On a windy Friday in February, I travelled to the Folger Shakespeare Library with brilliant Penn State Abington students who have been transcribing the Carlyon manuscript all year as part of my “What’s in a recipe?” research project. (PSU wrote a great story about our trip here.) I also asked the wonderful Folger librarians and staff to display a range of recipe books for my students to look at. We were all excited to see Mrs. Carlyon’s book of medicines, but I was particularly excited to meet Mary Baumfylde’s manuscript recipe book in person for the first time.
I’d already transcribed a lot of the book, made this bisket recipe, and chosen a few more recipes to test this spring. Despite having carefully read the description of the manuscript, it’s small size surprised me. Seeing things in person is always best.
Of course, tasting recipes is always best, too. This time, I decided to try Baumfylde’s recipe for sassages (or sausages). I was intrigued that this recipe provided instructions for both cased and uncased sausages. It’s also one of the rare recipes that comes with a specific date: 24 July 1702. Baumfylde’s sassages are delightfully flavored with sage, mace, cloves, and black pepper.
The 24 of july } 1702
To Make sassages
Take the lean of a legg of porke
& mince it Very small with 4 pound of beef
suet & a good handfull of sage finely
minced this done take Clous mace and
peper of Each a good quantity & as much
salt as you shall think fitt to season the
meat with 9 or 10 eggs mix all these
together very well then put your meat in
to a stone morter & beat it very well till
you cant perseve the suet from the meat
you may put the meate into to skins or rowl
them up which you please & soe fry them if you
put them into skins parr boyle them a very little
The original recipe makes A LOT of sausages. With a whole leg of pork and four pounds of beef suet, it’s a mighty big batch of seasoned meat. Working from the idea that a leg of pork is between 10-14 pounds, I made 1/10 the original recipe and still had loads of sausage mix to eat. I started with a pound of Stryker Farm ground pork and leftover beef suet from making these mince pies. The ground pork likely has a higher fat content than the lean meat called for in the original recipe. If you don’t have beef suet to hand, you can absolutely use bacon or lard in its place and adjust the amount to your taste.
(makes more than a dozen small sausage patties)
1 lb ground pork
6.4 oz (1 1/2 c) beef suet (either in pellet form or pulverized in a food processor)
sage, one small handful chopped (about 1 T chopped)
1/4 t cloves, pre-ground or ground in a mortar and pestle
1/4 t mace
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
1/2 t salt
Mix all ingredients well in a big bowl.
When you’re ready to cook the sausage, heat a cast-iron or heavy frying pan over a high heat. Add sausage patties and cook for at least five minutes until brown on the outside and cooked through. I did not need to add butter or oil for frying because of the fat content of the sausages themselves. Flip or rotate the sausages so that all sides brown evenly.
Rest a minute before eating.
My British spouse, Joseph, loved these sausages. They reminded him of classic British pork sausages and other dishes like pork pie that are flavored with mace and clove. My parents thought they were delicious, too. But, alas, they weren’t my favorite. I think something about the mace, cloves, and beef fat tricked my tastebuds and made me anticipate sweetness, not savory flavors.
That said, they were a big hit. I bet they’d be good encased, too.
5 thoughts on “To Make sassages”
I would encourage you to remake this recipe using finely cut pork leg and the traditional techniques. I think you’d find the effort would produce a much different sausage. The texture of 18th century sausages was much different than today’s.
Most supermarket ground pork is produced from the shoulder. The fat content is 25 to 35%. Adding the beef kidney fat brings the overall fat content to 46 to 54%. Pork leg has about one-third the fat of the shoulder. This would yield an overall fat content of about 35%, which would make a significant difference in moisture content of the finished sausage.
The kidney fat has a different structure and water content than the shoulder fat, and that is partially where the technique makes a difference in the final result. Pounding the hand-cut meat in a mortar would produce a denser texture than grinding the meat in a meat grinder. The texture will be finer, and probably denser. If you don’t have a large enough mortar, a similar result can be achieved with a meat pounder on a board. You want to crush the fibrous nature of the meat, not just cut it.
Slow browning/cooking of the sausages is important so the egg is able to perform its job of moisture retention. If it gets too hot, it will release moisture rather than retain it.
Thank you for sharing these thoughts, Peter! I will absolutely keep them in mind when I remake the recipe.
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