Yesterday I have tackled a very interesting sausage making project: mortadella. I intended to get as close as possible to the original specifications for Mortadella Bologna IGP, the “proper one”.
Here are the crucial points:
- Total fat content ca. 30%, at least 15% as cubes.
- Mortadella is not an emulsified sausage. The meat is not chopped with a rotary blade but ground as finely as possible with a meat grinder. The legal maximum is 0.9 mm which is impossible to reach with standard meat grinders.
- No additional liquid is added.
- The sausage is baked in the ofen at 75 degrees to an internal temperature of 70 degrees.
On Youtube there are a number of interesting videos about mortadella production. Most are in Italian, but even without speaking the language you can learn quite a bit from them. The meat grinders they use are multi-step monsters, most producers are grinding the meat down to 0.8 mm.
On the web you can find quite a few mortadella receipes, but pretty much all of them use a meat chopper (or a food processor with rotary blade) and/or ingredients that are not compliant with the Mortadella Bologna IGP regulations. So I have tried to make my version as authentic as possible.
Interestingly enough many good mortadellas use pig tripe as an ingredient, and historically this sausage has been invented as a means to use scrap parts of meat. Unfortunately I have not found any indication of the amount needed, and the promotional videos only ever emphasisze the high quality ot the meat that is used. It obviously is avoided to mention the lowly tripe. I finally decided not to use it because I had no idea how much to use, but the amount probably is not very large.
My mortadella uses neither peppercorns nor pistachios because I don’t like “foreign bodies” in my sausage at all. There are a number of IGP mortadellas that don’t use them either, so I certainly don’t commit blasphemy here.
Ingredients per kg:
- 750 g pork butt or shoulder
- 100 + 150 g raw pork fat
- 17 g nitrite curing salt 0,5%, 3 g table salt (this relates to 20 g curing salt per kg meat without fat cubes)
- 2 g pepper
- 0,5 g mace
- 0,5 g ground coriander
- 1/2 garlic clove
The sausage can be filled into a pig bladder, or other natural or synthetic casings. You should pick a casing whose diameter is as large as possible.
Special equipment needed:
- Meat grinder with 4 mm und 2 mm discs
- Sausage stuffer
- Meat thermometer
If required, soak the casing in water. Cut the meat and 100 grams of the fat into cubes suitable for your meat grinder and put them into the freezer untl they have just started to freeze over. If possible also freeze the head of your meat grinder.
Dice the remaining fat into cubes of roughly 1 cm size, they can well be irregular to make the cross section of the sausage look more interesting. Bring some water to a boil in a pot and shortly blanch the fat cubes, then drain and cool them.
Preheat the oven to 75 degrees, this needs to be checked with a thermomoeter because many ovens are poorly calibrated, especially in the lower temperature range.
Now grind the meat with the coarse grain disc and immediatlely put it into the freezer again. Clean the meat grinder and also freeze it again. Then grind the meat with the fine grain disc.
Add the fat cubes and the spices and thoroughly knead for a few minutes, preferrably using a food processor.
Because of the low water and fat content the resulting paste is very compact and stable. It needs to be very viscous and sticky.
Now you can fill the paste into your casing. I worked with 2 kg of meat and used a 25 to 30 cm pig bladder. I managed to fill it with 1700 g. The rest was filled into ramequins.
I am not very experienced in tying sausage and I did not succeed in properly closing the bladder with a thread because it kept sliding off. Traditionally mortadella is cooked bound and hanging. Because of the low temperature of 75 degrees the sausage will a almost not deform at all, so I simply folded back the top. This also allowed me to insert the meat thermoter without damage to the casing for checking the temperature.
Everything was refrigerated overnight, then the moment of cutting came. First the “Mortadella Loaf:”
There was a little bit of rendered lard and jelly in the ramequins but if did look quite alright. And now the proper mortadella:
Overall the mortadella turned out quite fine. In my attempt I had used an entire clove of garlic per kg of meat, but this turned out to be too much, the garlic was a bit too dominant. I have adapted the recipe accordingly. The colour is a bit on the dark side but still alright. It should be possible to use a bit less curing salt. The 2 mm grain is noticeable when compared to an original mortadella, but the sausage is compact and keeping its shape nicely, also the fat cubes don’t fall out right away.