I remember watching Rick Stein's French Odyssey years ago and he visited Toulouse, home of the fine sausage. For some reason I'd always thought of it as being something heavily seasoned, something that would linger on the breath, but he spoke of a lightly cured sausage with nothing more than pepper seasoning it in some instances, other makers adding a splash of wine or some nutmeg. The more I read about the classic sausages of the world the more I find that are just the same, a couple of simple seasonings that let the pork shine through.
Back to Rick Stein not too long after the series I ended up in Padstein, being treated to a culinary feast of a weekend by my girlfriend, the finest 30th birthday present a food-obsessed man could dream of: a day on his seafood cooking course, meals in his seafood restaurant and his bistro not to mention breakfasts in his cafe (and sleeping in his B&B above - obviously) and a little RS fish and chips too. When the menu at the bistro displayed the 'Toulouse Sausage with Tomato, Red Onion and Caper Salad' I'd seen on the aforementioned show I had to order it, my mind drifting back to the huge coil of sausage he'd lopped a few inches off and placed on the sweet and tangy salad. The dainty three slices of tomato with a few thin slices of sausage scattered on top couldn't have been further from the hearty meal I'd seen on TV in quantity but - for the three mouthfuls I got - the flavour was very good.
As you may have noticed I've dragged the sausage maker out the cupboard recently and so decided to get some Toulouse made. They're a sausage I've made before and the home made (and real ones) are nothing like the supermarket attempts, simple and meaty with a bacon taste coming from the addition of cure or some bacon along with the pork. This contrasts starkly with the overly complex smoked bacon, garlic, red wine and rosemary I've seen in some of our stores which also suffer from the addition of filler. Not a bad thing per se but the Toulouse, like most its continental cousins, is filler free and firm.
Whilst I enjoyed Rick Stein's recipe the tomatoes over here are bad enough at the best of times, let alone in October. As the nights draw in and the temperature drops do you really want something so light too? Personally I like to start moving towards some heartier dishes and this sausage and potato salad fits the bill nicely, the sharpness of the vinegar dressing acting as a foil to the fattiness of the sausages.
Obviously this would work with any sausage, but I think a firm continental one is better for slicing than the softer rusk containing English bangers, standing up better to the bite of the waxy potato.
Toulouse Sausage and Potato Salad
280gr Toulouse - or other firm - sausage, 3-4 sausages
450gr new potatoes, I used Anya
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB cider vinegar
1/2 ts sugar
1/2 small red onion
Small handful flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
Simmer the potatoes till done and chop into 3cm pieces.
Whilst these are cooking simmer the sausages for 10 minutes until cooked through (this sets the shape nicely) then brush with oil and brown under the grill. Chop into 3cm bits.
Make the dressing from the oil, vinegar and sugar, seasoning with S&P.
Whilst everything is warm toss the potato, sausage, onion, parsley and dressing together.
1.1kg pork shoulder, 25%-30% fat
1ts black peppercrons, ground
1gr cure #1
50ml of white wine
Mince the pork once through the biggest plate.
Mix the seasonings into the white wine then distibute through the meat.
Stuff, twisting into slightly larger than British banger links then leave in the fridge overnight to dry and allow the cure to do its thing.
Alternatively you can leave the sausage in one large ring and cut off sections as needed.
To cook either fry, grill, poach or poach and grill, as above.