Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sausages in France. A Short Introduction to France’s World of Sausages. The Sausages of France III.

from
Behind the French Menu. 
by
Bryan Newman 
Last updated 2016


 Sausages.
An important part of French cuisine.
 
  
Sausages on sale in a charcuterie.  
Photograph courtesy of z_aurelie
  
Visitors with limited free time on their visit to France may well miss out on France’s excellent sausages.  Most first-time visitors want to explore France's finer restaurants; however, on a day when a light lunch in a bistro or small restaurant fits the bill that is the time look for sausages on the menu. If there is time for picnic lunch go to a charcuterie-traiteur, a French delicatessen,  and buy slices from one or more of France's popular saucissons sec, their salami-type sausages.

The French sausage and the English kitchen.

When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he and his Norman-French Barons brought their cooks with them. Those cooks brought French recipes and words with them that changed the language and the cooking techniques in the English kitchen. Among the many words they imported was the  French word saucisse; saucisse would become sausage in English and later part of the traditional Irish and English Breakfast. For more about the French influence on the English kitchen click here. 
     
French sausages on restaurant menus, or in a butcher’s shop, often do not indicate with which meat it is made, and in that case, it is practically always pork.  When a sausage is a beef or veal sausage, the meat will be explicitly named. For those with other tastes, sausages are not limited to meat. The menus of an upscale charcuterie-traiteur, a delicatessen, may offer saucisses végétarienne, vegetarian sausages, and or saucisses de poisson, fish sausages, among their other options.
 
   
A French butcher's shop selling boudin blanc. 
Without any other details, they will be pork sausages.
Photograph courtesy of banlon1964.
     
Saucisses and Saucissons
          
Many guide books and travel dictionaries translate saucisse as a small sausage that will require cooking,  and a saucisson as a larger cured, smoked or dried salami type sausage. Unfortunately, French sausages do not read travel dictionaries, and today many sausages do not keep to the traditional rules.
    
Saucisses on French Menus
    
Historically all saucisses did require cooking before serving; however, that is no longer always the case.  A menu listing today may note the serving of a saucisse sèche, which will be a small salami type sausage or as part of a cooked dish; while another menu listing may offer a saucisse sèche as part of a plate of cold cuts. Today, saucisse mostly relates to size rather than how the sausage is made and sold.  Unfortunately, most French restaurants expect all their diners to know by name the type and taste of the sausages on their menus. You, as the visitor, should ask for more information and you may enjoy your light-lunch even more.
  
Aligot d'Auvergne Saucisse et Salade de Printemps  The Auvergne aligot mashed potato and cheese dish served with an Auvergne sausage and a  fresh spring salad. The traditional Auvergne sausage is a small salami type sausage, weighing about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) each and made with pork, pork fat and beef.   When this sausage is served with aligot it is usually grilled; otherwise, it may be eaten uncooked like any salami type sausage.

     
Sausage served with mashed potatoes; saucisse et puree.
Photograph courtesy of Le Yeti.
    
Saucisse de Foie
  
Saucisse de Foie – A liver sausage; in the USA that’s liverwurst, and it is mostly pork liver.   Liver sausages, whatever the type of meat used cannot be 100% liver, for that you do not need a sausage; at most a liver sausage may be 75% liver, most are less than 50%, the rest will be meat and or vegetables, eggs, and  herbs, etc.  Slices of a saucisse de foie may be part of a plate of cold cuts.
  
Saucisse de Francfort

Saucisse de Francfort  The French Frankfurter; now the venerable hot dog.  The Frankfurter, a traditional German sausage was brought to the USA by German immigrants. The Frankfurter n its new home became the best selling sausage in the world as the hot dog.  In Germany and in France most frankfurters are still the original pork sausages though 100% beef and veal frankfurters are also available.
   
Saucisse de Francfort avec Pommes Frites. – A Frankfurter served with French Fries, chips.
   
      
A saucisse de Francfort served with baked potatoes and broccoli.
Photograph courtesy of Arjen Stilklik .
       
Saucisse aux Choux
  
Saucisse aux Choux -  A pork and cabbage sausage.  Different recipes for these traditional sausages are made in various parts of France and will be on sale and on menus nearly everywhere.
   
  
Saucisse aux choux in the deli.
Photograph courtesy of fred_v.
     
Saucisse de Morteau AOC/AOP.
  
Saucisse de Morteau AOC/AOP also called the Jésus de Morteau. The Saucisse de Morteau is a pork salami type sausage that may be eaten without any additional cooking; nevertheless, all over France restaurants will offer dishes with this sausage cooked again. The sausages’ second name, Jésus de Morteau, originated when it was considered an essential part of local Christmas dinners. The Saucisse de Morteau AOC/AOP is one of only two sausages to bear these famous initials. For more about the French AOC/AOP grading on this sausage and other foods and wines click here.

