Pigs in a Brioche Blanket

After battle brioche I was left with over a pound of unused brioche. I decided to try something I have always wanted to make, but have not: “Pigs in a Blanket” and what better blanket is there than a supple, buttery brioche blanket? I decided to make this pigs in a blanket recipe as my first foray into the subject.

Sausages are wonderful creatures, grilled, smoked, cured, I like them in almost any form. The problem with the way most people prepare sausages is that they are terribly over done.

“Standard recommendation for cooking pork are that it be cooked to a temperature of 150 degrees F./ 65 C., for a final temperature of 155 degrees F. We personally never want to cook a pork chop or loin that far, but for a pork sausage, it’s fine, even prudent, and the sausage remains juicy at that temperature because of its high fat content and because the flavor and juiciness are contained in the casing… Unfortunately, most people it seems cook sausages past 200 degrees F. until they’re grainy an dry inside.”

Indeed, most ruining of sausages occurs not from a problem with the meat or seasoning, but rather due to the cook’s neglect for paying enough mind to how they are being cooked. With this in mind, I decided to cook my Andouille by poaching in warm (not boiling water).

“From a temperature standpoint, poaching is the gentlest way to cook sausage. If you place a sausage in water that’s between 160 and 180 degrees F, too hot to touch but not yet simmering-gentle uniform, consistent – it will cook very uniformly.”

This is exactly what I intended to do. But a bit of planning first: sausages have a tendency to curl when cooked. I want a straight, uniform, sausage for my final dish, so I am going to tie them off to keep them straight. I took two cooking skewers and some kitchen twine. First tie a line of the twine onto one of the skewers.

Next wrap the twine (not too) tightly around the sausage and the other skewer. Tighten the ends and tie off. Presto, sausage stretcher.

Sorry there are not more pictures but my hands were busy with the sausage. There really is no need to make this pretty – just get it done.

On to cooking the sausage… I filled my terrine with water and warmed over medium-high heat to around 190 degrees F. checking regularly with my instant read thermometer.

Once the water reached that level, I dropped in my room temperature sausage, causing the water temp to fall immediately to 180 F.

I turned off the burner, inserted the thermometer into the top of the sausage, and put the lid on the terrine.

I waited patiently as the temperature rose to 150 degrees (about 12 minutes). Well, that is what I should’ve done at least, instead I went across the street to get some beers and asked her to check my sausage in 3-5 minutes. When I returned 10 minutes later I found out she didn’t pull it till 155 degrees F. FOR SHAME…

Not really, no harm, no foul. I removed the sausage from the “stretcher” and then using the loaf pan I intended to use to bake it in as a guide, I cut the ends off (and ate them immediately).

Then, I carefully slit the side of the sausage and removed the casing.

A quick wrap up in plastic wrap and into the fridge it went to cool down. I figured if the sausage was still warm when I put it into the brioche it would probably melt the butter around it and cause problems in baking.

About 3 hours before you want to bake the brioche, remove it from the fridge and let it proof. For ease, I used 2 of the same sized loaf pans. I placed half the brioche in one and then line the other one with greased wax paper before adding the other half. 30 minutes prior to baking, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When ready to bake, add the chilled sausage to the top of the risen brioche dough in the vessel that will be put in the oven.

Carefully invert the other vessel over the sausage laden brioche and shimmy the top half on down over top. If you have done a good job it will look something like this:

Place this rapidly-approaching-delectableness into the oven and bake at 350 degrees uncovered for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown on all sides. While still warm, use the back of a bread knife cocked to an angle slightly less than parallel to the sides of the baking vessel to loosen and slide the finished pigs in a blanket out. Serve hot or chill in the fridge and serve cold with Dijon mustard, and cornichons or cocktail onions.

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