In Search of Sausage (and Salami)

by Anne Maxfield on April 6, 2015

Accidental Locavore Muncan's Sausages Accidental Locavore Muncan's CounterAfter the Accidental Locavore’s Croatian dinner, I needed to see if I could find some of the amazing charcuterie a little closer to home. With dreams of the kulin wafting through my brain, I was directed to Muncan’s in Astoria. If browsing their website doesn’t make you hungry, you’re probably vegan. And if the website is appealing, imagine the store itself (just picture a shrine to cured meats)!

The easiest part of it is the subway ride, because once you’re there you’re bound to be overwhelmed. If 15 different types of bacon don’t do it for you, there are literally hundreds of smoked and cured sausages and salami hanging from the ceiling. Even my kulin mission had me deciding between a kulin sausage and a kulin salami (I took the sausage).

Accidental Locavore Muncans Display CaseAfter that, I availed myself of the expertise of the counter man. We decided on a hot salami, a couple of small square sausages (that reminded me of ones I liked from Morse’s in Maine) and a lumpy looking salami that when sliced has a scalloped edge.

They have prosciutto made from almost any animal or bird, so I decided to give the lamb one a shot. It was delicious, a little smoky and a little salty (both good qualities in my mind), but I’m not sure I would recognize it as tasting particularly like lamb.

Although not as amazing as the one we were served at the dinner, the kulin was good. This one was smoky with a little heat and an almost crumbly texture. Probably a good thing or I would have scarfed it all down in a heartbeat.Accidental Locavore Sausages from Muncan's

The “lumpy” salami was great–mild, with a little garlic and a good amount of fat. Between sandwiches and sneaking pieces on the sly, it was the first to go.

The spicy sausage was almost a cross between the kulin and a chorizo. Very spicy, with a lot of hot paprika, it also had that nice crumbly texture and not a ton of fat.

And finally, the square ones were really nice and fatty and smoky. I think they were the best snacking ones (and put them to that use).

Now, I’m looking forward to my next trip over there to see what other goodies lay in store. Remember, I still haven’t tried any of the 15 types of bacon yet!



Bangers and Mash

by Anne Maxfield on March 12, 2015

Accidental Locavore Bangers and MashOne of the guys the Accidental Locavore’s husband plays tennis with has a British wife, so we’ve been bringing them bangers from Jacuterie at the Millerton Farmers’ Market. Last trip we decided to pick up a pack and try them ourselves. I thought it was just going to be a quickie dinner, not knowing that bangers and mash require onion gravy. This made 2 very generous portions.


For the sausages:

  • 4 large pork sausages, preferably English bangers
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the gravy:

  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Salt and pepper

For the potatoes:

  • 3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper

Accidental Locavore Cooking BangersBring a large pot of water to boil on high heat, add the bangers, lower heat, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from water and drain on paper towels.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the sausages, turning every 2-3 minutes, until skin is crispy and well-browned. Remove and set aside.

Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add onion. Stir briefly to coat with oil and leave for 15 minutes untouched. Flip the onions and leave them for another 15 minutes. Lower heat and stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until all onions are dark brown and caramelized, about another 15 minutes.

When the onions are dark brown and completely soft, add flour and stir well to coat, then pour beef stock over to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits of onion and sausage that may be stuck to the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, add 1 tablespoon of butter, stir well and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the sausages.

Fill a large pot with water, add plenty of salt and cubed potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork-tender, 7-8 minutes, then drain and immediately return to pot. Pour in milk and remaining butter, then mash with a potato masher until smooth but still slightly chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the bangers and gravy over the mashed potatoes and enjoy!

My verdict: Like I said in the intro, I wasn’t expecting to spend 45 minutes making gravy…

This may be an acquired taste, or one of those comfort foods like pot pies, that I don’t understand the charms of. Not being an expert on bangers, I found these to be pretty basic sausages, certainly not as good as most of the other charcuterie we’ve gotten from Jacuterie. The gravy, for all the time it took, was also pretty ho-hum (and quite frankly, if I’m going to spend that much time on onions, it’s for onion soup!). Mashed potatoes were great, but how hard is it to screw up mashed potatoes? If I was doing it again, it would be grilled sausages over mashed potatoes, letting good sausages and potatoes shine on their own.






Accidental Locavore Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a classic French dish of either duck or goose confit, sausages, and beans. It’s a great example of a simple dish, riffs on pork and beans taken to another level. The Accidental Locavore recently got an offer from D’Artagnan for 20% off their cassoulet kit. Since my parents were supposed to be coming for the weekend, it looked like a good weekend cooking project, not to mention a terrific January dinner, so why not? In between snow storms, a huge, really huge, box arrived from D’Artagnan. In it, beautifully packaged, was everything you need to put together a cassoulet dinner. Part of what makes making cassoulet difficult (in this country anyway), is assembling all the ingredients, but now that was all done, and all that was needed was a hungry audience. A very hungry audience. For in my ordering excitement, I never read the fine print, and had no idea that this cassoulet kit, actually fed twelve people!

Unfortunately, my parents have been snowed in in Boston for the past, let’s say, month, so I decided to round up a bunch of the best eaters I know and have a cassoulet party here in the city. D’Artagnan really makes it easy, the only thing I needed to buy was a carrot. You soak the beans the night before, cook them for an hour with a couple of onions, the aforementioned carrot, and a bouquet garni, and then move into constructing the cassoulet. A layer of beans goes in the bottom of a very large casserole, followed by the duck confit, some sliced garlic sausage, pork ventreche (fatback French style), and some duck sausage. Top with the rest of the beans, and pour over a mix of duck demi-glace diluted in water, cover and cook for about 2 hours in a low oven. You can’t imagine how good it smelled.

So my hungry friends schlepped through the remnants of yet another snow storm, and devoured the cassoulet, the braised leeks, a lovely spinach salad my friend Holly brought, and many bottles of wine. For desert Laura made a warm apple tart, and Robin brought an amazing chocolate cake. It was a fun dinner, a delicious meal, and the perfect thing for a snowy January night. I’d order another one from D’Artagnan in a heartbeat, it’s a great way to entertain.