By Aimee Blume
A light lunch with a sandwich of cold-cuts is appropriate for any time of year, but when the weather is cold, a heartier, old-fashioned sausage such as braunschweiger hold more appeal.
Dewig’s Meat in Haubstadt, where they are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, has won a number of awards for their own house-made braunschweiger.
Braunschweiger, literally translated, means a person or thing from the German city of Braunschweig, or Brunswick in the English spelling. Like the “hamburger” and “frankfurter,” however, what we in America call by the city’s name doesn’t necessarily have much to do with a meat product from that area.
Here, braunschweiger is a smoothly-ground, pate-like sausage based on liver.
“Braunschweiger can be made from beef or pork liver, but here in the Midwest we are used to pork,” said Aaron Kiesel, head sausage maker — or wurstmacher — at Dewig’s. “There are many different formulations of what might go into it.”
Some old folks still call it “gooseliver,” and there are recipes that actually use poultry livers. But what you buy at any local store will be made with pork.
“The percentage of liver in the sausage will vary depending on where it’s made,” said Dewig’s store manager Darla Kiesel. “We put some bacon in ours too, so it has really good flavor. The rest is pork trimmings, salt, pepper, some mustard and onion powders. Most places stuff braunschweiger in a plastic casing like we do, or you can find other synthetic casings. The key when you’re mixing it is not to get too much liver, because liver can be bitter. You want a nice flavor, and you want the salt concentration right so the other spices come through. We add the bacon because it gives you that clean flavor that isn’t going to leave an aftertaste.”
The sausage is finely ground and creamy, practically whipped in a high speed chopper to a consistency that’s sliceable when cold and nearly spreadable when warmer. Next to being eaten simply sliced on crackers or a sandwich, the next best beloved way to eat braunschweiger is mixed with cream cheese or sour cream into a dip or liver-flavored cheese ball for spreading.
Dewig’s braunschweiger comes in two different sizes, a small one-pound chub and a larger log for slicing. The chubs sell individually at local stores, and the larger logs are found in deli’s.
You might think that such an old-fashioned pork liver sausage might be falling out of favor, but that isn’t the case, according to the Kiesels. Dewig’s sells a couple hundred pounds a week if you include sales at their own store and wholesale sales to local groceries.
“Our sales of braunschweiger have stayed consistent over the years,” said Aaron Kiesel. “Although our sales might be up because there’s not a lot of people producing their own braunschweiger anymore, and we ship a lot of it to the stores in Evansville. Field still makes it, but it’s not something you can get from just anybody.”
Dewig’s braunschweiger is a particularly tasty and high-quality product, as evidenced by the awards they’ve won this year, including Reserve Grand Champion in March of 2015 at the Wurstfest sausage contest in Hermann, Missouri; and Braunschweiger Champion at the 2015 Hoosier Cured Meats championship through the Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association.
“Liver is a cheap product and bacon is not so cheap,” said Darla Kiesel. “If you’re trying to use cheaper products and go with more liver you’ll get a terrible tasting product. I think ours is very good tasting. Pretty much every show we take it to, we win an award.”
Best Braunschweiger Sandwich
Makes 1 sandwich
2 slices marble rye bread
1-2 teaspoons horseradish mustard
4 ounces sliced braunschweiger
4 rings red onion
4-6 slices sweet pickle
Crunchy potato chips
- Place one slice of the rye bread on a cutting board and spread with mustard.
- Top with the sliced braunschweiger, onion and pickles.
- Spread mustard on the remaining slice of bread and top the sandwich.
- Serve with crunchy potato chips to counter the soft creaminess of the sausage.
Mushroom Liver Pate Recipe
Serves 12, or makes 1 ½ cups
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces braunschweiger, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Dash cayenne pepper
Minced fresh parsley
- In a skillet, saute mushrooms in butter until tender. Remove from the heat. Stir in the braunschweiger, sour cream, onion, mustard and cayenne; mix well until all ingredients are combined and the braunschweiger is no longer in large pieces.
- Press into a 1-1/2 cups bowl lined with plastic wrap. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Invert onto a plate; garnish with parsley.