scrambled eggs and armenian sausage (sujuk)

Sitting across the table from me was a Turkish ex-patriot, a mature suit and tie Princeton professor type we'd sat down to share lunch conversation with at the faculty dining facility. Turks and Armenians have a lot in common cuisine-wise, so armed with the general background handed to me by my in-laws and Turkish friends to start small talk, I somehow opened the exchange with Turkish food as the icebreaker. What emerged was a wonderful little anecdote about his memories of the homemade sausage his mom used to make full of all these spices that seemed unusual to me at the time (where's the meat?)—memories that had finally inspired him to action. The details did not stay with me but somehow he had tracked down an old used sausage machine for next to nothing and then scored a whole bunch of sausage casings from some ethnic butcher who wasn't really selling them to the public but finally decided he could make an exception for this one time. With no recipe to work with and no past sausage making experience, he inventively recreated something that compared favorably with what he remembered from the old country. I had no idea what he was so lovingly describing at the time, but found out a few months later.

John Wheeler, who had been my sophomore modern physics teacher some three decades earlier had kindly invited me to lunch that day during my trip up from Philly to ask him about some obscure bits of Princeton mathematical history. Mentor of Richard Feynman, friend of Einstein, and a grand old man of relativity physics responsible for coining the term "black hole", he'd brought the Italian physicist Remo Ruffini to Princeton who in turn later granted me part time ex-patriot status in Italy. An offer I couldn't refuse. (Actually I just fell into it after dumb luck threw us together.) Johnny, as Remo called him (but I could never get beyond "Professor Wheeler"), had recognized the familiar face as we looked around for a table at the informal Prospect dining room. Apparently he knew this engineering economics guy from another university connection other than lunch. And so I got the sausage story.

I'd known my in-laws did sausage once in a great while but skeptically paid little attention. After all, sausage is like the garbage can of the meat world—the Rodney Dangerfield of my food product line-up. So they made this Armenian sausage and insisted that we take some home. Ani said it was good with scrambled eggs. Wouldn't hurt to try. We're not really big egg breakfast people. Occasionally on weekends. Omelettes more often than scrambled eggs. So...

Our first pass is from our most reliable Middle Eastern cookbook by Linda Chirinian which the in-laws say is a good start.

ingredients

4 lb lean ground sirloin
2 lb (not too lean) ground chuck
2/3 c cumin
5 1/2 T allspice
3 1/2 t garlic powder
3 1/2 T crushed fresh garlic
2 T cayenne
2 1/2 T sweet paprika
2 1/2 T salt

instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Wear plastic gloves and mix all ingredients very thoroughly by hand. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.
  2. Cut 6 rectangles of double-thick cheesecloth, each 5x15 inces. Sew on 3 sides and set aside.
  3. Heat skillet. Remove meat from fridge and pinch off a walnut sized piece. Add to heated skillet, cook over medium heat, taste, and add more seasoning if needed.
  4. Slip on plastic gloves. (New ones.) Divide meat into 6-equal portions. Divide each portion into 8 smaller portions and place each set in a cheesecloth bag so that the meat mixture comes to within 3 inches of the top of the bag. Tie the bags with long pieces of string and flatten the bags with a rolling pin to smooth out the filling.
  5. Hang the bags high (hang 'em high?) with the string in a well ventilated cool place 7 to 10 days until meat is dried. Remove cheesecake casings. Wrap in foil, and refrigerate 2 days or place in freezer.
  6. When ready to serve, heat a nonstick skillet. Thinly slice sujuk and cook briefly on both sides. Serve hot with wedges of warm pita bread.

notes

  1. Okay, now for the modifications.
  2. in progress...
  3. And once these suckers are ready, use two of these finger sized sausages for 3 or 4 egg scrambled eggs for two people. Cut them up in small pieces and put them into the scrambled eggs as you scramble them. These are really spicy so you don't need anything else in the eggs.
screggss.htm: 16-aug-2006 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]