Monday, February 9, 2015

Today’s lesson: Soujouk



Question: What is soujouk? 

Answer: It’s an Armenian sausage that is dried, cured, and usually made out of ground beef or lamb. (Some countries make a similar version using horsemeat, but I won’t be addressing that recipe!)
Soujouk is heavily seasoned with garlic and spices as a way to flavor and preserve the meat. The process takes several days to cure, and is best made during the winter months when the curing can take place in a cool to cold setting. 

Don’t try making traditional soujouk in the summer. The heat would spoil the meat before it had a chance to cure.

I am foregoing the traditional soujouk recipe for one that uses chicken or turkey breast, and isn’t cured at all. So, it’s lighter, and takes a lot less time to make, but tastes just as good!

Chicken – or - Turkey Soujouk
Makes 2 (1-lb. each) logs; Each log yields about 20 pieces

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (2 whole breasts), about 2 lbs. total
 – OR –  2 lbs. ground chicken breast or turkey breast
3 to 4 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. Salt and ½ tsp. pepper, or to taste
2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground fenugreek, optional
1 tsp. each of Cumin and paprika may be added, if desired
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

1. If using whole chicken breasts, rinse pieces in cold water; pat dry.

2. (A) Grind chicken breasts together with garlic using a meat grinder with a fine cutting disc, or in a food processor using a metal “S” blade. Note: If using the food processor, cut the chicken into small, manageable pieces first. Place chicken mixture in a mixing bowl.
     (B) If using already ground chicken or turkey, place in mixing bowl and thoroughly blend in the minced garlic. 

Sanitation Note: Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw poultry. Be sure to sanitize the surfaces which the raw poultry may have touched.

Ground chicken with seasonings
3. To the ground chicken, add salt, pepper, allspice, fenugreek, cumin and paprika, if using, and olive oil. Gently work the ingredients into the ground chicken.

 In order to determine if the seasonings need adjustment, make a small patty and cook it (see step #6) until chicken is cooked through, then sample it. Adjust seasonings to the uncooked chicken mixture, if necessary.
Chicken sample cooked

4. Divide the chicken mixture in half. Place each half of the chicken mixture on separate large pieces of plastic wrap which have been lightly oiled, or coated with vegetable spray. Place each portion of the mixture on a piece of coated plastic wrap, and roll to create a long sausage (soujouk) shape with a diameter of about 2 inches. Make sure the rolled chicken mixture is completely covered in plastic wrap fastening the ends. Place them in the freezer for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until they are firm enough to slice.
Ground chicken divided
Chicken 'sausages' wrapped



5. Remove the 2 rolled soujouks from the freezer, unwrap, and cut into ¼-inch slices. Each one should produce 20 slices.

6. To Cook: Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken soujouk slices until they are lightly browned and cooked through. Place cooked pieces on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

 7. Cook all of the chicken soujouk slices in small batches without crowding the skillet. Be sure the pieces are cooked through to the center. 

To Serve: Soujouk makes a great accompaniment to eggs, or wrapped in lavash as a sandwich, served with crackers as a mezza, used as a topping for pizza, etc. 

8. Refrigerate or freeze any pieces for later use. Be sure to tightly wrap the cooked pieces completely before refrigerating or freezing.

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