While it’s difficult to make a Portuguese sausage that tastes like commercial products — those are darned good — it’s not as challenging to create a Portuguese sausage that is both interesting and delicious.
This one, based on ideas from several cookbooks and online sources, makes use of Portuguese spice: a five- or six-spice mixture you toast and mix at home.
Portuguese spice is at the center of my recipe for Pica Portuguese-Style Sausage ("pica" means hot or spicy).
Pica Portuguese-style Sausage
4 pounds well-marbled boneless pork butt with surface fat
15 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
12 small, hot Hawaiian chili peppers, minced
4 to 6 tablespoons Portuguese spice (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons coriander
1/2 cup paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
Cut pork into cubes. Grind coarsely; if you don’t have a grinder, mince the meat (a food processor may be used but tends to overprocess the meat, mashing instead of mincing it).
In large bowl, combine meat with remaining ingredients and mix well with heavy spoon. Heat a little vegetable oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. Form a small patty from pork mixture and fry until cooked through. Taste and correct spices. (You might have to do this a couple of times.)
Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend and mellow. Shape into patties and refrigerate up to one week or freeze, with squares of kitchen parchment between patties. Or fill pork casings, smoke and refrigerate up to one week or freeze to preserve.
Store Portuguese sausage, tightly covered, in cool, dry place or in freezer. Makes about eight 8- to 10-inch links.
» Portuguese spice recipe (big batch): 1 bottle stick cinnamon, 1 bottle whole cloves, 1 bottle whole peppercorns, handful fresh or dried bay leaves, handful whole star anise. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread spices and bay leaves in rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until crisp and aromatic, about 20 minutes. Finely grind in spice grinder, blender or with a heavy, Thai-style stone mortar and pestle.
» Small-batch recipe: 4 sticks cinnamon, 2 tablespoons whole cloves, 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns, 4 bay leaves, 4 star anise. Toast and grind as above.
» "Cheater" Portuguese spice: 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 3 tablespoons ground cloves, 3 tablespoons ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon ground bay leaf, 1 tablespoon ground star anise. Toast and grind as above.
Approximate nutritional information, per 3 ounces of raw sausage patty: 250 calories, 21 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 0 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 13 g protein
Approximate nutritional information, per tablespoon spice mixture: 10 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein