Potato sausage, a staple of generations of immigrants in the Midwest, is a traditional Christmas Eve dish in Sweden. The finely-ground, lightly-seasoned meat can substitute in recipes calling for sausage, but it's usually fried, baked or grilled as a main dish and served with mustard. If you're adept at sausage-making, you'll find it's easy to make at home.
What Is Potato Sausage?
Potato sausage, called korv, potatis korv or varmlandskorv (or Värmlands Korv) in Sweden, is exactly what it sounds like. Boiled potatoes are combined with ground beef and pork to create a mild-flavored sausage. The sausage is seasoned with onion, salt, allspice and pepper, and stuffed into a casing. A German version called katufulwurst is seasoned with garlic and Italian seasoning.
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The addition of potatoes stretched the number of servings, making korv an economical choice for cooks with limited resources. Swedish immigration to the United States swelled after crop failures in that country in the 19th century. Potato sausage made its way into the diets of Midwesterners as the migrating Swedes continued their cooking traditions in their U.S. settlements.
Potato sausage is one of the stars of the smorgasbord, a large meal served buffet-style. Meatballs, pickled herring, brown beans, bread and lutfisk share the table. The food is so abundant that the word "smorgasbord" has come to mean a "wide variety of something." If you don't want to make your own sausage and can't find it at the supermarket, many IKEA stores sell korv in the form of a wiener, or you can buy it online.
Cooking With Potato Sausage
Cook potato sausage in a little oil in a skillet for about 15 minutes or on a greased baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until brown. Serve with sharp mustard.
Saute sliced onions and bell peppers in a skillet until they're almost cooked through. Add the sausage, cover and cook until the peppers are soft and the sausage is warmed through. Serve on a crusty roll with mustard.
Cook sausage over indirect heat on the grill; then move it to direct heat to add grill marks. Keep in mind that the sausage has already been boiled, so it doesn't need to cook through. If you're substituting sausage that hasn't been boiled, heat it to an internal temperature of 160F.
Put whole baby potatoes in a slow cooker and toss with olive oil. Add sliced sausage, onion, tomato and 1/2 cup of broth. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours.
You'll need a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer to make potato sausage at home. Many stand mixers have both attachments, or you can buy them individually. Anything that works as a funnel, even the cut-off top of a plastic bottle, can substitute for a sausage stuffer, but they're messy and harder to use.
Boil potatoes until they're slightly tender but not cooked through. Plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking process; once they're cooled, cut them into pieces. Grind the potatoes with an onion; then combine them with ground beef, ground pork and the seasonings.
Follow the instructions on the sausage stuffer to fill natural casings. You can make one long sausage to cook whole or tie off smaller sausages with butcher's twine. Natural casings are easier to work with if they're warm. Make sure to clean them before filling them.
To cook the sausage, prick it in several spots with a sharp knife so it doesn't burst while it's cooking. Cover it with water, bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and let the sausage simmer for about 30 minutes.