By now after reading my posts and seeing so many food photos in our adventures, you know that I am passionate about food of all kinds, from all different cultures. While in Regensburg, we decided to experience classic Bavarian cooking by taking a class on traditional sausage making. Weisswurst sausage, to be exact. The English translation is “white sausage”, and Bavarians speak of this dish with great pride.
Origins of Weisswurst
Weisswurst originated in Munich in 1857, by accident. When a young butcher ran out of the thick skins to fill sausages, he used what he had on hand, which were thin pork casings. After making the sausages, he feared that the thin skins would burst open during frying, so he first heated them in hot water. The customers loved this new variation of sausage and thus the Weisswurst became a traditional dish of the region.
Our class took place at the historic and lovely Ratskellar Restaurant. Previously the Old Town Hall in Regensburg, the building dates back to 1660. In 1910, it underwent a complete restoration and was converted into a restaurant. The interior is adorned with restored coats of arms, suits of armor, crests and paintings of past kings.
In the basement of this storied restaurant, in a hall festooned with centuries old décor, we learned how to make Weisswurst.
Already staged for us were the ingredients for our white sausage; pork, pork fat, ice, parsley, lemons and assorted spices. Our teacher just happened to be the chef of the celebrated Ratskellar and he patiently explained to us each step of the process.
He Makes it Look Easy, but…
We watched as the chef carefully measured or weighed each ingredient to ensure that the ratios were correct. Then the grinder was turned on, and we each took turns carefully dropping in ingredients. As the machine ground the meat, it generated significant heat. Therefore, at intervals, the chef took temperature measurements of the ground mixture. He explained that it was important to ensure that the filling not get too warm and he added ice to the mixture as needed.
After all the ingredients had been ground to a very fine, light brown paste, it was poured into a “casing filler”. As pressure was applied from above to the mixture, it extruded the meat out of a small tube below where a casing is attached. For Weisswurt, clean, thin, translucent pork intestines were used.
Filling these casings is a lot harder than it looks. Our filled casings often took on very odd and irregular shapes, where it was thin in some places, very fat in others, with several kinks in between. Protruding bubbles of meat even appeared in some areas, as if the sausage had hernias. Upon seeing our mis-formed examples of Weisswurst, the pride of Bavaria, the chef patiently emptied out our casings back into the cylinder and asked us to try again.
Finally when we all managed to produce some evenly filled tubes of meat, it was time for twisting the casing, thus making the sausage links. The chef demonstrated with quick agility as he picked up the meat tube at regular intervals and twisted off each link of sausage, producing perfectly uniform pieces. Our efforts, however, did not result in such uniformity, but the chef said nothing this time.
As if Eating a Tube of Toothpaste…
Then he took our sausages up to the kitchen to cook. They are cooked gently in hot water, always below boiling temperature. We were led upstairs and seated in the restaurant dining room and served beer and pretzels while we waited for the results of our labors. Finally, the chef reappeared with white tureens of Weisswurst, served in the traditional manner, simply in hot water.
He beamed with pride and anticipation to see our reactions as we tasted our creations of one of the region’s most favorite dishes. He showed us how to eat the sausages by cutting off the tip, and, after dipping the end in a sweet, tangy mustard, pushing the contents into our mouths as if it were a tube of toothpaste.
Weisswurst tastes very mild and subtle. The tangy sweetness of the mustard makes a great compliment to the gentle flavor of the sausage. The cold, local beer and pretzels are also traditionally served with the sausage. Because of the lack of spiciness of the dish, Weisswurst is often eaten as a breakfast food, most of the time consumed before noon.
And the Verdict is…
Jerry loved Weisswurst with the mustard, and washed down with the crisp beer. The rest of the class only ate one, or part of one sausage, leaving piles of sausages remaining. When asked if the sausages were to her liking, one woman in our group bluntly told the chef, “no, she didn’t like them, and doesn’t like beer at all”, requesting a Diet Coke to replace her German beer. I quickly glanced at the chef to see his reaction to such an offensive comment to Bavaria’s beloved cuisine. But if he was offended, he didn’t show it. Jerry, perhaps in an attempt to make amends for this picky American, promptly ate six sausages, washed down with several beers, with generous portions pretzels on the side.
Up next: Nuremburg, Germany!!
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