On page #149 of Ruhlman & Polycn’s indispensable “Charcuterie; the craft of salting, smoking & curing” is a recipe so calorically and financially irresponsible that it’s like a neon sign saying “you must try me”. Foie Gras and braised sweetbread sausage.
With foie gras prices hovering around $100/lb in Philadelphia and the recipe calling for exactly that it’s a sausage that the home foodie is not likely to experiment with. The recipe is also wildly complicated compared to other sausage recipes; diced Bacon, pork back fat, powdered milk, wild mushrooms fried in bacon fat and lean beef join herbs, spices, foie gras and braised sweetbreads. It’s sort of the “great white buffalo” of sausage myth. You might know a person who’s made it, but you’re probably never going to see it.
Luckily I do know someone who’s made it. Claire and I stop into a local fromagerie every few weeks to pick up tasty cheese, cured meats, stuffed olives or foie gras mousse and usually BS for a bit with the extremely knowledgeable staff while waiting in line. We were talking sausage making one day, and one of the staff sheepishly admitted he was about to attempt the foie/sweetbread sausage, just having bought a full lobe of the fatty duck liver and sweetbreads. I would never have been so bold as to ask to try it, but I did ask him to let me know how artery cloggingly decadent it was.
Weeks passed. No mention of the sausage until earlier this week when Claire and I wandered in to pick up some cheese. The young man greeted us, then headed out of the shop, returning a few minutes later with a ziplock bag containing a single sausage. “My girlfriend and I decided to eat less meat” he said, “not give it up entirely, but cut back. So since we talked about this a while back, I’m giving you guys one of the foie/sweetbread sausages to try. Let me know how you like it”.
The link was gorgeous. Just the right size for the flavor; anything bigger would be too rich (both fiscally and flavor wise) to fully enjoy. Flecks of herbs and chunks of fat visible through the hog casing. He wrapped it up with the rest of our purchases and we headed home. I wasn’t able to cook it that night. It sat in my refrigerator another day or two before I had time to cook it; in this case poaching in a milk/vegetable stock until it reached ideal temperature and then put in an icebath to stop cooking. Watching it poach (so the watched pot wouldn’t boil) was pure food-porn. The fat from the foie gras coloring the stock a nice orange hue as it poached. Our whole kitchen smelled like duck liver and herbs… priceless.
Once I removed the sausage from the ice bath I put it in a ziplock baggie for tonight’s after work charcuterie snack and preserved the stock to use for a rice dish later this week. It would be a shame to waste all that amazing flavor once the sausage is long gone. Thanks again to our friend in the Italian Market for the hookup!