Saucisson, a dried sausage of the salami type, is usually made with pork in France. There are dozens of different kinds of saucisson in the markets throughout the country, some smoked, some done only with pork, some made with a mixture of pork and beef, and some containing lamb meat. In Lyon, a special dried sausage used to be made years ago from a combination of donkey meat and pork.
I have made saucisson through the years, putting the meat in casings, drying the sausages out on the porch or in the refrigerator. I have made them small, long, and fat as well as skinny. When stuffing the mixture by hand into pork casings, there are often pockets of air, and the saucisson gets dark spots as it dries out.
A few years ago at a market in Provence, I saw sliced saucisson that looked like thinly sliced, very lean prosciutto, and I realized that it was done with a whole pork tenderloin. This is what I have been making since then. It is easy to make, the meat dries beautifully, and it is the leanest dried sausage one can have.
Buy the largest pork tenderloins you can find at the market, ones that weigh a pound or more. I cut about 3 inches off their tails and sauté these end pieces for dinner. The rest of the fillet should be about 2 inches in diameter and close to a foot long.
* * *
Remove any silver skin from 2 pork tenderloins, each about 1 pound, and cut 2 to 3 inches off the tails, reserving them for another use. Put 1 cup of kosher salt in a plastic storage bag (or use 1/2 cup of Morton Tender Quick Curing Salt,) which has a curing agent that keeps the meat beautifully pink. If this is unavailable, however, substitute a cup of regular kosher salt. Add 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar to the salt in the bag, and mix well. Slide the tenderloins into the bag, close tightly, and shake to coat the meat with the salt mixture. Refrigerate overnight.
After 12 hours or so, remove the tenderloins from the bag, and wipe them dry with paper towels. Rub the meat with about 1 tablespoon of cognac, and sprinkle on about 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper and 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence, dividing it between the two tenderloins.
Wrap each piece of meat in a cloth to protect it from insects, tie it with kitchen twine, and hang in an area where there is good air circulation, like a cellar with a window that can be opened, or a porch. This is best done in cooler weather, but if that is not the case, place the tenderloins in your refrigerator on a rack where the air can circulate around them.
The tenderloins will dry out in five to six weeks. I like them when they are still a little soft, not too dry. Slice very thinly, and enjoy with bread and butter and a cool glass of wine.
From Chez Jacques, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2007.
Each week, The Splendid Table brings you stories that expand your world view, inspire you to try something new and show how food brings us together. We rely on you to do this. And, when you donate, you'll become a member of The Splendid Table Co-op. It's a community of like-minded individuals who love good food, good conversation and kitchen companionship. Splendid Table Co-op members will get exclusive content each month and have special opportunities for connecting with The Splendid Table team.
Donate today for as little as $5.00 a month. Your gift only takes a few minutes and has a lasting impact on The Splendid Table and you'll be welcomed into The Splendid Table Co-op.