Salamis and other cured sausages

 Salamis and other cured sausages Key facts Salamis probably originated with the need to preserve meat for the winter months, especially in more inhospitable mountain areas. As a result, salt, spices and air-drying techniques developed with each country championing its own version, from chorizo in Spain to wurst in Germany and salami in Italy.

The British way with sausages has always been to put them straight into the pan but, by taking the same minced meat and fat, adding more salt and sometimes a little wine, then hanging the sausage up to mature and dry in its skin, European sausage-makers have produced a glorious range of cutting and keeping sausages.

We tend to call these salamis but really the names are legion. Here is a brief description of the ones used in the recipes.

Chorizo:  Chorizo is not one but hundreds of different Spanish sausages. These can be smoked or unsmoked, made with or without wine and with varying strengths of garlic but, say sausage and charcuterie experts, the two things that are in common to all are pork and pimento. A picante chorizo will be spicy hot. The big bore slicing chorizo can be eaten just like salami. Smaller, softer chorizo are usually made to be cooked and served whole. You can buy really good chorizo from Brindisa at

French garlic sausage: This is an example of the smaller, softer kind of quick-cured sausage made to be eaten hot.

Kabaños: A Polish cured sausage made with coarse minced pork, Kabanos is made in long, slim links and lightly smoked. It can be eaten as it is, or cooked.

Salami:  Or, more correctly, salame. Every small town in Italy seems to have evolved a variation using a different part of the gut for casing, or mixing different meats, or adding its own special touch with the seasoning. Some think wine is essential for moisture and developing a special character during the cure, others use nothing but pork, hard back fat (from the pig’s back) and white peppercorns. The joy of buying salami from the right shop is being offered several to taste, but if you don’t have the time a Milano salami is generally good.

Mortadella:  This is a sausage the size of a party-sized haggis which is made from very finely minced meat (purists in Bologna, the Mortadella capital, say made purely from pork) studded with a few flecks of fat and incased in a bladder. It is cooked first, then left to mature for a brief time only.

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