Dos de Sandre en Écaille de Saucisse de Morteau, Carottes Colorées Glacées, Jus de Savagnin. A thick cut of pike-perch, or zander, the fish, covered with shavings of the Morteau sausage and served with glazed colored carrots and a sauce made from the Savagnin wine. This is a sweet wine and will be in restaurant kitchens all over France.   The Savagnin wine comes from the Jura, a département in the région of Franche-Comté; part of the same région as the département of Doubs where the town of Morteau is situated. 
    
    
Slices of saucisse de Morteau served on a lentil stew.
Lentils are one of the most highly rated vegetables in France and will be served in salads, soups, stews and more.
Photograph courtesy of Stijn Nieuwendijk.
     
Saucisse de Montbéliard
      
Saucisse de Montbéliard – This smoked pork sausage comes from the area around the city of  Montbéliard in the département of Doubs in the Franche-Comté, the area is also home to the Saucisse de Morteau just 70 km (44 miles)away.  Despite being close, these two sausages have different methods of production and very different tastes. The Saucisse de Montbéliard is spiced with caraway or cumin, nutmeg, garlic and white wine. 
      
Saucisse de Strasbourg
     
Saucisse de Strasbourg – The Strasbourg sausage;  a larger, and usually very much longer, version of the Frankfurter sausage.  Strasbourg, the town, is the home of the European Parliament and the prefecture, the capital of the Alsace. The locals are as proud of their sausage as they are of their town's political importance so do not call this sausage a hot dog, even if it looks like one; the locals can get quite upset. The locals also claim that their sausages are much better than Frankfurters.  Locally, in the Alsace, the name for this sausage is knackis; use the local name carefully as is can also mean convicts.
    
Saucisse de Toulouse
  
Saucisse de Toulouse. – A beef, pork, and pork liver sausage, prepared with red wine, garlic, and other herbs. The Saucisse de Toulouse is considered an essential ingredient in many cassoulet recipes. Cassoulets are traditional, slowly cooked stews from the region of Languedoc-Roussillon.
     
The Saucisse de Toulouse.
The large ring of sausages in the background is the saucisse de Toulouse.
Photograph courtesy of noodlepie.
   
Saucissonson on French Menus
   
Saucissons are mostly smoked, cured and or air-dried large salami-type sausages, and they may be called a saucisson sec or sèche, a dry or dried sausage. As with all salami type sausage, there are tens, if not hundreds of recipes all of them cured or smoked in one of the traditional forms.  Then, to confuse us, a butcher’s shop or supermarket may also have a  saucissons frais on sale, a fresh saucisson, and that will indicate a large uncooked sausage.  Smoked, cured or air-dried saucissons may be sliced and eaten cold.  On restaurant menus, saucissons may be part of a plate or cold cuts and or served fried or grilled as part of another menu listing.
     
Saucisson de Lyon
  
Saucisson à la Lyonnaise or Saucisson de Lyon A salami type sausage made in and around the city of Lyon.  This is roughly cut pork based sausage with less fat than similar sausages; it is flavored with herbs and hung until air-cured. It may be served hot or cold
  
      
Sliced Saucisson de Lyons.
   
Saucisson Chaud Sauce au Vin Rouge et Champignons -  A cooked salami type sausage served with a red wine and mushroom sauce.
   
Assiette de Saucisson, Jambon Cru et Pâté - A plate of cold cuts with slices of a salami type sausage, cured ham and pate.
  

    
 Saucissons Seche on sale.
Photograph courtesy of John Kroll.
      
France, like all other countries, has many local names, as well as national names, for particular sausages:
  
    
A Charcuterie.
Photograph courtesy of Olivier Pasco.


Popular  French sausages
with names, that do not include the words saucisse or saucisson.
   
Andouilles
    
Andouilles; firm, spicy, fatty, cold-smoked sausage made mostly of pork tripe. Some North American visitors to France have told me that French Andouilles may be compared to American chitterlings, but with a lighter taste.  On my own visits to the USA, I have never had the opportunity to taste chitterlings, and so I am just passing on the information; those who see chitterlings on the menu at home may check this out.  

Despite the above be careful when using the word andouille in France as an andouille may also be used to mean an “idiot” in French slang. Use the word andouille incorrectly, and the server may drop those sausages in your lap!  Andouilles will at a later date have their own post, and they are not to be confused with andouillettes

Andouillettes
   
Andouillettes; at their very early stages are similar to andouilles and made mostly with pork tripe; however there they begin to differ.  Andouillets are probably France’s most beloved or hated sausage and very strong tasting sausage, I have a post dedicated to them.  
  
