The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.52
SPRING2017

Christian Isobel Johnstone’s “Smoked Scotch sausages, to keep & eat cold.”

An unusual sausage for several reasons, it is made with beef instead of pork, reflecting the old Scottish aversion to pigs; smoked, when smoked sausages otherwise are absent from the British Isles; and “to keep,” that is, preserved instead of fresh, another anomaly within Britain, and in effect preserved twice, because the recipe calls for corned beef. You will need a smoker but a little stovetop one will do for this amount of sausage. May be doubled or otherwise modified at constant proportion.


Beef_Old_Gloucester.jpg

  • 1 lb coarsely ground corned beef (‘salt’ beef in the UK)
  • ½ lb shredded suet (Atora is ideal but see the Notes)
  • about ½ cup minced shallot
  • lots of black pepper
  • about a heaped teaspoon dry mustard (like Colman’s; optional)
  • sausage casings (see the Notes)

  1. Combine everything but the casings.
  2. Make the sausages by stuffing the casings with the filling. You have a number of options here, ranging from a funnel of appropriate size to the sausage attachment to a countertop KitchenAid mixer. The length of each sausage is up to you; simply twist the casing to for links at the appropriate interval.
  3. Smoke the links according to the instructions and for the approximate duration specified by the instructions for your smoker. They vary so much that we cannot predict the process.
  4. Rig a means to hang the sausages on some kid of pole in the refrigerator to dry for a couple of days.
  5. When you want to serve the sausages, simmer them until hot, let them cool and there you go, eccentric and appealing Scots sausages that your guests will not have encountered before.

 

Notes:

-The recipe is from A Cook and Housewife’s Manual by Meg Dods, actually written by the redoubtable Christian Isobel Johnstone and first published in Edinburgh during 1826. Mrs. Johnstone did not provide any proportions. The ratio of meat to fat in her other sausage recipes ranges from our 2:1 all the way to 1:1.

-You could substitute fresh for corned beef. In that case add a couple of generous teaspoons pickling salt to the mix.

-Mrs. Johnstone advises her reader to “hang the sausage in the chimney to dry.”

-She also adds a note to the recipe, in typically enigmatic fashion, that “[r]eal Bologna sausages labour under the imputation of being made from asses [sic] flesh. It is said the celebrated Fetter-Lane sausages owed their flavour and fame to sweet basil.” The sausages from Fetter Lane must have been eaten soon after they were made if the basil was fresh.