Scandinavia has a huge variety of sausages, some for slicing like salami, smoked sausages meant for cooking with cabbage or dried peas and wiener/frankfurter-type sausages. Scandinavian sausages is an old tradition.
Many shop-bought sausages are industrial ones brimming with fat and preservatives that almost glow in the dark from the pinkish-red coloring and do not even contain regular meat.
However, there is also a growing number of small-scale butchers and sausage-makers producing beautiful charcuterie, though it’s not always easy to find.
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Where to buy them
Farms shops, farmer’s markets and specialty shops in the cities are the best sources of delectable sausages and other charcuterie.
Store-bought medisterpølse are not generally to be trusted (it is too tempting for the industrial sausage-makers to tamper with a basic recipe) so they should be bought from a good butcher. You can also buy smoked medisterpølse, which is often fried in slices to eat with mashed potatoes, or used as a topping for open sandwiches.
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Most traditional charcuterie is not easily replicable at home, since it needs cold smoking, but the medisterpølse recipe below is easy to make at home and well worth the trouble.
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This thick spicy sausage is eaten in varying ways all over Scandinavia. It is a classic part of yellow split pea soup and is often just fried in plenty of butter, as a dinner dish, and eaten with pickled red cabbage, pickled beetroot, and either creamed cabbage or creamed kale, mustard and potatoes. Leftovers are also very good on rye bread with pickled red cabbage and mustard.
The recipe below is admittedly more spiced and interesting than is traditional, but not so much that the sausages aren’t recognizable. It’s a popular Christmas dish. The natural sausage skins are made from the animal’s intestines, which are salted, and your butcher will supply them, if given proper notice.
For the brine
2.5 liters water
250g coarse sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
10 whole allspice
Walnut-size piece of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
For the sausages
3kg fatty cut of pork (belly, neck and/or rib) cut into 4x4cm cubes
250g onions, quartered
½ garlic bulb
6-7 tablespoons potato starch
Water or pork-stock (made from bones)
Butter, for frying
Salt and pepper
Natural sausage skins, preserved in salt
Spices from the brine
Butter, for frying
Makes about 4kg
To make the brine, boil up the water, sugar and salt in a pan. Remove the scum until no more appears. Add the spices and herbs and allow the brine to simmer for 30 minutes. Let it cool completely.
Add the meat, onions and garlic to the cooled brine. Leave it to salt for at least 8 hours, but no more than 12. Drain the spices, meat and onions from the bine using a colander, and discard the liquid. Wash the meat briefly with cold water while it’s still in the colander, then spread it on to a clean tea-towel to dry.
Mince the meat, onions and spices in an old-fashioned or electric mincer: if the holes are very big, mince it twice, though the meat must not be finely minced. Mix the forcemeat with the potato starch and sufficient water or stock to make a soft shapeable ‘dough’. The more you mix it, the juicier the sausages will be. When you think it’s finished, fry a small patty in butter. Adjust the seasoning.
Wash the sausage skins on the outside by folding the skin on to the cold-water tap, and then turn on the water to flush on the inside. It may look funny but it works.
Put the forcemeat through the meat-mincer with the sausage appliance attached but be careful not to stuff the sausages too tightly or they will burst when you fry them. You can make portion-sized sausages, or 1m lengths to fill a frying pan, when coiled up.
These sausages are made from fresh meat, and must be eaten within a few days, or frozen.
Scandinavian Sausages, written by Tor Kjolberg