Boudins Blanc and Boudins Noir.
  
Boudin; the name most often used for an uncooked sausage. When the name reads boudin blanc, white sausages, then they will usually mostly be pork sausages. Boudins de veau are veal sausages,
   

  
 Boudin blanc with mashed potatoes and braised lettuce 
Photograph courtesy of pussnboots
       
Boudins noir; the French version of the UK and Irish black puddings, a pig’s blood sausage.  For more boudins blanc and boudins noir click here.
   

   
Boudin noir with mashed potatoes served over fried apple slices,
A classic French serving of this sausage,
Photograph courtesy of L.Richarz.
  
Cervelas  

Cervelas - A traditional sausage, originally made with a mixture of pork and pig’s brains. Cervelas sausage had and still has many traditional regional recipes. However, most cervelas sausages have seen a number of changes in the ingredients and most have removed the pig’s brains. Not that there was anything wrong with them!  Despite that, pig’s brains are no longer politically correct while veal and lamb’s brains are…go figure?


    Cervelas de Lyon – This Lyonnaise sausage is a variation of the traditional cervelas sausage though today it is pork meat only. This is a tasty, spicy and garlicky sausage. My informants have advised me that today the only brains used in manufacturing this sausage are in the marketing department at the factory.
  
Chipolata 
 
Chipolata or Chipolata -  Thin, relatively small pork sausages. Chipolatas are made with smoked pork flavored with sage, thyme and sometimes basil or rosemary; fresh peppers or pepper are optional, every manufacturer has their own recipe.  

Diot
   
Diot; a traditional sausage from the area of Savoie, Savoy, in the Rhône-Alpes.
Some diots will be made with fresh pork and others with smoked pork and others with pork and cabbage. Nearly all will show their Italian connection by including maize flour, polenta, in their recipe. They will need their own post.
    
   
Homemade sausages on sale.
Photograph courtesy of zigazou76.
    
Saucisson d’Ail
     
Saucisson d’Ail; lightly garlic-flavored pork sausage. When you buy one of these sausages in a charcuterie-traiteur, a delicatessen,  ask for a taste; there are many types of these sausages with many differences in  taste and texture
    
Saucissons d'Arles and saucissons d'âne
   
Saucissons d'Arles; a famous pork and donkey meat sausage from the town of Arles.  Sausages made with pork and donkey meat are traditional, and popular, in many parts of France.  For a picnic in the country, you may have decided to buy a salami type sausage to accompany a bottle of cold white wine with a local cheese and a fresh baguette.  When stopping at the local supermarket or charcuterie do not be surprised to see a Saucissons d'Arles, with similar sausages called a saucissons d'âne, among the choices. France has far better and better-supervised animal husbandry laws that most Western countries. Donkeys raised on farms are grown for the meat industry and inspected and treated like any other farm animal. In Europe, donkey milk is also supplied to hospitals where children who cannot digest their mother’s milk or cow’s milk but can digest lactose, can accept this alternative.   The city of Arles is also famous for its association with Van Gogh who painted there for a year, and also for the best preserved Roman amphitheater in Western Europe.  Arles is on the edge of the Camargue in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône in the région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. For more about the Camargue click here.
    
   
Saucisson d'Arles ready to be matched with a bottle of Vouvray.
Photograph courtesy of cafemama.
     
Saucisson de Cheval
They eat horses, don't they?
  
Saucisson de Cheval – A horse-meat salami-style sausage. Horse-meat is still popular in France, as well as quite a number of other European countries.  Horse meat is cheaper, leaner and sweeter than beef and has 50% fewer calories per 100 grams than beef as well as 30% fewer calories than chicken. Bistros and other restaurants may also have a horse-meat steak on the menu.
   
In the USA horses are no longer raised for their meat; horses are raised for racing and other sports or as pets.  During their short lives, the horses in the USA  receive uncontrolled amounts of antibiotics, growth hormones, and other substances that can pass through the food chain to humans. To prevent these drugs entering the food chain, the US closed all its horse abattoirs. Horses no longer suited for their original purpose are exported to abattoirs in Canada and Mexico.   This has already severely affected the wild horses of the USA as the cost of keeping them free and controlled has no economic value.
  
Commercially, French horsemeat is well controlled with every single horse identified. French horse farmers raise their horses for meat and are under government controlled inspection. Therein lies the difference, French horses used for racing or for pets cannot enter the food chain along with farmed horses.
  
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Bryan G, Newman
   
Behind the French Menu
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