The Briny, Fatty Joys of Life
The salty, quivering oysters and the hot sausages work sensationally, both in flavor and texture. — Nigel Slater
I readily admit that I grew up a bit of an oyster snob. I never liked anything served with raw oysters other than possibly lemon, and even that was generally frowned upon. I was taught by my mother to savor the purity and simplicity and taste the ocean in all its unadorned briny splendor.
Then one day I was reading an old French text that mentioned the Bordeaux habit of eating fatty pork sausages with salty oysters, washed down with a big glass of white Bordeaux and I had to give it a go.
Lisa, Beau and I drove up to the nearest oyster beds along the Hood Canal in Washington, bought a few dozen blue pool oysters from Hama Hama and a pack of store-bought sausages and went to town. The combination of rich, juicy sausages with briny oysters and crisp, fruity wine was a dining revelation.
I wondered why I hadn’t tried this before?
20 THINGS YOU MUST EAT BEFORE YOU DIE
I began searching the internet for more on this amazing combination and came across an article entitled Twenty Things You Must Eat Before You Die in the Guardian, in which several prominent British foodies described their favorite things to eat. A quick survey of the article and I concluded that Nigel Slater and I were gastronomic twins connected at the stomach: his favorite combination was also hot sausages and raw oysters.
THE ANNUAL POTLATCH OYSTER AND SAUSAGE FESTIVAL
For our inaugural oyster and sausage party, we invited several of our close friends to join us at Potlatch State Park. We shucked 17 dozen oysters, cooked 20 feet of homemade sausages, grilled tons of chicken, a few loaves of homemade white bread, and drank a few dozen bottles of white wine.
There is something magical and symmetrical about eating oysters next to where they are harvested. I get similar sensations drinking great Burgundies in the vineyards where the grapes grow, or by eating sweet corn in a cornfield. You can taste the terroir both in the air and simultaneously in your glass, and it just tastes better.
WORTH THE HEADACHE
We taught everyone the method of eating sausages and oysters. Bite a whole sausage and let the fat coat your mouth, slurp an oyster then take a big sip of a white Bordeaux. Rinse and repeat. When you follow the three steps, eating 17 dozen oysters in the process, you will tend to get a buzz. Lisa and friend Deanna came up with the new Oyster Fest slogan ‘Worth the headache’.
POTLATCH STATE PARK, WASHINGTON
Potlatch is a great park to bring your family to. You can harvest your own oysters, build a fire, play games or just sit and watch the world pass by slowly. It has a nostalgic, peaceful old-timey feel to it. My son Beaumont and I love to harvest wild sea beans that grow along the shore of the Hood Canal at Potlatch. They make a fantastic salad when mixed with julienned apples and toasted hazelnuts in a light balsamic vinaigrette.
I am hereby starting a new tradition to which all of you are invited to partake: Every year, come join us at Potlatch State Park, a 57-acre state park located on Hood Canal near the town of Potlatch, for an incredible oyster and sausage party.
Cost of admission: bring a dish, a bottle and help shuck a few oysters. Smiles are important.
There are several artisan sausages you can buy that would work well, but try making your own. I started making my own because most commercial sausages do not have enough fat or are ground too finely; plus I like to flavor it exactly how I want. Sausage making is both easy and extremely satisfying, and lots of fun for the whole family to partake in.
Try making your own sausages. Share the process and results with us at #PistouAndPastis!
Fatty Pork Sausages
A coarse sausage born to be eaten with raw oysters.
- 2.5 pounds pork shoulder
- 1.5 pounds of pork belly
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo Pepper or any other chili pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 cloves garlic mashed
- 1 pinch pink salt
- 2 strands pork casing
- Cut pork and fat into large chunks that will fit into your grinder.
- Mix pork with all the ingredients (except casing) and grind one time through the large hole plate of your grinder.
- Mix ground meat in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment till well blended.
- Set up sausage stuffer attachment on mixer. Rinse casing with cold water and pull casing over attachment, leaving a few inches hanging over.
- Start feeding meat into the stuffer and over medium speed slowly fill the sausages with ground meat till plump. I find having a sheet pan or mixing bowl to catch the strand of sausages helpful.
- Twist off 4 to 6-inch sausage sized pieces without breaking casing, and tie at each end. Prick with a sharp needle or fork, and let sit in the refrigerator for several days. The resting period allows the meat flavors to marry together.
- Cook over low heat till brown and crispy on both sides.
- Take a bite of a hot sausage, slurp an oyster, sip a white Bordeaux and repeat.
Pink salt is available online or at specialty sausage companies. I usually go to a butcher shop and look pathetic and borrow some. You can also leave it out without affecting the flavor, your sausage will not be as rosy.
Sausage casings are available at some grocery stores. Call ahead to make your store carries them.
There are many great videos on youtube to show the process of stuffing sausages. I recommend consulting one if you are a visual learner like me.