Macedonian Sausages

As my parents have related to me on many occasions, the family pig would get slaughtered just a few days before Christmas and the ritual of butchering the pig and using everything but the squeal. Chops, loins for the Christmas dinners, pigs feet, ears, tail & head would be kept outside until the Epiphany whereby those parts would be made in an aspic and a Patsa  (soup) would be made from the head.

Pork butt (from the shoulder)

Odds & ends and fat would be used to make Kavourma – a dish of preserved meat that’s marinated, slow cooked then preserved in its own fat to hold for the winter.  Ever used Crisco, buy shortenings from the supermarket? Before those products existed, animal fat was used. Nothing got wasted and although many of these labour-intensive traditions have waned over time, the ritual of sausage making still exists and our family enjoys sausages, making them, giving some way and ultimately eating them.

My parents come from towns in the region of Florina, about a 90 minute drive west of Thessaloniki. This region is colder than much of Greece in the winter yet thet still enjoy hot & dry summers like much of Greece. There are both mountains and farm-worthy valleys in this area and my parents’ area of Amynteo produces excellent red wine, sparkling rose wines with the indigenous Xinomavro grape.

Travel west to both Florina and beyond to Kastoria and one will find Macedonian (Makedonika) sausages (loukanika) in many homes and most tavernas in the area. The Macedonian sausage is a contrast to the southern sausage of Laconia, with its pronounced flavourings of savory and orange peel. Our sausage (Macedonian) is spicy with the use of Boukovo, a dried and slow-roasted hot red pepper that takes on slight smoky flavour from the wood. The Boukovo is ground into what you and I know as chilli flakes and used in cooking.

The second prominent ingredient in Macedonian sausages are leeks…an oft’ used winter ingredient throughout Europe and they seem to lift any dish that includes them. Macedonian sausages…Boukovo (chilli flakes) and leeks. The ingredients in between are seasonings and spices and up to interpretation from family to family, town to town. I’ve rounded out the flavours with garlic, paprika, dried Greek oregano, ground allspice and salt & pepper.

After the sausage filling is mixed, taste-tested before actually being made into sausage, the flavours are allowed to marry overnight and after the sausages are made, a period of air-drying occurs. The sausages would hang outside in the cool, breezy air or an airy cellar or shed. The sausage colour transforms from a grey to a warm brown colour during this drying stage, with the casings developing into a skin.

The sausages are now in their prime, ready to be cooked on a grill, over the fireplace, on your stove-top or in the oven. Have you made sausages before? These are the sausages from my family and you’ll have a taste of northern Greece if you make these.

For those that haven’t made sausages before, you’ll need a meat grinder, a sausage maker, seek out the right cuts of pork and use the correct ratio of lean meat and fat. Every good sausage contains a percentage of fat, these Macedonian sausages contain 25% fat with the remainder being made-up of the “leaner” pork (the butt) and the leeks.

Macedonian Sausages (Μακεδονικα Λουκανικα)

(recipe updated from January 2008)

15 lbs. pork butt, coarse grind
(from pork shoulder)

5lbs. pork fat, ground
5 lbs. of leeks, cleaned, chopped
and blanched
1/4 cup black pepper
1/3 cup Boukovo (red chilli flakes)
1/2 cup fine sea salt
2 Tbsp. ground allspice
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 little tubs of hog casings

  1. Mix all the above ingredients in a large Rubbermaid container and mix well with your hands.
  2. Take a handful and fry it off on your stove to taste test. Adjust seasoning. Cover and place the container with sausage filling in a cool place (our garage is as  cold as a fridge). over night to allow the ingredients to marry.
  3. The next day, soak the hog casings in warm water for 30 minutes and then rinse. Replenish the cold water and leave them in a bowl of water. Take a hog casing and place it on the nozzle where your sausage mix will come out.
  4. Place the sausage mix on the top entry point of the sausage maker and start pumping out sausages (I have an electric sausage maker). Plunge the meat down and with your other hand, ensure the sausage filling is fully filling the casing as the sausages are being formed. Twist the sausages into links of your desired size.
  5. Replenish hog casings on the nozzle of the sausage maker as they run out. Repeat until all of your sausage mix has been made into links.
  6. Hang your sausages for a 3 to 5 days (until the casings have slightly hardened to a skin) in a cool, dry place like a cellar, garage or if you have a spare fridge.
  7. Freeze the sausages in zip lock bags and take and take out and defrost for cooking as desired (grill, fry, bake). They are good for one year (beyond that you’re tempting freezer burn). Serve as a meze or main protein along with an Alpha Estate Xinomavro .

