A Palette for His Palate


When I lived the Bay Area, I made lots of sausage. It’s basically autumn all year there, and the average garage provides all the cool, airy environment you could want for hanging sausages. I also knew a guy--a retired railroad chef, as deaf as a post--who would smoke anything you wanted for about $1 a day.

Then I moved back to L.A. and was reminded what real summer is like. The weather has cut down on my sausage-making severely, and I now limit it to months with an R in them, not including September.

I’ve made lamb-and-pine nut sausages and pretty impressive Mexican chorizos, but mostly I’ve made French-style sausages, everything from big salami-like saucissons to a delicate rabbit boudin blanc and even French-style blood sausage. (I have a word of advice for anybody who wants to make blood sausage: Wear old clothes.)


Sausage is a blank canvas that invites experimentation. My favorite invention was this basic pork sausage flavored with ham and pistachios.


Quatre-epices (four spices) is used in France for stews, terrines and game; it’s very different from Chinese five-spice powder. Ground pepper, grated nutmeg, ground cloves and ground cinnamon normally go into quatre-epices. Nigella (black cumin) is a common substitute in France. To make your own four spices, combine 3/4 teaspoon pepper plus a generous pinch each of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

1 pound pork shoulder

10 ounces back fat

3/4 tablespoon salt

3/4 teaspoon quatre-epices (four spices)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced ham

2 tablespoons pistachios

Grind pork and back fat together. Add salt, quatre-epices, garlic, ham and pistachios and mix thoroughly. Stuff into sausage casings. Cook as desired.

7 to 8 sausages. Each of 8 sausages:

318 calories; 926 mg sodium; 52 mg cholesterol; 29 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 0.07 gram fiber.