Accidental Locavore Liverwursts

The July Charcutepalooza challenge is to stuff an emulsified sausage, or smooth textured sausage…think hot dogs. Some of the options for the Accidental Locavore were bratwurst, hot dogs, or mortadella, but since there’s two of us, the thought of eating our way through a huge hunk of luncheon meat that neither the Locavore or her husband are particularly fond of, seemed like a non-starter. Boudin blanc was an option, but that’s kind of ho-hum in a French way (comme ci, comme ca?). How about liverwurst? It’s emulsified and happens to be one of Frank’s favorite sandwiches: on a roll with lots of onion and mustard. Personally, the Locavore only likes liver from two-footed fowl, but that’s a blog for another day.

The challenge with liverwurst, from what I understand, is finding pork liver. As it turns out, a few weeks ago, at the Brooklyn Kitchen for a pickling class with Rick Fields from Rick’s Picks (great pickles using all local goodies; if you don’t know about them, you should), what did a Locavore run into but a nice hunky (and local) pigs liver! Which is a roundabout way of telling you how I deviated from bologna to liverwurst via Williamsburg.

Accidental Locavore Pig LiverArmed with the liver and shoulder of a pig, the liverwurst is ready to proceed. The trick with forcemeats (chef-speak), which is what this is, is keeping everything really cold to ensure a very smooth, almost creamy texture. I don’t think my Kitchen Aid gave me a fine enough grind, even after two passes and while emulsifying the liverwurst-to-be, the Cuisinart passed out from abuse.

When everything was done, the Locavore ended up with one liverwurst in a hogs casing and another larger one which I rolled in Saran Wrap, then vacuum sealed. They then get poached, or for more chef-speak cooked sous-vide and cooled.

The final verdict? I thought the texture was a little too coarse and since I used fresh herbs from my garden, instead of dried, there were tiny specks of green, which you don’t see in commercial liverwurst.

Frank thought the same about the texture, it wasn’t as fine and creamy as what he’s used to. He liked the flavor a lot and is happily looking forward to packing a couple of sandwiches to take to the tennis matches. Be glad you’re not sitting next to him…




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Accidental Locavore Merguez Sliders

For the Accidental Locavore May turned into merguez month. This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was grinding and I decided to go for the advanced challenge; making merguez. If you’re not familiar with merguez, it’s a spicy, North African lamb sausage and one of my favorites. The challenge was supposed to be more about grinding your own meat, than making link sausage, however once you get started…

The locavore used a recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow (the brains behind Charcutepalooza) on Food52, combined with ideas from Charcuterie. Grinding the lamb and mixing it with spices and harissa was easy. Whenever you make sausage and/or pate (forcemeat) two rules are critical: everything must be kept very cold, and you always want to make a small patty, fry it up, and check it for seasonings. Mine needed salt and a little more heat, so I added some hot smoked paprika to the original recipe.Accidental Locavore Merguez

The Accidental Locavore took a huge amount of time dealing with the sausage casings. I was using sheep’s casings as they are smaller than pig’s and merguez is a thinner sausage than say, Italian sausage.  Mistake! Imagine trying to work something similar to slimy overcooked angel hair pasta and you start to get the idea. I’ve made sausage before, but it’s been a while and never with these tiny casings. Once I managed to get the sausages stuffed they did in fact, look like merguez. By this time, it was late, I was tired and still hadn’t eaten dinner. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention…

I took the leftover sausage meat, made patties and fried them up. Halfway through, inspiration! There was some beautiful lettuce in the fridge and a log of a somewhat local (Vermont) chèvre. A new classic was born: merguez sliders with goat cheese on a bed of greens. I topped the merguez patties with a slice of chèvre and stuck them under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. While that was working, a quick vinaigrette: equal parts good red wine vinegar and good olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Beat with a fork until well combined (the mustard acts as an emulsifier and holds it all together). You can add a small minced shallot and/or some herbs de Provence if you like, or be lazy like me and keep it simple.

What a great combination! Next time the Accidental Locavore will grill the merguez patties, excuse me, sliders, add a few toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top and perfection!