© 2010 – 2014,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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47 Comments for “Macedonian Sausages”

canarygirl

says:

Oh wow, these sound fabulous! So, these are cured sausages? Or can they be used fresh as well? Why oh WHY don’t we have a Greek community here? WAH!

Ivy

says:

These sound great. Have never tried the Macedonian sausages before and they are very different from the Spartan ones, which are my favourites, lots of orange peels in them. The Cypriot ones are marinated in red wine and corriander seeds and I remember whole peppercorns in them.

Peter M

says:

Nikki, they are not cured…just dried a bit for some firmness.

Ivy, I can stand the Spartiatika with portokali (orange) and I’ve yet to find any of them in the north. I’ve only tried Seftalia.

Elly

says:

These sound SO good, Peter. Delicious! My thea used to make homemade sausage all the time and I would beg my yiayia to take me there on a day she was :)

Bellini Valli

says:

I have made sauasage patties in the past, but making them the true way is something I will only have to dream about.

Proud Italian Cook

says:

Oh my Peter! Your killing me with all this good food!! I can’t keep up with you, you’re a cooking machine!! But seriouly, your sausage looks fantastic! I’ll have to venture over to the many Greek comunities we have here and look for that! I have made Italian sausage many times with my MIL when she was alive, all by hand, with this little funnel that I still have tucked away in my kitchen drawer, we would only buy the casings at a certain place,she was very particular about that, and of course our star ingredient was fennel.

The_J

says:

Oh God – I need a cigarette! You have in 2 consecutive blogs posted my 2 most favourite dishes in the world – saganaki and Maci sausages (how I loves the prasa!)…and I’ve just viewed them both at the same time! I simply cannot work now…

P.S. K and I also think your sausage looks fantastic :-P

Katerina

says:

OMG I can’t believe you make your own sausage, I am so impressed! I keep eyeing the sausage attachment of the kitchen aid, but being too chicken. Time to man up!

Peter M

says:

Elly, homemade sausages ares where it’s at!

Marie (Proud Italiana), I’ve had homemade Italian sausages too and it’s hard to go back to the supermarket kind.

the_j & K, I knew you gals would dig these “loukanika”…you may exhale now.

Katerina, I did use the attachment on my Krupps mixer (like a Kitchenaid) and it’s big help. I can do my own grind and make the sausage.

Employ your beau to help in making your own sausage.

Heather

says:

Sigh, I am officially on the market for the sausage-making attachment for my KitchenAid. You’ll be my undoing, Peter the Greek!! /shakes fist

Maryann

says:

Another great post with tempting food and good instructions.
I have my “rib” post up! Thanks again, Pal :)

Rosie

says:

Hi Peter, I’ve just came across your lovely blog through Valli. Gosh I am SO impressed with what I see here and homemade mouth-watering sausages that are so tempting! Very impressed indeed! Rosie :)

Anonymous

says:

It’s all about the leeks here. They just add the most amazing flavour. I have yet to find store bought sausages that can even come close to homemade Macedonian sausages. The_J, can you post my thoughts more often as I haven’t had a lot of time to as of late :)

Great job on all your dishes Peter!

K

Annemarie

says:

I’m a very big sausage connoisseur as well though I’m surprised to have never come across these. I will be hunting them down in the Greek neighborhoods very soon…

Pam

says:

Wow! I am impressed! I won’t tell you how long I sat here trying to think of a comment that didn’t sound “dirty”! It’s hard to talk about a good-looking sausage and keep it clean!

Shalimar

says:

thought the best sausages I tasted were from Larissa, well I was a young girl way back then travelling up north when the bus stopped in Larissa… but now I know there are different varieties of loukanika.
`i miss mezodopoleio very much where one can enjoy ouzo and wine with loukanika…

I used to work for organic estate managing the household and the family have their own organic pigs so I used to help in the kitchen making sausages….

Kevin

says:

My mouth is watering looking at all of those nice sausage photos. Great job on making your own!! They sound tasty.

Cakelaw

says:

It is a cold, rainy, grey day in Melbourne – when I saw these sausages, I instantly felt warmer – they look delicious!

Núria

says:

Wow Peter, I like this post! And I surely would like your macedonian butifarras (sausages). You are rigth they are good anyway! But the last picture (the recipe one) looks soooooo inviting! MMMmmmm

maybahay

says:

these sausages look perfect. cooking them over hot coals as you have in the picture must bring out the gorgeous flavours.

