Saucisse Minuit June 15, 2011Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Charcutepalooza, Game, Wolfe recipe.
Whenever I try a new recipe (and particularly, I must confess, when I’m trying recipes from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook), I ask myself if the end result is worth the effort. Most of the time, it is – but sometimes, it’s not. Usually, I don’t mind if a dish I’m trying for the first time is ‘just OK’ – it helps me learn more about food preparation, and I can analyse why I didn’t think the dish worked.
However, some recipes make me ask if the result is worth the effort more than others. It’s all very well to decide to make Nero Wolfe’s ultimate sausage recipe, but for me it was quite another when I returned from the market having bought both a goose and a pheasant to make this sausage.
For some reason, it wasn’t until I had the birds in my possession that I realised what an excessive undertaking this was! I had been so focused on the preparation and making sure I had everything that I’d forgotten the larger picture – roast a goose and a pheasant, and then grind them all up to make sausage. To me, this was completely over the top. Roast goose is almost a luxury item, to be enjoyed at Christmas time, and I am not used to thinking of sausages as luxury items.
To back up a bit: for Nero Wolfe, saucisse minuit, is *that* recipe – the one he does not know, and cannot deduce and replicate, although not for lack of trying. He first ate these sausages in the 1930s while travelling in Spain, and immediately “recognized that sausage as high art” (Too Many Cooks). Wolfe tried in vain to meet the creator of the sausage, and, over a number of years, attempted to recreate or even steal the recipe. Finally, in Too Many Cooks he gets his chance – the creator of the saucisse minuit is suspected of murder, and Wolfe agrees to try and free him, on condition that payment is in the form of the sausage recipe.
It must be noted that the recipe provided is illustrative only – it notes ratios of some ingredients to others, but states that the exact quantities are dependent on the weather, temperaments of the guests and the dishes to be eaten before and after. The main filling is provided by roast goose and pheasant, with a little bit of pork and bacon added.
With the same quantities of pheasant and goose to be used, I felt I was safe using some of the goose meat for our own roast dinner. So, after I roasted the bird, we had a Saturday roast of both legs and one of the breasts, with vegetables roasted in the goose fat. The next day, I removed the rest of the goose meat, and also all the meat from the pheasant. And of course I rendered all the goose fat down, and made stock from the bones after I’d stripped all the meat. Luckily, I ended up with exactly the same amount of pheasant and goose meat. I added smaller amounts of pork and (homemade) bacon, and ended up with about 2kg of meat.
The recipe is slightly unconventional in that the meat for the sausage is all cooked before forming the sausage, and also because a slurry is created from chopped onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, red wine and breadcrumbs to which the minced meat is then added.
Nero Wolfe feared that this recipe “was only an accidental blending of ingredients carelessly mixed” (Too Many Cooks), but three servings of the sausages convinced him it was not a fluke. I confess I was a little skeptical when I mixed everything together and ended up with a grey mush.
One benefit of making a sausage with previously cooked ingredients is that it is easy to sample the filling – too easy, some might say… And I was pleasantly surprised to find that although it looked like grey mush, it tasted very nice, and very goose-y. I still don’t love the Kitchen Aid sausage stuffer but found it easier to use than previously, and the casings were stuffed with no major issues.
I cooked some links up on a slow heat (as directed), and made a simple side dish of spinach and blue cheese. Using the same wine I used in the sausages, I made a reduction with thyme and garlic to go over the sausages.
To return to my original question: was it worth purchasing and roasting both a goose and a pheasant? Did the end result of the sausages justify the preparation and labour? The answer is simple: yes. Wolfe was correct. Sausages can be high art, this recipe is not an accident, and this is easily the best sausage I’ve ever tasted.