Toulouse Sausage

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One of the joint culinary loves of Australians and Frenchmen alike is that of the sausage. The humble sausage is deeply entrenched in the food culture of each nation, whether is be as the quintessential BBQ food Down Under or as the staple at every French country table. But while snags are often relegated to summer dinners and hardware store parking lots here, the French relationship with the sausage is closer to one of hero worship. That’s not to say you can’t find excellent, quality sausages in Aussie butchers, but back in France there’s just so much history and variety in grind of meat, herbs, and sizes.

Most regions have their own specialty, like so many foods in France, and today I’m showing you a personal favourite. It’s the Toulouse sausage (named after the town). It’s a pork sausage characterized by a courser grind, usually prepared in a long string and presented as a coil. They are also the sausage that is used to make the perfect Cassoulet.

Toulouse Sausage:

Ingredients:

  • 600g pork shoulder
  • 200g pork belly
  • 200g pork neck
  • 16g salt
  • 5g ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon 4 spice
  • 1 small glass white wine, about 80ml
  • sausage casings
  • 30 ml cognac
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated
  • pinch of Herb de Provençe

Method:

  1. Soak the casings in warm water for ½ hour before using.
  2. Put the meat through a the meat mincer equipped with the coarse grid.
  3. Then add the white wine, cognac, salt, pepper and the spices. Mix well, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to marinate the mince.
  4. Once rested, mix well and put the meat in the sausage skin using the sausage attachment on your mincer. Don’t go too fast as you need to make sure the meat is compressed enough in the skin, so there is no air pocket and also that they are the right size.
  5. Hang the sausage in a cool dry place and they are ready to use the next day or alternatively you can also freeze them!

Tips: You can make individual sausages by pinching and twisting the sausage, the size is up to you. Personally I prefer to cook whole so it stays juicier and it’s also better for sharing.

Serving suggestion: I served my Toulouse sausage with a Rocket, Packam pear, Roquefort and walnut salad dressed with a raspberry vinegar dressing.

Matching wine: Chateau Viranel “Arome Sauvage” from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

 

France Culinary Travel Diary – Carcassonne and Toulouse

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – Carcassonne and Toulouse

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Though it’s commonplace for French kids to grow up being surrounded by chateau-a-plenty countryside, and villages filled with wooden shutters and terracotta tiled roofs, even I was in awe when I laid eyes on the medieval fortress city of Carcassonne. With a history dating back to Roman times, full of sieges, ruin and renovation, the city walls still hold many secrets.

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What’s not a secret though, is that some of the best Cassoulet in the world can be found here, and because it’s a regional specialty it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. It’s hard to find somewhere to eat within the fortress walls that isn’t “touristy” but I couldn’t have been happier with my choices, which were a little more tucked away. The first was L’Adelaïde and the second was Le Chaudron. The cassoulet at both ticked all the key boxes: crispy top layer, stewed Lingot beans, confit de canard & saucisse de Toulouse, while Le Chaudron’s version also featured pork to their dish, which was the point of difference for me to declare theirs my favourite. A word to the wise, Cassoulet is incredibly rich and filling so it’s best enjoyed at lunch and in the cooler months.

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After Carcasonne, The Madame and I stayed in Toulouse so we took the opportunity to try another variation of the Cassoulet. I could taste the difference immediately between each towns’ version. My Toulouse Cassoulet from Cave au Cassoulet, was saucier (with a hint of tomato), richer (thanks more duck fat being included in the recipe) and, in my opinion, used more delicious sausages (as I’d expect considering the city of Toulouse is the sausage’s namesake). Though I heartily enjoyed every Cassoulet, my overall favourite remains Le Chaudron’s in Carcasonne. It’s all a matter of personal taste though, so if you’ve found somewhere you think serves better, let me know in the comments below! And, if you can’t head to France anytime soon, but are craving something hearty for a cold winter’s day, check out my recipe and try your hand at it.

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For lunch on the go in Toulouse that’s a little lighter on the stomach and the pocket, you can’t go past Pikanik, a super trendy but equally delicious sandwich and salad bar that was packed by lunch time with students, office workers and tourists alike. For under 10€ you get your choice of salad or baguette, drink and dessert, and it’s even less if you don’t want all 3.

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The true gem of Toulouse though, as a coffee lover, is La Fiancée, a Salon de Café that served coffee to rival the best Melbourne cafés, including perfectly poured lattés! The staff were friendly, the decor justifiably hipster and the location perfect for people watching. A must visit!

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My Carcassonne & Toulouse Picks:

  • L’Adelaïde – 5 Rue Adélaïde de Toulouse 11000 Carcassonne
  • La Chaudron – 6 Rue Saint-Jean 11000 La Cité Carcassonne
  • La Cave au Cassoulet – 54 Rue Peyrolières 31000 Toulouse
  • Pik nik – 6 Bis Rue Roumiguières 31000 Toulouse
  • La Fiancée – 54 Rue Peyrolières 31000 Toulouse

Regional Cooking Part 3: Cassoulet

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The Cassoulet has to be one of my all time favourite French dishes, and, as Winter approaches, the one that I start to crave the most. Its heartiness makes it the perfect remedy to chilly winds and bleak skies and the fact that it freezes so well means you can make a big batch to then have it ready on hand in smaller portions when a cold day calls for it.

The original birthplace of this bean stew is claimed to be the town of Castelnaudary in the south of France, however slight variations are equally famous in the nearby towns of Carcassonne and Toulouse. Regardless of where it originated, it’s agreed that how it came to be, like so many other now-quintessential French dishes, was peasant food, born from the need to make something out of whatever was leftover or cheap.

The Castelnaudry Cassoulet, which is the version I am most familiar with, calls for confit duck, Toulouse (pork) sausage, haricot blanc or lingot beans, which are slow cooked and finished off under the grill so that a tantalising crust forms on top, right before serving.

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Cassoulet

  • 1 kg Haricot beans or lingot beans
  • 300g Kaiserflesh (smoked pork belly), diced
  • 250 g boneless pork shoulder, diced
  • 2 brown onions, picked with 3 cloves each
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 Toulouse sausages
  • 5 Confit duck legs
  • 1 tin crush tomato

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Method:

  1. Place the beans, chopped thyme, bay leaves, smoked pork belly, sliced garlic, cloves, onions and crushed tomato in a deep cooking pot. Cover with hot water and cook on medium heat until the bean becomes slightly soft.
  2. In the mean time, heat up a small frying pan with some olive oil. Season and Quickly seal the pork shoulder and sausages on all sides. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
  3. Pour the bean mix in a dip baking tray and place the duck legs, pork shoulder and sausages on top. Bake for 2 hours covered with foil and 1 ½ hours uncovered to crisp up the beans.
  4. Serve with a side of green salad and a Chateau Viranel “Saint-Chinian” available from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Bon Appétit

Le Fermier