Pixie

says:

Peter, I’m not a huge fan of sausages but these just look so very delicious, I simply must try this!

Laurie Constantino

says:

Everything about this post is wonderful, from the pictures to the recipe. I have a couple questions: How long do you hang them? What specific flavor does the vegeta add; in other words, what could be substituted for it?

Peter, I think this is going to be your entry for the Best of 2008. I love it.

Peter M

says:

Heather, your comments are blog posts alway crack me up, that’s a good thing!

Maryann, the pleasure was mine, palsy-walsy.

Rosie, welcome and visit often!

K, nevermind work, get back here.

Annmarie, London has a good sized Greek population, you should find them there.

Kevin, they are tasty!

Cakalaw, they are good all year’round.

Nuria, I recently bought some Chorizo too!

Shalimar, Greeks make different loukanika.

Maybahay, those sausages were done in the fireplace.

Pixie, homemade sausages takes the mystery out of the “mystery meat”.

Laurie, lots of gems left for 2008!

swirlingnotions

says:

So impressive! I’ve got one question though . . . where do I find the Vegeta seasoning?

Peter M

says:

Laurie and SwirlingNotions: Vegeta looks like a chicken soup base but it also includes dried vegetables in the mix, tastes less harsh than seasoning salts.

Here in Toronto, I can find it in the international/ethnic shelves and at Slavic delis and markets.

Look for info also at http://www.vegeta.com

Randi

says:

I’ve never tried Greek sausage before! and props to you for being so bold and making a HUGE plate of them. Think sausage will stay good in the mail from toronto to philadelphia? ;)

says:

I don’t have a sausage maker or casings, I’ll have to make patties. But, I already have the Vegeta!;-) I’ll get the pork and leeks next time to the grocery store.

says:

So cool your family makes sausages! Although I’m not a huge meat eater, I have a strong appetite for loukaniko. I’ve never tried macedonian style sausage – they sounds delicious with all that leek.

says:

Very impressive, Peter. I love sausage but never considered grinding, seasoning, stuffing and hanging to get to the grilling and eating! Great job.

says:

Peter those sausages look wonderful! I think we are about due to make some more sausages – I will try to slip the Macedonian flavours in.

says:

No, we have never made sausages before! Favourite food though. I hovered over the button for a split second in my feedreader as I didn’t know whether I could bring myself to click through to your blog read this post. :) I still don’t know if I’m regretting it because both of us would just LOVE some of those sausages right now! Hmm, and it’s also over two months before we’ll be back in Greece enjoying some barbecued sausage. Let the countdown begin!

says:

Peter, I love homemade sausage! By the way, where do you get your casings? I’ve asked around here and it seems like no one carries them and farmers I’ve asked get from their wholesale suppliers.

says:

Very interesting post; these sausages sound delicious and of course the ones spiked with orange peel as well; I have been toying with the idea of buying a stand-in meat grinder to make kibbeh and lamb sausages; the attachment for my kitchenaid was worthless. In Lebanese traditions, everything you Greeks make with pork is made with lamb, including keeping the fat from the sheep tail. The best part, actually.

says:

My mouth is watering….. One can still buy duck and goose fat here to use for preserving, and confit de canard (duck preserved in fat) is a French country staple – paysan cuisine. They knew what they were doing….

says:

OMG Peter. These look good. I mean REALLY good. My thea used to make homemade sausages and I flipped over them as a kid. I would love to make my own some day.

Francine

says:

Hi Peter.

I realize this post is from a few years back but I just came upon it. I am living in Denmark and missing Toronto greatly. From my teenage years, I had a friend who’s family would make their own sausages, pickled veggies, spinach pies etc…. Living in Toronto I could easily go buy them. But here…. well ‘Medisterpølser’ is just not the same. I really want to try your recipe but the ‘unit’ is missing from the salt ingredient. ….1/2 coarse sea salt….
I would greatly appreciate knowing the amount.

All I can remember from making them, over 20 years ago, was the leeks. I remember the sausages being juicy and so delicious that my dad would ask for them as gifts. :) Babba and Ditto would make them without a recipe as I frantically scrambled to write it all down. :)

Thank you Peter for a trip down memory lane.

Kind regards.

Francine

says:

I have since found the answer. I must have originally viewed a cached copy of the recipe because now I have three versions: two from 2008, and another from 2010.
Bottom line – ½ coarse sea salt has been revised to ½ cup fine sea salt
Time to start cooking. :-)