Years ago, before refrigerators were invented or even before electricity, can you imagine how people lived?
We stuff our refrigerators with lots of products and whenever we feel like cooking we just thaw something and cook it.
Back then people had hens and turkeys, rabbits and other domestic animals in their yards, which they would raise for their food. Whenever the occasion called for celebration they would slaughter a hen or a rooster and during bigger events they would slaughter a lamb for Easter or a pig for Christmas.
They would breed the pig months before and on Christmas Eve they would slaughter it to feed the family, which was not just the couple and two or three children as are families nowadays, but then they used to have 6, 8, 10 or more children and they also had the grand parents living with them.
However, even with big families of twenty persons a whole pig is still a lot of meat to consume in a few days, so without the refrigerator they had to think of ways to preserve it in order to feed the family during the winter.
One way was by curing the meat in salt or, after cooking it they would put it in earthen jars and a thick layer of lard would seal the jar air tight. Another method would be to smoke them. They would use every piece of the pig from head to tail: Sausages, Louza or called Lountza in Cyprus, pasto or siglyno, pichti (called zalatina in Cyprus) are some of them. I hope to cook or talk about all these in the future.
They made sausages using ground meat and intestines, louza (or Lountza) can be compared to prosciutto, which is pork loin cured in salt and then marinated in wine and spices and then smoked. Pasto or siglyno is smoked and cooked in red wine. It is then preserved in olive oil. They would make pichti (zalatina) using the head and feet. They would eat the meat from the head and especially the tongue and the feet were merely used to get the pectin. My mother would make zalatina often but as we did not eat meat from the head she would add some lean meat especially for us to eat and it was delicious. The head and feet would be cleaned and boiled together with vegetables, vinegar and citrus. After cooking they would remove all the meat from the head and together with the vegetables would put it in earthen pots together with the liquid, which would form into a jelly because of the pectin created from the animal and from the citrus and a thick layer of lard would form on top, thus sealing it airtight.
Trying to keep some traditions alive, I made bombari and then I got the idea of making my own sausages. Why? First and foremost I like challenging myself to see what I can make and secondly who wouldn�t like to eat some homemade sausages?
I have tried nearly all type of Greek and Cypriot sausages and not that I don�t like them all but the ones I like more are the spartan sausages, flavoured with orange peel.
I did not have a recipe nor could find one online so I called my sister-in-law, who lives in Sparta and she gave me the recipe which she, in her turn, got it from a friend of hers.
The recipe couldn�t be more vague:
pork cut into small pieces (1 used ground meat)
salt � pepper � allspice � orange peel and throumbi (I had to use my imagination). White wine and garlic (optional)
No amounts as usually in most Greek recipes coming form the villages. I didn�t even know what throumbi is and had to google search it. I found a Greek site which explained what throumbi is and gave its scientific name which is Satureia Montana, Thymbra. Searching these three words I found this in English. Reading about the herbs I decided to use thyme, marjoram, and white oregano. I asked the butcher what part of the pork would be suitable for sausages and he explained that pancetta would be the best but the sausages become too fatty, so I asked him to grind some meat with less fat. You can either use pork leg or shoulder if you want lean meat. Ask your butcher to grind the meat using the big holes and just once. The addition of garlic and wine are optional, but I preferred to use them.
This time I did not have much work to do as the intestines were already cleaned. After preparing the sausages, they should be hang for a couple of days in order to dry. The best way to dry them is to dry them at the fireplace. In the villages, they had a fireplace in the kitchen where they used to cook and dry their meat or sausage. However this is not possible to be done in an apartment, so I left them in a colander in the refrigerator for two days and then put them in the deep freezer. Before freezing them, I fried a couple to try them and they were delicious. I must say that they did not taste like the real Spartan Sausages but none the less they were very delicious.
Spartiatika Loukanika (Spartan Sausages)
Makes: 12 sausages
- 1.250 grams of ground pork
- 2 tablespoons finely cut orange peel
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon throumbi (savory)
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Intestine or sausage cases (about two metres)
- Peel a thin layer of orange peel which finely cut into small pieces. I used the rind of half an orange.
- Combine thyme, marjoram, throumbi, allspice, half the salt and peppercorns in a coffee grinder and grind.
- Pound garlic with salt in a pestle and mortar.
- Place ground meat in a big bowl and mix in the spices, garlic paste, orange peel and wine and mix well.
- Place in a smaller bowl and cover with cling film and refrigerate for a couple of hours for flavours to combine.
See how to clean and wash the sausage casings and fill the sausages in my post for Bombari.