Andouillettes for Idiots
People seem to have a love/hate thing with Andouillettes. Me? I love them. I’ve been eating them for years, both in England and in France. It was inevitable that one day I’d have a go at making them. During the recent trip to Lyon I had what I would argue was the best Andouillette ever, at Cafe Comptoir Abel. Their Andouillette Bercy was succulent, with layers of flavour, and just the perfect degree of bite. It also had a variety of textures. The challenge was on!
If you Google (other search engines are available) Andouillette, you get two types of posts. You either get recipes to cook Andouillettes (not to make them), or you get a hell of a lot of people (mostly Americans, and I know the majority doesn’t really get the offal thing) decrying them and claiming that they taste of shit. Now, I’m sure that someone, somewhere, might have an Andouillette that tastes of shit, but I’ve never had one, ever, that remotely tastes or smells of shit.
People claim they can taste the shit from the rectums in the sausage. Odd that, because rectum isn’t an ingredient for Andouillettes. However, because some folks believe it is, they taste it. They tell others, and they taste it too. It’s like Chinese Whispers – well, Chinese Shitpipes I suppose.
It’s odd that if they eat a typical pork sausage, they don’t taste shit, but the casing is the same as the stuff as is in Andouillettes. When they eat a hot dog, or a burger, or a pie they don’t taste shit, even though rectums are actually ground up to fill the meat quota for such products.
So, enough talk about shit. I’ll hear no more of it.
The lack of formulations for Andouillette drove me to improvise, as did the availability of certain ingredients. Now, if you’re a rabid Frenchie with a certificate from the Institute of Andouillettes, don’t bother telling me I’m wrong. I know I’m wrong. However, if I can make something with the taste and texure of what I’d happily accept as an Andouillette, that’ll do me. In my eyes (at least), I’ll be right.
The ones I’d eaten at Abel certainly had some pork meat content; well, I think they had. There was also some undercurrent of bacon in there. I’d also read somewhere (I forget where) that the chitterling element should be poached in milk prior to stuffing.
So, I started off with 500g of pig’s stomach, 500g of pig’s large intestine and 500g of pig’s uterus. I popped them into a large saucepan, added milk till they were covered, and then chucked in an onion studded with cloves. This was simmered for around 30 minutes.
Once cooked, I drained the innards and minced them on a very coarse plate along with 500g of pork shoulder and 200g of lardons from my home-made smoked maple syrup bacon. When mincing innards, they do splatter a bit, so cover the mincer outlet with your hand. I didn’t, and have a sheen of uterus up the walls. Oh well.
Once minced, I added two heaped teaspoons of Quatre Epices – a spice mix for which there as many variations as there are claims of authenticity! I use around six parts black pepper to one part each of cloves, ginger and nutmeg. I also chucked in two generous pinches of coarse salt. Once mixed in, the whole lot went into the fridge for 24 hours to allow the spices to infuse.
The next day the mixture had firmed up significantly, so I chucked in a coffee cup of rough red wine. After another mix I stuffed it into hog casings. Typically, Andouillettes would go into something larger, but I’d only made a small amount as a trial, and it seemed simpler to use smaller casings.
Once stuffed, the sausages went back into the fridge to rest for another 24 hours. After all, they seemed knackered and I thought it best to give them some time off. Plus, I wanted to make some Smoked Porter!
So, what are they like? The spicing is delicate, which will allow any sauce to add its magic without having to be too powerful so it can fight the spice. It could take more, but to me the taste of the sausage shouldn’t be too spiced.
The texture is very good, with enough bite without being chewy, but also not so soft it feels like a ground product. You know there’s innards in there!
The taste? Well, it has the balance and depth of pigness that the Andouillette at Comptoir Abel had. In short, it’s bloody delicious.
Mrs IG doesn’t do Andouillettes. However, she ate these, and liked them. In fact, she wanted more!
And do they taste of shit?
What do you think?