Usually when I make sausage, I do so thinking of flavors I like together and keep the circle relatively closed. In this case, I made sausage thinking about how I was planning to use them, in a cassoulet, and how I wanted the sausages to season the cassoulet. There are plenty of great flavor combinations in sausages, but I really wanted to add the punchy flavors of bay and peppercorns to the super-rich cassoulet along with the pork drippings themselves and how better to transfer the flavors than by attaching them to pork fat?
Clearly Toulouse sausages are the most recognizable cassoulet sausages, but I wanted something original. With a jar of beautiful pink peppercorns from Turkey and a bay plant in hibernation, I figured it best to keep things simple.
In assembling the sausages, I found myself back at the mortar and pestle. I have been using this took more and more frequently to make textures uniform without losing flavor to blades and plastic (working out aggression doesn’t hurt) and found a beautiful red/pink and green mosaic as I finished pounding the spices.
Once the spices were added to the sausage forcemeat, I cooked and tasted it. The bay and peppercorns played off of each other and was very aggressively seasoned. Not salty, but almost carrying a menthol flavor between the other two additions. After tasting, the sausages were stuffed and twisted off. I browned them in a skillet and added them to the cassoulet.
Once the sausages emerged from the bean, pork, lamb, breadcrumbs, goose and goosefat bath, I was interested to see how my hopes of flavor transfer would work. The cassoulet was delicious and the flavors of bay and pink peppercorns were present throughout. The sausages are no longer super-punchy, but have the same flavors, but somewhat muted. The textures, likely from poaching in the tomato, goose stock and bean juice, was incredible – soft and luscious with a crust from browning before braising. These flavors, as well as those which were transferred, provided a little balance to the rich bean stew. I will continue to look for ways to build these flavors in different ways.
Pink Peppercorn & Bay Sausage
- 1000 grams fatty ground pork
- 10 grams pink peppercorns
- 14 grams kosher salt
- 3 small bay leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/3 cup white wine
Step one: Pound salt, bay, garlic and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Add to pork with wine.
Step two: Using your hands or your stand mixer, bind the sausage.
Step three: Stuff and twist off sausages.