Making Mortadella – Adventure in Emulsified Forcemeat

Homemade Mortadella- Not Bad for a First Try

In case you did not know, the meat product we call bologna (sometimes pronounced baloney) in the United States is really based on Mortadella, which is an emulsified sausage (or forcemeat) that is indigenous to the city of Bologna (pronounced boh-loh-nya), in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy.  I used Ruhlman & Polcyn’s recipe for mortadella, which includes pistachios with the classic chunks of creamy white fat, but often the pistachios are omitted in commercial versions.

This was my first try making an emulsified sausage (hot dogs are another example of an emulsified sausage), and it was a bit more challenging than the other 0nes I have made.  Now that I’ve gotten the grinding procedures down, getting the stuff ready for the emulsification was pretty easy.  I mixed the emulsion in the food processor, and it all came together pretty well.  Then came the hard part for me.  I made a large sausage shape by wrapping the forcemeat in plastic wrap, and then poached the sausage in 160 – 180 degrees F water on top of the stove, using a plate to keep the sausage submerged.

The hardest part of poaching is keeping the temperature within this range, and getting the sausage to cook evenly.  The pot I used for poaching tended to cook the bottom a little faster than the top.  This was frustrating, since my temp readings for one side would be about 100 degrees F, while my temp readings for the other side up would be 50 degrees F.  This is likely due to the shallowness of my poaching pot, since I did this on a burner.  I’m wondering if I would have better luck bringing the water to temp, then poaching this in a 180 degree oven, or if I just should use a deeper pot?

I think I was so freaked out about the warnings of cooking this too hot and having the emulsion break that I went too far the other way- instead of taking 12-15 minutes to cook, this took about an hour, and multiple checks of temperature, which meant more holes in the plastic wrap.

As it turns out, I had a good texture, and got a great first time result.  And none of my tasters were disappointed.  (Maybe my tasters are too nice?)  I should have more confidence at this stage of the game, I guess.  I’ve ordered some beef bungs and collagen casings, so hopefully my next attempt will be better packed, and more consistently shaped.

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4 Responses to Making Mortadella – Adventure in Emulsified Forcemeat

  1. Scott says:

    I commend you on making Mortadella. I did it once, I’m glad I did it, but, never again. I had to work in 2 batches from the food processor, which led to me leaving “meat” prints all over the kitchen. Get those collagen casings, make your life so much easier.

  2. quiltaunt says:

    Beef Bungs!?

  3. Jennifer says:

    Beef bungs are like hog casings. One of those things you’re glad exists, but don’t really want to discuss in detail. 😉 But I’ve got collagen casings of a few sizes now, so I’m looking forward to the next round.

    Scott… I can imagine the “meat prints”. I’ve made a few myself.

  4. I think I really want to see your face again! Grrls Meat Camp was too long ago! ~Butcherbetties

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