A life spent overseas in underdeveloped countries, while not for everyone, is challenging and rewarding. At least that’s what my husband and I think or thought. I’m in France now But even though I have taken an early out, I look back on the time spent and am so glad that I had the opportunity to learn about and adapt to so many cultures.
I’ve always liked to cook and my family has always liked to eat. “Back in the day” when we first got married and immediately went to live in the Haitian countryside, my husband and I were hungry. He was thinking Italian, mainly pizza. I was thinking lasagna. He agreed because lasagna is thicker than pizza. Thin guy, big appetite.
Anyway, I have to explain about Les Cayes, Haiti in 1976. Les Cayes is located in the southern part of Haiti, 196 km west of the capitol of Port Au Prince. In 1976, it took 12 or more hours to drive from the capitol to Les Cayes over unpaved, washboard roads, fording rivers along the way. The town itself reminded me of….nothing. I had never seen or imagined anything like it. There was one general store that sold everything from pesticides to sandwiches. There was a post office where you could get a post office box but the clerk still had to hand you your mail because the keys had been lost during the hurricane of 1906 or something like that.
Hold on, I’m getting there.
The general store had a sort of all purpose cheese but no lasagna noodles and no fresh meat. Meat was brought to town from the country side markets by the meat man on a pack donkey going door to door (I kid you not). It was silly to ask for ricotta or cottage cheese but I did anyway. I’ve always been that way.
|An unbaked lasagna I made here before losing the oven.
See the mini lasagnas in the background.
So how did I make the lasagna? Armed with my Fanny Farmer and The Peace Corps Cookbook(I was not a Peace Corps volunteer, it was my husband’s old book), I hand rolled the noodles with a rolling pin and made the cottage cheese from dried milk. Not trusting the donkey man’s meat(I had seen people slaughter a cow that had dropped dead in the middle of the road from God knows what), I drove to one of the local markets, watched them slaughter a cow, bought some of it’s meat and took it home and chopped it. The canned tomato paste was quite good(gift of the U.S. government) and ubiquitous in the outdoor markets. Onions and garlic, no problem. I found dried basil and oregano in the general store and their all purpose cheese did the job. The lasagna was fabulous!
Now I said all of that to say this; for the last maybe 25 years, out of necessity, we have made our own sausages and ham. We usually host an annual Octoberfest featuring Bratwurst, Polish, Hot Italian with toppings and home cured mustard glazed ham. We ask our guests to bring the side dishes and desserts. I season the meats, my husband grinds and we both stuff the sausages. The sausage casings are ordered by mail from the Sausage Maker.
Five weeks ahead, I put the fresh ham in a garbage bag with salted brine, onions, garlic and pickling spices, pop it into the vegetable crisper in the fridge, weight it with a brick in a zip lock bag and then forget about it until the day before the party.
Two years ago, we added Boerewors to our repertoire. More than anything, I love the spiral shape.
Laid on with crusty bread, assorted cheeses, mustard, Japanese Potato Salad, beer and/or wine, this sausage is the ultimate in casual dining. Grill it after your guests arrive and have been served their beverage of choice. The spicy aroma from the grill is an invitation to discussion and technical assistance.
I recommend that you use 2 oven racks, laid directly on the grill to assist in turning the sausage.
I guess I should get to the recipe, huh?
Boerewors Sausage Recipe
3lbs of Pork
3lbs of Beef
1lb of Bacon
1/2 cup of Cider Vinegar
5 large minced Garlic Cloves
4 tbsp of Brandy
2 tbsp of Salt
1 tbsp of Black Pepper
3 tbsp of Ground Coriander
1 tsp of Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp of Ground Thyme
1 tsp of Ground Jamaican Allspice
1/2 tsp of Ground Cloves
Cube the meats and chop the bacon, mix and then grind, using a medium-coarse plate. Shake the remaining ingredients in a jar until well blended, then add to the ground meat, mixing well. Stuff into medium sized casings(32-35 mm). Wind into a spiral shape.
At this point you can refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight is better, and then grill. You can also freeze the uncooked sausage on a cookie sheet, carefully transferring it to a really large zip lock bag, when it is partially frozen and holds the shape . Can be stored frozen for up to 3 months.
To grill, remove the rack from your BBQ pit, carefully place the (thawed if frozen) sausage spiral between 2 oven racks and place directly on the grill, flipping it over from time to time to brown and cook.
Wine suggestion: Red