Welcome to a somewhat-biased review of books about sausage making. The following reviews are the opinion of “el Ducko” and in no way reflect the views of “The Management” (i.e. the peaceful and peace-loving “Chuckwagon”).
As for me, I was an engineer for 43 years and, as such, was trained to like practical stuff: recipes, how-to, why, home-built hardware, and that sort of book. Here is my Book Review Manifesto:
- I don’t like books by celebrity-chefs and wannabes. In fact, I don’t like celebrity chefs OR wannabes, themselves, either.
- I am unimpressed by recipes with fifteen or twenty different ingredients.
- I envy fancy, expensive smokers, but am not above doing a little sheet metal work and electronics in order to build my own equipment. …even if it DOES cost more, that way.
- I think that ingredients from ethnic grocery stores are okay in moderation, but draw the line at exotic, hard-to-find, expensive items, even if available by mail-order.
- I like to get my hands dirty, but I always wash them thoroughly and usually wear gloves. Sanitation is VERY important.
So there! Read on for the latest book reviews.
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Highly Recommended “Bibles” (for Home Sausage Making Enthusiasts)
- “Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski
- Also from Bookmagic.com :“The Art Of Making Fermented Sausages” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski“Making Healthy Sausages” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski“Meat Smoking And Smokehouse Design” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski
“Curing And Smoking Fish” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski
“Home Canning Meat, Poultry, Fish, And Vegetables” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski
“Home Production Of Vodkas, Infusions & Liqueurs” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski
“The Amazing Millet” by Adam Marianski
“Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickles, & Relishes” by by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski
“The Art Of Making Vegetarian Sausages” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski
“Polish Sausages” by Stanly Marianski and Miroslaw Gebarowski
- “Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing, 4th Edition” by the late Rytek Kutas
Highly Recommended (for Home Sausage Making Enthusiasts)
- “Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book” by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
Conditionally Recommended: (for “Foodies” only)
- “Sausage Making, The Definitive Guide with Recipes” by Ryan Farr with Jessica Battilana
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Long-standing List: Bibles:
I still recommend “Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages” by Stanly Marianski and Adam Marianski, BookMagic LLC, Seminole, Florida, published in 2010, as the bible for our craft. It moves slightly ahead of the previous bible, “Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing” by the late Rytek Kutas, 4th edition, published by The Sausage Maker, Inc, Buffalo, NY, 2008
Both books are available on Amazon (what isn’t?) or directly from The Sausage Maker, 1500 Clinton St, Bldg. 123, Dept. 40001-01, Buffalo, NY 14206. I need to review them for you in greater detail. …later. For now, though, buy the Marianskis’ book, and on the next order that you place, buy the Kutas book. The Marianski clan have several other books on sausage making, all recommended, but “Home Production…” is the one to buy first.
Today’s Review and Recommendations:
“Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book” by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly – There are two types of sausage making recipes out there, I’m beginning to believe- – recipes that include apples/pears/fruits and those which don’t.
…not that I disparage any of ‘em. Sausages, all sorts of ‘em, are good, even if they taste bad. Chalk that one up to an overdose of liverwurst sandwiches in 1st grade. Blame it on Mom. …as well as all my other faults, right?
As I’ve matured, I’ve recovered. …perhaps even, healed. Sausages, most of ‘em, taste good, now. …except for English “black pudding.” Sorry- – rant warning! England, a country whose cooking is so bad that its own cooking loses out to Indian Tikka Masala as a national dish, whose best bets for dining are Indian and Chinese take-out… I draw a line, and “black pudding” is on the wrong side of it.
Lately, though, other efforts have crossed that line. There is a line, perhaps a continental divide, between traditional types of sausages and non-traditional chef-innovated sausages. (Blame THAT one on California?) It’s part of that awful “celebrity chef” phenomenon that has swept the television networks. We now have experts on, for example, ‘Southwest’ cooking (from Brooklyn, or is it Queens?), Cajun cooking (from Boston, or is it Cambridge?), from… Okay, okay. Rant alert. You know who they are. …enough. As for most of them, the writers behind them keep them propped up, but the louder the men and the cuter (and louder) the women, the less I care for their efforts. Some are obnoxious. Some are former inmates, and would still be behind bars if I had my way. Some couldn’t boil water unless the directions are in the script.
But occasionally, along come one or two of those less-charismatic or more quirky people, one of a few Julia-Child-quality cooks of our day who are in doggone short supply. You find them on the back-channels of public television stations, perhaps, or in local venues, or writing small-press books.
Bruce Aidells, of San Francisco, may be one. He has gone main stream to the extent that he sells his sausages at Costco and his books on the “dash-two” channels of public television, out of the mainstream surge in celebrity-chef-wannabes, someone who can cook and doesn’t have to hawk his own line of cookware and gadgets. Yeah, he has a retail presence, but it’s an unobtrusive one.
