19 July, 2012

Salsicca Barese: A Sausage Mystery.


Barese sausage recipe.

What a summer for weather huh? A few Fridays ago we decided to roll over to West Chicago because Bonne Femme had a Groupon for the town splash pad, but then this storm boiled up. To wait out the storm we rerouted to one of our favorite family pastimes, wandering around grocery stores. We stopped at Caputo's in Naperville.

00 Flour

I picked up some 00 flour for our "Friday Night Pizza Party,"

Caputo Barese

And Bonne Femme picked-out some Barese sausage from the meat case.

Barese sausage? As Doug famously said to Kalon on this season's Bachelorette, "Whoa, Check yourself."

I had thought this mythical beast only existed at the finest little Italian grocery on Grand Ave, Bari Foods. And then to pile surprise upon surprise, this delicious link from Caputo's has lamb in it. My belly is happy but my brain is flummoxed, what is a Barese sausage?

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According to Wikipedia Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari, which is in Apulia(Puglia). It's a large port city on the Adriatic. The town seems to have a rich but not quite tourist worthy history, but no mention of any particular sausage, zoom out to the provence and in the hills you'll see lots of vegetables, wheat and sheep, but no ricettas for salsiccia Barese.

Back at the library, my requested sausage book by Aidells shows up and I spot my first glimpse of a "Barese-style sausage" recipe. Aidells states this sausage is popular in the Italian Neighborhoods of New Orleans. Who knew that they had Italians in the Big Easy? According to New Orleans Online "The majority of Italian immigrants in New Orleans are from Sicily and started to arrive in large numbers in the 1880s..." Sicilians, make a note of that. Beyond the typical Italian sausage seasonings, Aidells' recipe calls for parsley and cheese.

Parsley and cheese? As Joey Lawrence famously exclaimed on the TV sitcom Blosssom, "Whoa!"

I wrote a Parsley and Cheese recipe in 2007. It was an ode to a sausage I chomped while living in Brooklyn. In pork shops across the borough they sold large coils of the sausage stuffed in lamb casings, and skewered to be grilled.

Barese on the grill

Was this the missing link? Were the parsley & cheese sausages from back east Barese? In Brooklyn I don't remember the purveyors calling them Barese, and I never asked what part of Italy they where from....

I want to fuse this link. I find another Barese sausage recipe on the website Sonoma Mountain Sausage. It calls for parsley and cheese too! And there's lamb in it like the Caputo's version. The recipe also calls for 'conserva,' not a typical sausage ingredient, and there's no reference to the recipe source. I need corroboration.

At the library I grab every book I can find on Bari, the region, Italian food, and sausage. Here's what I learn:

Salsicca refers to any fresh raw sausage ment for cooking.

Salume (Salumi pl.)refers to all meat products salted and cured (Think Charcuterie)

Salame (Salami, insaccati) is a type of Salume (Think Saucisson)

A Sulumiere sells salumi at a salumeria. (say that three times fast)

But still no Barese sausage.

In "A Mediterranean Feast," Clifford A Wright devotes ten pages to sausages and reports a recipe with cheese as coming from Sicily. So the parsley & cheese sausage comes from Sicily? That would tie in nicely with the New Orleans reference. I think I'm getting somewhere but no closer to Bari.

But wait, on his website (not in the book) Wright gives a recipe for Zambitta a beef and lamb sausage with cheese and parsley from Apulia! Is it the Barese sausage? I don't know, the ingredient list looks ok, it calls for hog casings, but whatever, and you coil it. But I can't find a mention of Zambitta anywhere other than Wright's website.

Meanwhile back on Grand Ave, in Chicago, I remember the day in 1998 that I said bye to Frank and Ralph as I left for NYC. I asked them where was a I going to find a place like theirs in the Big Apple? "Huh?" was the reply I got.

