Class is in session, sit down and “FA ATTENZIONE” (pay attention). Today’s class is not about sausage making it’s simply about a particular type of Italian Sausage, the thin Cheese and Parsley sausage that goes by a host of names. It can be called BARESE SAUSAGE (quite the popular name of it in Canada), Cheese and Parsley Sausage, the most used in the NYC and surrounding areas, LUGANEGA which is the ancient name for a COILED ITALIAN PORK UNCURED SAUSAGE, also called Lucanega, Lucania and many Italian-Americans whose ancestry is from Bari and Puglia or Basilicata refer to it as “SHIVILATZ”…which definitely is an American corruption of a dialect word. Take it from this Italian American, we confuse ourselves with 1000 names and pronounciations for the same thing.
Pure LUGANEGA most likely was a coarse ground pork sausage with spices for preserving it and made in long coils came from LUCANIA now called BASILICATA. It’s the region my maternal grandfather Innocenzo Scaramuzzi was born in and immigrated to NYC from when he was 25. I blame him for my insatiable taste for this delicious treat.
There I am with Grandpa, Christmas Day 1978. Much of what is in my cooking comes directly from his style, region, and dishes. Grazie Grandpa. I n my home region of NY/NJ cheese and parsley sausage held together with a crisscross of wooden skewers always signaled the beginning of the Summer as the most popular way to make them was on the grill and Summer is our grilling season. Today they are sold year round and many places refer to them as Luganega. Those sausages contain fresh chopped parsley, grated Provolone or Pecorino, lots of ground black pepper. Most likely if you asked for Luganega in Italy you would get the more Northern Italy style which is a thicker continuous coil of sweet pork sausage, no cheese or parsley. Basilicata makes a fennel version and local hot chile spiked version. No studies have been done on this to back me up so if you know of the “REAL” reason why, please comment back to me..but…my assumption is that since the Barese-Americans all seem to have the special name of it (Shivulazz) and the Canadians call it Barese Sausage…the Cheese and Parsley version must be from Puglia (Bari is the capital of Puglia). A beautiful locally made Cheese and Parsley ring. This became the grilled version you see in the top picutre. Succulent and bursting with flavor this sausage it too be savored. I can’t speak any more highly about it, get out and find a ring. Best way to cook it? Over Charcoal or Roasted or Pan Fried. Takes only about 15 minutes to cook it all the way thru, just not over too high of any heat source. You want to create a crisp caramelized casing on the sausage. Let it sit for 5 minutes after removing it from the heat source. This is a thin sausage, yes, cooks quickly but it’s tight wrapping means it could still be raw where the coils touch. 15 minutes should do it. Cut a piece from the center if you’re not sure and cook a little longer, just don’t overcook because when it’s dry is just not as good. Rub a lemon over the sides of it right before serving along with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Serve it over a bed of greens, cooked with garlic and oil OR raw, it’s just beautiful.
It can also be served with a variety of sides and along with small meatballs. Stuff cut pieces into Brick oven Italian loaves of bread, with roasted peppers, with fried peppers and onions..dice it up and add to a pasta dish or roast with potatoes, carrots, celery. In concluding this “class” on a type of Italian sausage..while there may be certain recipes that are most traditional with a food by no means is it the end of what you can do with it. There are many ways to make a dish out of these Luganega. Try your hand at it…and let me know what you came up with.