Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Saucisson en brioche (Sausage baked in a brioche dough)

A sausage roll (or pigs in a blanket, toad in the hole, sausage in a nightgown, hotdogs, Hot Dog on a Stick, Pogo, corndog, French fry-coated hot dog, or bangers and mash) by any other name would taste as sweet, but the French sure have a way with words! Saucisson en brioche sounds much more delicious!

This dish comes from the Rhône-Alpes region of France where Lyon is the capital, and its sausages have always been famous.

map from Wikipedia

The first part of this recipe is the sausage. I gathered all the ingredients I needed — even the sausage casing. I’ve never made homemade sausages before and the combination of ground meat and intestinal lining from same animal set my stomach a little off. Once it was sealed up in the refrigerator ready to cure, I was able to move onto the more interesting part of the recipe: the brioche.

The richest of all breads is pâte à brioche (BREE-ohsh), and only a small yeast step away from being a pastry. The word comes from old French, from broyer, brier, which means to knead. Made with lots of eggs and butter, it’s a rich and tender bread. Traditional brioche à tête has what looks like a head or topknot on top of a roll made using special fluted molds. You can make it as traditional bread in a loaf pan, or use it en croûte, as in this version. In this case, brioche surrounds above-mentioned homemade sausage.

Brioche is bursting with butter, making it a difficult dough to work with. It is best handled when cool. Also, since it is a soft dough, it is kneaded differently from stiff bread doughs. Maybe that’s why mine didn’t rise. I kept checking my dough every three hours, and it didn’t change or grow. A soft dough is worked gently, by being “gathered up into a loose ball with a pastry scraper, then picked up with the fingertips of both hands and slapped back down into the bowl.” (Le Cordon Bleu At Home)

The second time I made this, I adapted the recipe for brioche from Cookwise by Shirley O. Corriher. I had no problems with this recipe, except that I had to add extra flour since my dough was too wet. It turned out buttery, rich, and tasty.

Another tricky part about this recipe is making the sausage stick to the brioche since it has a tendency to pull away. The author of Cookwise suggests coating the sausage with egg-flour layers to glue it securely to the dough to prevent it from pulling away as it rises.

Now, given that I’d made the sausages several days ahead, and given that the expiry date on the ground meat was close, and the fact that my first attempt at making brioche failed, and the schedules of a family life, and other such excuses, I didn’t trust that the sausages were viable without risk of food poisoning. So, after all this labour, I took some pictures, took a small bite, and decided to not risk anyone else’s health and quickly disposed of my fancy, schmancy Saucisson en brioche.

Recipe for sausage adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

1½ pounds pork, coarsely ground (about 25 percent fat such as Boston Butt)
2½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons black truffle, in julienne slivers (or dried porcini, in ¼-inch pieces)
sausage casing

3 days or up to a week in advance: Mix all the sausage ingredients in a bowl. Tie a knot on one end of the sausage casing, and using a piping bag and tip, pipe the sausage ingredients into the casing. Tie a knot at the other end. Twist the casing in two places to form sausages. Set the sausage in the refrigerator to cure.

Recipe for brioche adapted from Cookwise

I made this dough the same day that I used it.

1 tablespoon and 3 tablespoons sugar (¼ cup total)
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110°F)
4 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
5 large egg yolks, beaten
10 ounces (2½ sticks or 20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon oil for bowl

Proof the yeast by dissolving 1 tablespoon sugar and the yeast in warm water. Let stand 2 minutes until foam appears. This indicates that the yeast is ready to go. Add the rest of the sugar, the flour, salt, eggs, and yolks. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until very elastic. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. After a few minutes more kneading, add water if dough is too dry or flour if dough is too wet. Then work the butter into the dough.

Oil a bowl. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Refrigerate until well chilled or overnight if desired.

Finishing the Saucisson en brioche adapted from Cookwise

2 large egg yolks, beaten
flour for coating
1 large egg, beaten

Divide the brioche dough in half. Use one half for a regular brioche loaf, if desired. Roll one half into a rectangle about 8 inches wide and close to the length of the pan.

Brush the sausages with egg yolks, then dredge in flour. Lay the floured sausages in the middle of the rectangle. Brush the dough with egg yolk. Roll the dough around the sausage, putting the seam under. Tuck the ends under. Decorate with remaining dough, if desired. Glaze with the beaten egg. If the dough was at room temperature, let rise in a warm room for about 30 minutes. If the dough was cold, let rise for about an hour.

While the dough is rising (about 30 minutes before baking), preheat oven to 450°F. About 5 minutes before baking, turn the oven down to 375°F and place a shallow pan with ½ inch of boiling water on the lower shelf of the oven.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or longer. Start checking at around 40 minutes; it should look dark golden brown and a bit crispy. Cool.

Tasting Notes

Better than your run-of-the-mill hotdog! Next time, I’ll skip the homemade sausage bit, and buy my favorite ones from the butcher to use in the hole. The brioche on its own was tasty too. It toasted up nicely, though a bit crumbly. Here's a picture of my "plain 'ol brioche".

. . . . . . . . .

Running total: $142.42 + $5.01 (Brioche) + $13.06 (Saucisson) = $160.49

Butter used so far: 2 pounds, 15.5 tablespoons