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Loukaniko is a type of Greek sausage often seasoned with garlic and orange peels or chili spices. Made primarily with ground pork meat, lamb or beef might be mixed in as well. Eaten alone or as part of other recipes, loukaniko can be homemade or found in specialty stores or at Greek butchers.
Pork, often shoulder, and garlic are always included in loukaniko. Orange peel, or zest, is normally used as flavoring, though some spicier northern Greek versions may omit the citrus and add chilies instead. Fennel, cinnamon, and leeks are often used as seasonings as well. Many other herbs, seasonings, and meats may also be included, and recipes vary among regions.
Dry milk powder is sometimes added to help keep the meat moist. Greek white wine, like retsina, may be added to the sausage as well. Seasonings such as coriander, oregano, salt, and pepper are also suggested in some versions. For spicier sausage, ground red pepper or chopped chili peppers may be included.
The sausage is most easily made with a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer. For those who do not have a meat grinder handy, a food processor is a suitable substitute. Buying ground meat is also an option. Likewise, a sausage stuffer can be replaced by a pastry bag or a liter- or gallon-sized plastic storage bag with one of the corners cut off.
To make loukaniko, the pork, and other meats if used, is cut into cubes and placed in the meat grinder or food processor to create ground pork. The pork should be kept very cold so the meat and seasonings bind properly and the texture remains desirable. Placing the pork in the freezer, then keeping it on ice when it is not being worked with, is suggested. The chilled ground meat is placed in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mixed with the spices.
Once thoroughly combined, the mixture is chilled again, then stuffed into casings. Casing are normally hog but can be beef instead. After the sausage is stuffed into the casings, they are twisted into links and the ends are tied off. Then, they are hung from a rack to dry. Once dry, they are refrigerated overnight while they cure.
Although loukaniko can be eaten alone, it can also be used in other recipes. For example, sliced loukaniko can be combined with eggs, feta cheese, salt, and pepper, to create a sausage frittata. The meat and flavorings can also be mixed together and formed into patties or meatballs.
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