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Knackwurst at a Glance
Holstein, northern Germany
Type of Charcuterie
Fresh Sausage, Smoked, Cooked Sausage
Beef, pork, veal, garlic, salt, other spices, hog casing
Knockwurst, knackwurste, crack sausage, knackwurst sausage, garlic sausage, knoblouch, Knoblauch
Like other German wursts the knackwurst traces its origins hundreds of years back where the practice of sausage making was done to preserve meat and consume unused parts of animals butchered. Smaller in size compared to other sausages, the knackwurst was originally made from pure beef parts. This was highly seasoned and considered to be a delicacy among the Habsburg royalty.
Today knackwurst is enjoyed by more than just royalty inside and outside of Germany. It is a common crowd pleaser that is served during celebrations and festivities usually eaten as finger food due to its size and easy handling.
The sausage takes its name from the German terms "knacken" which means to crack, and "knackig" which means crisp. Both of these terms describe the sausage itself which tends to break and make a cracking sound when cooked as well as when it is bitten into.
As mentioned earlier, it is smaller in size with links ranging from 3 to 6 inches (76-152 mm) in length. It is however, quite fat for its size with an inch and a half to two inches (39-50 mm) diameter, making it look stubby. Made from emulsified meat, it has a fine soft texture on the inside that is juicy.
Although traditional knackwurst is made with pure beef, varieties today are usually made using meat mixtures such as pork and beef. High end or gourmet versions may have veal in it as well. The meat is seasoned with garlic, salt and other spices before being emulsified.
It is then put into hog casings and made into links, then allowed to age for about 2 to 5 days to enhance the garlic flavor before being smoked over oak wood. The end result is a zesty and slightly spicy sausage with a mild garlic flavor. Its taste is often likened to bratwurst and frankfurters.
Knackwurst needs further cooking before being eaten. Commonly it is cooked through poaching or grilling and traditionally served with sauerkraut and potato salad. However, it is a versatile sausage which can be eaten with many other things aside from this. Like some other sausages knackwurst can also be eaten with bread and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup as well as other sauces.
Photo Credit: artizone