…not that THAT is bad, because it increases the available supply of sausages, some awful but most pretty tasty. It also encourages innovation, as witness the “no nitrite added” movement. (Oh, No! …another rant! “Shields up! Red alert!”) Those guys, instead of adding known amounts of nitrite to prevent food poisoning, load WAY up on celery juice, which contains WAY more nitrate (the bad guy) than recommended by the FDA. It’s ‘naturally occurring,’ they say, so how can it be bad? Well, mainly because grilling nitrate-containing meats at high temperatures is suspected of forming carcinogens. Celery is fine. Sausages are fine. Combine the two and cook at high temperature and it’s a bad combination. But there I go, off on another rant. Skip the celery juice and the like, for now. We’ll address that separately.
Back to Bruce Aidells. His book, “Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book” by Aidells and Denis Kelly, 10-Speed Press, Berkeley, 2000 edition, contains quite a few, many traditional, recipes from all over the world. Many of these sausages are available in this country, in familiar form, at delicatessens and grocery stores and, yes, even discount warehouse emporium coolers. The book includes not only the sausage recipes, but also recipes for dishes which use sausage as an ingredient.
This particular item, dishes with sausage as an ingredient, is an important lesson. I have made the mistake of trying different sausages only in grilled form and, after a short while, the family rebelled against eating them, I find this “sausage as an ingredient” portion of his book very helpful. The book lists for USD 21.99, and I recommend it as a useful addition to your sausage library.
And… UhOh! …spoiler alert! There’s a recipe for his chicken and apple sausage, a combination that is sold in retail stores and is, I must admit, tasty if non-traditional. There are other obviously West Coast items, such as his spinach, pork, and game sausage. …not many other exotic sausage recipes, but a few. That’s okay. Two thirds of the book is devoted to recipes containing sausage. The sausage recipes are a valuable basis for the book, but this last two-thirds… Now, THERE’s the value.
Reviewed, But Only Conditionally Recommended:
Now, let’s skip to a new book, “Sausage Making, The Definitive Guide with Recipes” by Ryan Farr with Jessica Battilana, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, published in 2014. I bought this book to fill out an order from Amazon (the car parts didn’t qualify the order for free shipping, I think). How could I possibly go wrong? This was Amazon, right? …second only to the CIA, Microsoft, Apple, and Google in terms of world powers?
…wrong only in the sense that the book is over half ‘new/innovative’ recipes. There’s a short section on sausage making and cooking for those new to the field, which is good and thorough. This is perhaps the saving feature of the book. But following that, Farr breaks down his sections in non-traditional manner: instead of the
• Fresh sausage
• Smoked/Cooked Sausage
• Dried sausages
• Fermented sausages
he divides his sausage world into:
• Coarse Sausage (distinct ingredients, crumbly, often un-cased)
• Firm Sausage (tight, whipped, solid links containing little water)
• Soft Sausage (lightly-mixed, with higher percent liquid and fat)
• Smooth Sausage (emulsified, pureed soft sausage incorporating air)
• Combination (pastry-wrapped terrines and the like, stuffings for other recipes, etc)
He has taken a chef-d’cuisine approach to sausages, rather than a traditional butchers’ approach. Reading the Table of Contents is like looking through a French or Italian cookbook- – those other languages’ words pop out at you, inviting you to have a look. Maybe fifteen percent are traditional names.
Even the traditional recipes are embellished- – the chorizo recipe, for example, has eighteen ingredients, plus the casing. I randomly opened the book to “Boudin Noir with Winter Fruit,” a nineteen-ingredient recipe replete with fruit, eggs, and heavy cream. One ingredient, the fruit, reads as “Finely diced fresh pear, apple, or fuyu persimmon.”
…in San Francisco, maybe, or in your dreams, but not in average America. I gave up on the book at the “Guinea Hen and Kim Chee Links” recipe, which includes over 5% chicharrones (pork skins to many of us). Even the liverwurst recipe, bane of my childhood, has fourteen ingredients, including heavy cream, eggs, crème fraiche, and Madera.
I suspect that the liverwurst is good. I’m also sure that it would be wasted on a 1st grader. In fact, most of the recipes would be wasted on us typical homemade sausage makers. This book might be a useful addition to your sausage-making library if you are into fine dining or pushing-the-limits cooking. For most of us, though, I’d advise you to spend your money elsewhere. At USD 35.00 list price for the book, you can buy a lot of pork products instead. …including chicharrones.
…and there are errors, the most notable one on the summer sausage pages, where he states that
“I prefer to use dextrose in place of sugar because the sausage hangs for a week before it is smoked, during which time the dextrose raises the pH, giving the finished sausage its tangy flavor.”
In fact, dextrose is food for the fermentation bacteria which cause the pH to fall during that week of hanging, producing the tang. Some sausage makers prefer to refrigerate but others do not, ensuring that the fermentation take place. The pH drop, combined with the drying reducing the available water, serves to preserve the sausage. He makes no mention of this.