I may have made homemade Cypriot sausages. I say this with hesitation because for some reason I honestly did not think it would be possible to make homemade sausages in the middle of an urban city (… as opposed to a rural city). It felt a bit strange. Not that I was able to stick to the very traditional recipe. I don’t mean that the “loukanika” didn’t taste good, or that I used different ingredients. But, making “loukanika”, in an urban city is not as easy as making it in the middle of a Cypriot mountain village – like my family used to make. (Speaking of which, my aunt went to the village and brought me some wonderful almond blossoms which is why you see them dotted throughout this post.)
There are a lot of differences to making “loukanika” in a rural area – such as my grandma’s mountain village – compared to an urban sprawl. But the main thing here, is that I wasn’t able to create a homemade fire on my balcony to dry out the “loukanika”. … I mean, I guess I could have tried. But my neighbours probably would have complained. I think they already thought I was a bit strange when they saw me hauling in random pieces of door and old pieces of window shutter into my flat. But in all other respects, you can actually do a really good job of making your own homemade “loukanika” – no matter where you are living in Cyprus (city or not) and even if you are outside Cyprus.
So if you are up for it, I would definitely try to make the sausages below. “Loukanika” are a type of traditional Cypriot sausage. They are sausages made from pork, and matured in salt, red wine (hence why the sausages look purple in the pictures), and a variety of spices – the main ones being coriander and a dried berry called “schinia” from a type of Mediterranean bush whose latin name is pistacia lentiscus. I believe it is the same bush, where “mastica” comes from, but it’s all a bit confusing and I won’t try to explain all of this. Best to go to a speciality store and ask someone who works there for advice on where to find this spice. The sausages are very tasty, very spicy and have a strong wine flavour. They go great with fried eggs, grilled halloumi and fresh tomato and make for a great meal when you are in the mood for an easy-to-make meal. I sometimes combine everything into a sandwich. … Making “loukanika” is a little labor intensive – but once you make it, I am sure you will enjoy them.
Level of Difficulty: 5/5
Preparation Time: about 8 days
Cooking Time: n/a
Makes about 16 large sausages. Usually “loukanika” are made in large quantities, but this recipe is for a more manageable amount
1kg pork shoulder cut into small cubes (meat and fat together)
3-4 tbs crushed coriander
3-4 tbs salt
1 & 1/2 tbs whole “schinia” (or “shinia”) (Note: whole “shinia” looks like black peppercorns, but are not. They also are not pink peppercorns. They are also not juniper berries. “Shinia” come from a plant indigenous to the Mediterranean called pistacia lentiscus in Latin, so it’s best to ask a speciality store for direction when buying these because it’s a very specific type of dried berry that is needed. I suppose you could use pink peppercorn as a substitute if you cannot find “schinia”.)
1 & 1/2 tsps freshly ground black pepper
dry red wine (you will need a few bottles, see below for instructions)
2 pork intestines (cleaned and ready to be used). Tell your butcher you have diced 1kg of meat, and ask how many pork intestines you will need.
1. In a large bowl place the chopped meat, sprinkle 1 tbs salt and add enough red wine to cover the meat completely.
2. Cover and place it in the refrigerator. Every day for 8 days, stir and add about a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup more wine. During this time, the meat will soak up the wine.
4. Stir the mixture. It is now ready to be stuffed into the intestines. You may need to create a “funnel” at the top of the intestine. (A trick is to get a little bendable twig, and make a circle with it, tie the two ends together. Then, put an open end of the intestine around this to make a firm opening. Also, if the intestines are long cut them in half, it will be easier to stuff and form the sausages.) Tie a knot at the other end of the intestine.
5. Begin to stuff the intestine with the sausage mixture. Once all the mixture has been stuffed into the intestine, tie a knot at the end.
7. Then, hang the sausages to dry in the sun for 2 weeks. (Bring them in at night and if it rains, otherwise leave them outside in the sun). Note that traditionally, people would “dry out” their “loukanika” by smoking them over the fireplace – sometimes burning the branches from wild juniper bushes. But, if you are making “loukanika” in a city, this won’t really be possible.
8. Once the sausages are dry, they are ready to be cooked. Serve them hot, cooked on charcoals, or fried with eggs, and together with (grilled) halloumi and tomato. (Note that the picture below is of the “loukanika” once they have been dried in the sun for 2 weeks. It’s not very appetizing but they taste really good – I promise!)