During the lifespan of this here Filipino Food Blog, I've made some food that I never thought I'd have the skill, chops, or know-how, to make. I'm not saying any of this food has been perfect, I'm an inexperienced hack after all, but I've at least been able to avoid self-induced food poisoning that could have been caused by my overwhelming lack of said skill, chops, or know-how. But it turns out that with a little research, and a lot of patience, seemingly difficult dishes can be prepared with relative ease.
Take for instance, the Filipino pork sausage known as Longanisa (also spelled longanissa, longganisa, longannisa, and everything in between). Almost 2 years ago, I made my own homemade Longanisa from scratch. This initial foray into sausage making, while daunting, resulted in some dang tasty pork links. Overall, it was a satisfying enough experience that I had to pat myself on the back a la Barry Horowitz.
However, after a visit to the Philippines last year and sampling the awesomely fatty Ilocano sausages of Batac, and after Josh Bousel of Serious Eats adapted my longanisa recipe with fantastic results, I realized that there was still much room for improvement in my original recipe (let's call that one Homemade Longanisa v1.0, or HL1).
So after some tinkering and fine-tuning here at the Burnt Lumpia Worldwide Headquarters, I've finally devised a better sausage--a tastier, fattier sausage more evocative of the Longanisa I enjoyed in the Northern Philippines last summer. Ah yes, by streamlining a few ingredients while simultaneously adding more pork fat(!), I was able to evolve my old recipe into a new and improved version: Homemade Longanisa v2.0!
And with this New and Improved (Now with 50% MORE Fat!) version of Longanisa, I am happy to add it to my personal list of Porky Pinoy Pavorites...
- Dish #1: Spicy Sizzling Sisig
- Dish #2: Pork Belly Adobo
- Dish #3: Paksiw na Lechon
- Dish #4: Lechon Kawali/Bagnet/Chicharon
- Dish #5: Longanisa
Longanisa! Part Deux.
For those of you keeping score at home, my Homemade Longanisa v1.0 was comprised of pork butt/shoulder (same thing), kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, cider vinegar, and beer. While all of these ingredients combined to form deliciousness within a hog casing, I soon learned that a better product could be had by making the following changes:
- Use Ilocano sea salt instead of kosher salt
- Use Sukang Iloco instead of cider vinegar
- Lose the beer altogether--it only waters down the flavor of the vinegar
- Add more pork fat!!!
- Mix everything by hand, do not mix ingredients with stand mixer.
At first glance, the above adjustments may seem minor--changing salt for salt and vinegar for vinegar in particular. But the use of ingredients from the region of inspiration (Ilocos, fool! What?!!) was key as the native sea salt provides a more delicate and minerally flavor compared to kosher salt, and the dark sugar cane vinegar of Ilocos lends a certain sourness that can't be found in cider vinegar. Yes, I know, not everyone has access to Ilocano sea salt, but any good sea salt will do--and kosher still works fine as well. And if you still can't find any Sukang Iloco at the Asian market, any other Filipino vinegars will also do.
Another point I want to make is that the only liquid needed in Longanisa is vinegar--don't be adding any wine, or beer, or water as those things only dilute the flavor of the vinegar and ultimately, the flavor of the sausage.
Also, adding more pork fat to my sausage mix was essential to improving my recipe. In the original HL1, I did not add any extra pork fat because I thought that a good cut of pork butt was fatty enough to keep the overall sausage moist and succulent--but a good Longanisa is unapologetically fatty as gobs of pig grease should be prevalent throughout each link (mmmm). Extra pork fat should be relatively easy to come by as you can usually ask your butcher for pork backfat/fatback, or you can even order fatback online.
For me however, my extra lard came in the form of luscious fat from a pig's jowl (double mmmm).
Pork Jowl: A lil' bit of lean, and a whole lot of fat
Some of you may remember that when I made Sisig some months back, I trimmed a whole lot of fat from a pork jowl and threw that reserved fat into the freezer for a later use. Well, that later use was for Longanisa. Lucky for me, sausage makers happen to prize jowl fat over backfat because jowl fat is creamier (triple mmmm).
And finally, after grinding the meat, fat, and other ingredients through the large die of a meat grinder, mix all the ingredients by hand rather than using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. I went the stand mixer route on HL1, but as I learned from a comment Josh left on my previous longanisa post, mixing the sausage by hand provides a better texture.
Gobs of fat, it's in there.
It took a couple years and some experimenting, but I think I've finally settled on a Longanisa recipe with which I'm very satisfied and happy. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the end-all-be-all Longanisa recipe, but for me it's mother-effing close.
Feel free to experiment with Filipino sausage yourself, using my current version as a starting point. Use different amounts of spices, use different Filipino vinegars, use Sukang Sili for a super-spicy sausage, throw some sugar in for a sweeter sausage. Whatever you do, don't be intimidated, as sausage-making isn't as difficult as it seems. And if you start to feel chest pains from all the fat you've been shoveling into your maw, just relax, have a beer, and eat another Longanisa--you only live once.
Homemade Longanisa v2.0
Makes 15-20 sausage links
(For a more in-depth read on sausage making, see my original post on Homemade Longanisa)
2.5 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into small cubes
½ pound pork jowl fat or backfat, cut into small cubes
2 Tablespoons good quality sea salt (about 0.90 oz.)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 large cloves of garlic, finely diced
3/4 cup chilled Sukang Iloco, or other Filipino vinegar
Hog casings, soaked overnight in water and then rinsed well inside and out.
Combine the cubed pork, fat, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, grind the chilled pork mixture through the large die of a meat grinder. Add the chilled vinegar to the ground meat and mix with your hands until just combined.
Form a small patty from the sausage mixture and fry the patty in a bit of oil until cooked throughout. Taste the cooked patty for seasoning. Add additional seasoning to sausage mixture if needed. Cover and return the sausage mixture to the refrigerator and chill for one hour.
Fit the hog casings over a sausage stuffing tube then tie the loose end of the hog casing with kitchen twine. Stuff the casing with all of the meat mixture. Tie off the open ends of the casing with more kitchen twine. Using the width of your palm, measure off individual links by pinching the sausage, twisting links, and then tying the links with kitchen twine.
Store fresh sausage in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months, until ready to cook.