I wanted to make something different for this challenge, something none of the other charcutepaloozers would make. And Dustin, a kabanosy enthusiast, had been craving the thin, dry sausage hanging in every legit Polish deli in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They are flavored strongly with black pepper, smoked until evocative of an old crypt-keeper’s finger, but remain moist and pleasant thanks to the generous chunks of fat interspersed throughout the coarsely ground pork meat. Since there are no Polish delis that I know of in Austin, kabanosy is impossible to find here.
A recipe was difficult to find, too, but I settled on this one from a book by Stanley Marianski. I ground the pork shoulder and belly, and flavored it with lots of black pepper, caraway, nutmeg, and a little sodium nitrate to guard against botulism during the smoking and drying process. Then I stuffed it into thin sheep casings.
Unfortunately the kabanosy was a bit of a bust. I worked myself up reading about the dangers of botulism or “sausage disease,” fearing we would poison ourselves. I distinctly remember my 9th grade biology teacher describing botulism, traumatizing me with stories of paralysis, blindness, and death. She said you could get it from dented cans at the supermarket, and made it seem quite commonplace. I’ve never gotten over it.
So as a precaution, we smoked the kabanosy a little longer than we should have. We tried them a week later, after they had sufficiently dried out. The flavor was there, but the texture was not. Oversmoking made all the difference, and the meat felt like sawdust in my mouth. Oh well, lesson learned.
I redeemed myself with some cured pork belly. I cured it with the same mix I use for bacon and then wrapped it in Saran wrap and foil, protecting the delicate fat from light. Then I placed it under a heavy can in my fridge for about two weeks, and then wrapped it in cheese cloth to hang at room temperature for two weeks more. It is milder than pancetta, but so much easier to make since wrestling with pork belly isn’t necessary. I use the cured belly for Bucatini all’Amatriciana, a pizza topping, or snack on it raw. Cured pork belly will be in my fridge at all times from now on.
And the kabanosy won’t be total loss. It will be featured in my final Charcutepalooza challenge along with a few other exciting items.