Who knew The Odyssey could make you hungry? “As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted…” wrote Homer, proving that blood sausage has been around for literally ages. If you’re going to kill an animal, why waste all that protein-and-iron-rich blood? We’ve been on a blood sausage kick around here lately. Yesterday, while walking past German butcher and charcutier Schaller and Weber, we heard the siren call of the purplish sausage again.
The shop was established in 1937, when that part of the Upper East Side was filled with German and Eastern European businesses. Now, the community has nearly disappeared, although Schaller and Weber and the Hungarian Meat Market still hang on.
Schaller and Weber still cure all their own sausages, ham, and other cold cuts. The blood sausage, or blutwurst, is now sold in an artificial casing rather than a natural one, to lengthen its shelf life. (Not enough people are buying blutwurst!) Plunk it in some boiling water and simmer until it’s heated through. Then cut a hole in one end of the casing and squeeze out the filling. It looks almost like soil, dark and crumbly, shot through with tiny bits of pork fat. Try it on rye toast.
But before you leave Schaller and Weber, buy some smoked pork:
Lachsschiken is made from a pork loin wrapped in a layer of fat for juiciness, and smoked. The result is delicate-grained and moist, almost like tuna sashimi in texture. There are also several kinds of ham, including one in the Westphalian style, from the north of Germany. It’s smoked over a hardwood fire.