If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Catalonia, you’ll know their local chefs have a superpower. The ability to turn simple ingredients into a masterpiece. They rely heavily on local Mediterranean ingredients, including tomato, garlic, eggplant, fish, cheese, and olive oil.
But if there’s one ingredient that’s revered by the locals, it would have to be botifarra (butifarra), a type of pork sausage stuffed in hog casing. You can prepare it by using a traditional combination of seasoned pork and spices, but it is acceptable to use other meat with the pork such as beef.
Botifarra can be made fresh, and it is often served as an appetizer, chopped into fine slices. Its appearance is commonly ivory white on the outside; if it is allowed to dry, it turns a shade of gray. It is an appealing looking meat with a shiny, vibrant pinkish-red colored meat.
Makes: 8 sausages. Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 1 ½ lb pork belly
- 3 lb beef
- 6 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ cup red wine
- Add the pork and beef to a freezer for 30 minutes to chill then cut into pieces small enough to fit into the meat grinder.
- Grind the pork through a 3/8” plate and the beef through a larger 3/8” plate and catch the meat in a large bowl.
- Add salt, pepper, and spices to the meat and mix with hands until evenly distributed. Pour in the wine and mix until combined.
- Take a small spoon of the meat and cook in a skillet on medium heat until cooked through. Taste test and, if necessary, add more seasoning.
- Use a sausage stuffer to feed the meat into 35/38mm hog casings. Cook immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Make sure you grind the meat well enough. If you have purchased gnarly meat, you’ll probably want to run it through your grinder at least twice to ensure that you get a great texture. Don’t stuff your sausages until the meat is fine, or they will have a strange texture.
- Keep everything cold – this includes both the equipment you are using and the meat. Some people recommend freezing the grinder, but as a minimum, you should refrigerate the bowls and tools you will be using for an hour or more before you start making the sausages. This helps to keep the meat cold while you work.
- Use natural hog casings for your sausages. These are the traditional choice for link sausages, and they have a fantastic “snap” that will make your botifarra delightful to eat. They can also withstand a strong stuffing, and they are flexible and easy to use. Other casings are not ideal for botifarra.
- If you are having problems with crumbly sausages, use a bind such as C-Bind, which will help the meat to pull together and stay together. You can also salt the pork before you grind it, and this will make it more likely to stick to itself and prevent your sausages from falling apart.
- Think about your side dishes/accompaniments. You want to keep the focus on the meat, so don’t pair botifarra with heavily spiced, very salty, or other strongly-flavored side dishes that will ruin the taste of the pork. Choose plainer sides, and let the meat shine.
- If you aren’t using pork, make sure you are still choosing a high quality meat. This is key to botifarra; you cannot make a great botifarra sausage with substandard meat.
Useful facts about Botifarra
- You can add other ingredients such as rice, tripe, and truffles to botifarra to create unique versions of the original.
- Botifarra is the only traditional-style cooked sausage product you can cure by adding salt.
- Soledad, a small town on the Caribbean coast of Columbia, is best known for its love of botifarra in a dish called bollo de yuca.
- A popular Catalan dish is botifarra amb seques which incorporates the sausage with white beans. Catalan Escudella i carn d’ olla is another traditional Catalan cuisine which is a simple dish comprising boiled meat and vegetables.
- Ancient Romans used to produce botulu and lucanica sausages –many believe that botifarra is based on one of these original recipes.
You can make Botifarra into one long coil without links.
Varieties of botifarra
- Negret (aka black botifarra): blood from a pig is boiled and then added during processing to give the sausage a much darker appearance.
- Blanquet (aka white botifarra): this version is popular in Lerida, Catalan. It has no blood in it, but it contains offal used to make head cheese.
- Botifarra d’arròs: a standard botifarra which contains the addition of boiled rice.
- Botifarra d’ ou: A popular dish eaten on Fat Thursday, this sausage contains egg.
How to cook botifarra cassoulet
- 6 eggplants
- Salt and pepper
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 6 botifarras
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- ½ cup grated cheese
- Preheat oven to 390F.
- Slice the eggplants in half lengthways and place them on a lined oven tray. Drizzle with oil, season and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the casings from the botifarras and fry in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of oil. Cook until the meat is cooked through.
- Remove the eggplants from the oven once they’re cooked. Scoop out the flesh into the pan with the sausage and cook for 2 minutes. Discard the leftover skins.
- Add the butter to a saucepan and heat on medium until melted then add flour. Whisk until combined then add milk, salt, and pepper. Continue to whisk occasionally until the mixture is free of lumps and thickens.
- Pour a layer of béchamel into a suitable sized dish then add the eggplant and sausage mixture. Add the rest of the sauce and then top with cheese.
- Place your dish on the top rack of the oven and broil (grill) until the cheese turns a delicious golden brown. Serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does botifarra differ from other sausages?
A: Botifarra is different in that it contains the best pork (or other meat) that is available, and the purpose of the sausage is to celebrate that meat.
Botifarra sausages tend to have little other seasoning because the focus is on just how great the meat tastes. It may have some herbs and a little salt and pepper, but on the whole, it is eaten to enjoy the flavor of the sausage, and not any other flavorings.
Q: Do you need to start with amazing pork?
A: When you are just learning to make botifarra sausages, it often makes sense to start with cheap meat, because you are likely to make a few mistakes. As you start to master the technique, you can spend more on the meat you buy – but don’t splash out too much until you’ve got the hang of making these sausages.
Q: How many spices should I add?
A: It’s up to you, but you’ll see that the above recipe for this kind of sausage only has cinnamon, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper for seasoning, and that’s all it needs. Some people pare it back even more and depend on just one spice; this really comes down to personal preferences.
Botifarra sausages are an amazing food to try, and you can make them yourself at home with ease. You will need a meat grinder and some hog casings, but otherwise, it is surprisingly simple!