First off, I wanted thank you all for the really sweet and supportive comments I’ve received over the past couple of weeks. I’m getting down to the wire (the bar exam is on the 26th and 27th) and I’ll soon be back to posting and commenting with regularity.
In the meantime, I have a thank-you gift: my latest Charcutepalooza creation – mortadella.
Mortadella, for those of you not familiar with it, is an emulsified sausage native to northern Italy. What, bologna, you ask? Well…sort of, but awesomer – mortadella is from Bologna, but it’s fatter and more flavorful than the stuff from Oscar Meyer, and is packed with fun things like pistachios or (occasionally) olives.
I was a weird kid and hated cold cuts (this caused no end of problems for my mom when it came to packing lunch); however, I would go nuts for mortadella. Whenever we made trips to Federal Hill (Providence’s Little Italy), we’d pick up salumi at a store called Tony’s Colonial; I loved the panettones and sausages hanging from the ceiling, and the cases full of cheeses and olives. Though I wouldn’t touch a regular smoked turkey sandwich, I adored the soppressata and mortadella we got there: I guess I was destined from an early age to be a sucker for finely-cured meats.
I was really excited to try mortadella for this month’s challenge because of my history with the forcemeat. Mortadella and I, however, were not fated to have a smooth ride: this month, I had my first serious Charcutepalooza mishap. The culprit: beef bung.
I’m not squeamish, but I was really not fond of this type of sausage casing from the moment I started working with it. Technically, bung is called a caecum; it’s a “blind stomach” situated in the middle of the lengthy bovine digestive system. In actuality, in smell, shape, and texture, bung is reminiscent of a giant condom used by an elephant with serious crotch rot. Seriously, bung mings.
I managed to stuff my stinky casing without mishap, however, and I was counting on a few hours of poaching to take care of the odor…when my bung gave up on me. I’d poked it in a number of spots to relieve pressure – not enough, apparently, because it flat out split down the middle, popping my emulsified sausage stuffing out into the poaching water. Thankfully, this happened at the end of the poaching process; I was able to fish my cooked sausage filling out and store it, bung-less and swaddled in plastic wrap.
Don’t worry, though, I’ll be back to bung: I’ve got a hankering to make capicola, and guess what the requisite casing is? Yep, you got it…
Anyway, because of the Charcutepalooza Ruhls, this will be yet another no-recipe post (sorry, guys!)…so let’s bring on the photos!
I really wanted to try mortadella this month too but could not get past the whole “bung” issue. I went with weisswurst anyway and was still hating the regular casings. When I am over being over casings, mortadella will be on my list to try. Great post and good luck for the next few weeks!!
“A giant condom used by an elephant with serious crotch rot”? Best phrase ever. Love all your photos, and your mortadella looks great!
Mmmm… Mortadella. I think my dad must have made a million mortadella sandwiches when I was in elementary school – aside from dry-cured salami, that was basically the only cold cut I’d touch with a ten-foot pole. (Seems like we’re cut from very similar cloth, no?)
BTW, bonus points for actually using bung. Your post just confirms my suspicious that bung would be a hundred times worse than regular casings, which already squick me out plenty… no matter how much I love mortadella, I don’t think I can bring myself to make my own if it means dealing with bung. Ick ick ick.
This: ‘In actuality, in smell, shape, and texture, bung is reminiscent of a giant condom used by an elephant with serious crotch rot.’
…is going to stick with me ALL day. Holy disgusting.
I can’t believe something so bleh-tastic (and seriously, who thought to call it ‘bung?’) can make such a hot little sausage. You are the meat queen. I bow to your awesomeness.
Yeah, I’ve wanted to try my hand at making this sort of stuff, but it just seems like such a daunting task – and the bung… don’t think I could get past that =)
Yours definitely looks amazing!
I have bad memories of cold meats in my sandwich for lunch. Yah, hated them too. I’m ok with them now because I don’t have to eat them everyday. Love mortadella. You made them yourself. Wow! I don’t think I can handle bung. Just the name alone repels me. I’ll stop at the cling film stage.
Urk! The bung sure does look like it mings. I love your description! The finished product looks wonderful tho. Great step-by-step photos. Good luck with the study and the exams.
Fantastic! I detest bologna but love mortadella, so wonderful you made your own!
OMG! Your is the best description of the bung yet! The mortadella looks gorgeous! I must admit I’m afraid of the bung. LOL!
Wow – so authentic! Truly a wonderful post – great job.
Hell yeah! Rock on with your bad self, girl. This is amazing!
Hilarious! Thanks so much for playing along. And best of luck with your bar exams!
This looks fantastic!! 🙂
*ding* *ding* You win for the best description of bung, ever. I couldn’t do it, I give you props for being able to do it.
Wow! Great post! I love Mortadella, but I don’t know if I have the patience to make it from scratch. 🙂
You are so adventurous this is amazing. When I was in Italy I was shocked by how huge some mortadellas were..
Looks like great texture. Interesting to learn that mortadella has dried milk in it! I too have loved cured meats from a young age – they are so good.
I OD’d on Mortadella when I was younger…seriously…I would eat it every day! 🙂 Can’t believe you made it from scratch…that is AWESOME!
wow, I’m seriously impressed that you put together a mortadella with the bar exam so close. when I took the bar, I don’t think I accomplished anything for a good two months before the exam date. good luck!!
Wow! I am in awe. Bung is really beyond me…
I love mortadella, but didn’t realize the casing was so gross, lol. Does it get peeled off at the end or do you eat the casing with it? Either way, I still love the way it tastes! Glad you got try it at home, bung or not 🙂
AMAZING!!!!! I can’t belive that you made it yourself..
I grow up watching my family make homemade sausages and other thinks that we could smoke, but this is soo cool!I really love this idea, and it looks fantastic!!!
Best of luck with your upcoming exams. Never tried mortadella but sounds very interesting. The pistachios are so unique and bet they add a little extra yumminess.
Just popping in to Congratulate you on Top 9!!! ♥
I am so, so impressed! Fabulous mortadella! Good luck on your exams~
I am SO impressed that you made your own mortadella. It is one of my favorite deli meats. Congrats on the Top 9 today – well deserved. Good luck on your upcoming exams – I am sure you will pass with flying colors.
Wow, this is so interesting – I’ve never made meat of any variety before – there is so much to learn from this post… I love the addition of pistachio and wonder if I could put olive directly in the meat as well…. looks great.
WOW! I’ve probably told you many times already, but you are one amazing cook. I really enjoy reading how you made this. I won’t be able to do it on my own…but I learn so much from your blog!!! Good luck with your bar exam. You will do great as well as cooking your delicious food!
Haha! I know it’s childish, but I simply have to laugh every time I hear, see or say the word bung.
Anyhow, I’m making mortadella now (a little late), but the whole process has been studded with roadblocks and mishaps for me. Hopefully everything will turn out fine in the end, just like yours.
Next time do a couple of bung hits first. It makes it easier.
Once I discovered that mortadella involved an even bigger casing than sausages, I knew I would never be able to get over the bung experience — and that was without ever knowing about the smell or seeing your priceless description of it (that I can now never un-see, my eyes!) Well done! And even more impressive that you did this while studying for the bar — good luck! I would say it’s not that bad…but at least it’s only a couple of days. Then the interminable wait for results… But in the meantime, you have charcuterie.
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