Years before I had been introduced to the Barese sausage. As a young lad I was amazed by this exotic item, never before had I seen a thin sausage sold by the length. How is diferent from the regular Italian sausage, I had asked. "Well there's parsley in it and no fennel." Huh. Both the Bari and Caputo versions of the Barese have parsley, are stuffed into lamb casings and have NO cheese. I really like the lamb in the Caputo sausage.

Hmmmm...I work out a few batches at home.

Barese sausage test batch 1

Barese sausage test batches 2 and 3

I liked the second batch best, here's the recipe:

Pork and Lamb Sausage (Salsicca Barese-esque)

Per 1000g Meat
70% Pork shoulder cubed
30% Lamb shoulder cubed

16g Salt

8g Black pepper ground
7g Fennel seed ground
7g Paprika
4g Coriander ground

20g Milk powder (optional but nice binder)

40g Fresh parsley chopped fine
10g Fresh garlic mince

100 ml white wine

lamb casings.


Combine and toss cubed meats with salt, refrigerate 2 hours to overnight if possible.

Grind meats through course plate. Place the grindings in a mixing bowl and beat in the spices and optional milk powder using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer or a big wooden spoon. Stir in the herbs and wine. Continue to beat until the mixture comes together, about a minute.

Stuff in lamb casings, coil and skewer. Ask for lamb casings at any meat counter that makes sausage, I usually ask for "a few arm lengths." Don't worry is they want to charge $13/lb, twenty feet of casing will be around $3.

So the mystery continues, but it's tasty sausage.


Further reading:

Bruce Aidell's Complete Sausage Book, by Aidells and Kelly

Delizia!: The epic history of the Italians and their food, by Dickie

The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, by Riley

A Mediterranean feast : the story of the birth of the celebrated cuisines of the Mediterranean, from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs : with more than 500 recipes, by Wright


Andrew said...

Hmm, looks very good, I'll have to give it a try. I like the lamb addition.

Cross Current said...

The original lamb sausage from the Bari area, especially like that made in the small town of Bitetto, can still be found in several Italian butcher shops in Brooklyn, NY and also in the Bronx, NY.

Grilling chervalatta, as it's called (though many places on the internet from the US chervalatta is pork, they're wrong)is a summer staple in my house and always has been from before I was born well over 50 years ago. In the winter, this sausage is typically prepared in a wonderful wine sause.

mac said...

Dear CCGS:

Thanks for stopping by and sharing, I have never heard of it called chervalatta, very interesting. I really like it as a lamb sausage, and I want to make it again as soon as I get of this cleanse my wife put me on.

That's a nice fish ya got there. A buddy of mine runs a fly fishing service in Colorado. Been such a long time since I have fly fished. Soon!


Unknown said...

You know a lot about sausages, don’t you? =) Your homemade sausage is very interesting! Thanks for all of the information here and for the recipe. Hope you’ll continue sharing your knowledge here for meat lovers like me!

Dione Nye

Clifford A. Wright said...

I just came across this post and would gladly have commented earlier. First, I'm glad you found A Mediterranean Feast useful. Let me shed some more light on this sausage. I was just looking for a Google image of the sausage and discover that I am the only one on the internet who mentions this sausage! How strange. Here's some background: Zampitte, zampina, or zambitta are Barese dialect words that means "leg" because the sausage was made large and flattened so it looked like a leg. According to Prof. Luigi Sada's "La cucina pugliese" published in 1994 the sausage was invented by the Tarantino agricultural writer Giambattista Gagliardo in the 19th century in the commune of Turi in the province of Bari. It is made in one long coil, not tied off and grilled with olive wood. The recipe is "secret" says Sada, but apparently was given to him by a parson who lived in Turi.

Unknown said...

If lyou like Barese sausage stop in at Johnny G's Butcher shop in Bloomingdale. They make it fresh every day. The guys there are very nice and helpful with answering any questions you have and will offer suggestions for preparation and cooking. Its nice to have such a great butcher shop so close to home!