraction of the price of any similar restaurant. I am definitely a fan of seeking out the cuisine of different cultures, not in the grocery store, but in the delis and small businesses run by people who not only know and present the authentic food, but also who charge the respectable prices.

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