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i'm pretty decent at doing rustic pates in a terrine mold, but wanted to expand my skill set... so i decided to make liverwurst for the first time.

I used 1:1 ratio of pork liver and very fatty pork shoulder and followed this procedure - per recipe I found online:

  • Ground pork, then liver, then ground combined mixture all through small die
  • Mixed in spices, powdered milk and onions - chilled, then ground again through small die
  • Wrapped in muslin, twisted ends to create a tight casing and tied off
  • Dropped in boiling water, reduced water to simmer and poached for 3 hours
  • Drained water, dumped in ice water to chill - then set into fridge overnight

when i unwrapped it the following day i was expecting a nice firm, well bound sausage. instead i have something that crumbles when i cut a thin slice. it's really more like a pate.

i know that there are many many things i could have done wrong.

any ideas on what i should change up when i try again?

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There are many types of liverwurst. The one most commonly sold in German supermarkets is, indeed, firm. But I think it may have added gelatine - it is firmer than the meats I've seen gelled from natural collagen content. Then there is the spreadable liverwurst, which isn't a firm sausage, but a creamy mass. Maybe your recipe is intended for the second kind, and you didn't ground it as fine as to be creamy (you'll have to really puree it for that, a blender will be better than a meat grinder). –  rumtscho Apr 19 '11 at 15:19
    
@Rum why don't you convert that to an answer? –  mfg Apr 19 '11 at 16:09
    
@mfg it sounded somewhat thin, because it was only a guess, not really helpful. But thank you for the suggestion, I did some research in the typical haunts of German home cooks and made that a full answer. –  rumtscho Apr 19 '11 at 18:22

1 Answer 1

A probable answer is that maybe it wasn't intended to be firm at all.

There are different types of liverwurst in Germany. The most commonly sold one is indeed firm, but from its texture, I'd guess that it has gelatin added. It is more rubbery than the naturaly gelled meats I've eaten. But there is no guarantee that your recipe was intended for this kind.

Another common type is the spreadable liverwurst. It is a creamy mass which is intended to be spread on bread similar to cream cheese. If you want to make this kind, the meat grinder is probably only good for the first pass. I'd make sure to puree it really fine, a blender is probably better. (Unless you specifically want to make the chunky type).

I am not too sure that pork shoulder is such a good choice, probably the fat wasn't enough. The most popular recipes on chefkoch.de (a site similar in quality and popularity to allrecipes) call for pork belly, the part which is made into bacon. Some of them also say to add speck, which is the non-rendered subcutaneous layer of fat of the pig. It also tends to come from the belly (sometimes from the back), but has less or no meat attached. Many specify that the meat gets cooked first, then ground. The raw liver gets ground separately (after removing fascia and the ducts). Then everything is mixed, pureed (or regrinded for chunky). Then it is filled (some use natural casing, most fill it into jars, nowhere was muslin mentioned) and sterilized. I found some variance among the methods, but as I haven't tried any of them, I can't tell you which works best. I didn't find a recipe which was explicitly for firm liverwurst, but many of them explicitly mentioned spreadable liverwurst.

I also found some discussion on the proper ratio. This varies (depending on taste) between the liver being 20% to 33% of the whole mass. A higher ratio seems to cause both dryness and bitter taste.

This is probably helpful if you can live with spreadable wurst. If you insist on the firm kind, you may have to experiment with gelatine, because I couldn't find any homemade recipes for that.

Edit: some more research suggests that the denaturing proteins in the liver are enough to bind the leberwurst to be firm, and adding some of the fatty water in which the meat cooked makes it spreadable. The one who wrote it seemed to have some authority on making sausages (at least he made lots of posts and the others didn't disagree with any of them). Again, this isn't my opinion, just a translated summary.

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wow. thanks for the rundown. i'm guessing you're probably right wrt the recipe being for a more spreadable product - that's what it produced! could definitely back off the liver ratio, per what you read when it's consumed this way. odd about the muslin. i went out of my way to find that since the recipe called for it. i know some people use that technique for foie, so thought it could be a good fit. back to the drawing board to find a technique for the firmer version. –  Colin Apr 19 '11 at 18:59
    
And there are more varieties, some of which are indeed somewhat "crumbly" in that they contain larger chunks somewhat loosely held together. –  jwenting Apr 20 '11 at 8:00
    
thanks again guys. after letting it sit in the fridge for a day after unwrapping the wet muslin the texture is more consistent and the flavor has mellowed a bit. it's pretty tasty, just not what i was looking for in a liverwurst. more like a french pate grandmere. wish i could hand out samples here! –  Colin Apr 20 '11 at 14:16

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