Berbere and Wild Boar Sausage

When I talk to people about food and tell them that I enjoy cooking, they always want to know what my speciality is.  I always have to think about that and always come up with the same answer, I don't have one.  I like to think of myself as a food nomad, going where ever my taste buds lead me and never getting stuck on only one type of cuisine.  I work as a nurse and one of the best parts of my job is getting to meet and work with people from all over the world.  Food is always a good ice breaker when meeting new patients and hearing about what other people enjoy is always very interesting to me.

I work with a woman from Ethiopia and she is always bring these dishes that look incredible and smell even better.  While talking with her about the foods that she eats here and the foods that she used to eat in Ethiopoia she told me about Berbere (pronounced Ber-berry).  Berbere is a spice blend that is used on just about everything, every type of meat and vegetable you can imagine you can put this spice blend on.  After talking with her about food, the next shift we worked together she brought me a continer filled with this deep red rich looking paste.  She explained to me that this was Berbere and gave me some tips on how to use it.

The first taste of Berbere was powerful, it was a rich conglomeration of herbs and spices and garlic with a very pleasant heat.  The Berbere reminded me of harissa so I immediately started brainstorming all the ways I could use the Berbere.  The first thing I tried it with was eggs, I made and omelet and mixed the paste right into the eggs, It was fantastic.  Tezalu, the woman who gave me the Berbere, had told me that I should mix it with oil and saute veggies in it so I tried that with green beans and loved it.  I am anxiously waiting for my brussel sprout to come in so I can roast them with Berbere on them.

The next test was to see how it went with meat. I rubbed the Berbere on some venison steaks and grilled them, I got a beautifully balanced, slightly spicy rub that seasoned my venison steaks perfectly.  That got me thinking about using it in a sausage.  There is a Morocan lamb sausage called Merguez that mixes harissa and lamb together to made a brilliantly flavored sausage.  I had some wild boar in the freezer so I thawed out five pounds of boar and seasoned it with 1/4 cup of Berbere.  The flavors of the Berbere, seemed to me to be a perfect blend for smoking so after I stuffed the sausages and let them sit in the fridge overnight I smoked them in my new smoker at 225 degrees for about 4 hours.   The final result was a juicy, smokey sausage with a little heat that remined me of Andoullie.

After tasting the sausage the first thing I wanted to try was red beans and rice with these sausages mixed in.  The sausage added so much flavor to the beans and rice and still had a great texture and flavor.  It was one of my prouder moments.

Smoked Wild Boar and Berbere Sausage

4 pounds wild boar meat
1 pound back fat
40 grams kosher salt
6 grams insta cure #1
1/4 cup Berbere paste

Mix all the ingredients together and grind through a medium plate.  Pack into casing and let sit overnight in the fridge.  smoke at 225 for around 4 hours using your favorite wood chips.  I went with apple.