One of my favorite cities in France is Lyon. I’ve only been there a few times and never stay for very long, but it’s a city I feel comfortable in. Better than Paris because it seems to lack all of the capital’s pretentiousness and hype while still boasting culture and some of the best cuisine in the country. Almost all of the great names of gastronomy were trained in Lyon, under the Mères - or Mothers – matronly female chefs dating back to the 1700′s who served hearty and creative dishes to their work-a-day clientele. Eventually their fame grew, along with their recipes and many of them have become classics in what is known as cuisine lyonnaise.
Let the feminist pride take over; all that great French cuisine the male masters have made careers out of wouldn’t exist with les Mères lyonnaise.
This sausage in brioche is one such classic. Known as saucisson brioché, it can be served as an appetizer to a larger meal or on its own with a green salad on the side. I’ve seen it everywhere. Not just in Lyon, but in brasseries, fine dining restaurants, cafés and the occasional ambitious bakery all over the country.
Brioche is typically served as a sweet, either at breakfast with powdered sugar or as part of a dessert, sometimes with fruit, liquor or syrup. It’s a thick, enriched bread with a high egg and butter content and I’ve often heard it said that it’s hard to make. This is far from the truth. The recipe is simple.
But as the dough has the texture of thick cake batter it’s a pain in the butt to work with. It was like plopping an uncooked cake onto my counter top.
While powdered sugars and fruits and liquors are all very well and good, wrapping the batter around a smoked sausage gives this bread a whole new flavor. The taste of butter and the egg fuse with the smoked pork and you’re eating something that tastes like it should melt in the mouth. It’s deceptively light, and I can tell you from experience that you don’t realize how heavy a brioche is until you’ve eaten a third of the loaf.
People make prettier brioche than me. I was just happy to get the dough scraped off my counter and into the baking tin without incident. I was happy to see that now that I’m home in Toulon my dough is actually rising again.
This is definitely a do-ahead type of dish. You want to prepare it in advance of whenever it’s to be served. I would say the day before or the morning before a dinner or a party. It could easily be part of a party spread as it’s attractive in its simplicity and satisfies the craving for bread and meat in one loaf.
I used a small smoked sausage for this recipe that was under 200 grams. The original recipe from Saveurs Mars 2013, N° 199 calls for a Morteau sausage of around 400 grams. The traditional Lyon recipe uses a Morteau sausage that has pistachios baked into it. If you want to serve this for more than 3 people, definitely go with the massive Morteau sausage. Plus it looks cooler.
However the perks of using a smaller sausage means you have some brioche dough left over to bake into a loaf of its own and spread with Nutella.
I’m always thinking ahead. In this case: lunch and tomorrow’s breakfast in one.
- 1 large smoke sausage of around 400 grams, Morteau is recommended
- 250 grams all purpose flour
- 125 grams unsalted butter, cold, sliced into pieces
- 3 eggs
- 25 mL milk, room temperature
- pinch of salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 package of yeast
- Cook the sausage in a large pot of water heated just at boiling point for 40 minutes. Remove the sausage from the water and put it in the refrigerator to cool until needed.
- While the sausage is cooking you can prepare the brioche dough. In a large bowl combine the flour and the butter by hand or by using a pastry cutter, until the butter is mixed into the flour and the texture resembles cake crumbs. Add the 3 eggs and beat them into the batter with a wooden spoon. Add the salt, sugar, then milk and yeast and mix the dough for five minutes until the batter thickens.
- This will take some extra elbow grease but I highly suggest using a wooden spoon instead of an electric mixer or your hands.
- Let the dough rise for 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Grease a bread or baking tin.
- On a heavily floured surface (seriously), dump out the dough, and place the sausage in the center, carefully wrapping the dough around the sausage until it’s about even on all sides. Carefully place in your bread tin and smooth out the dough, evening out any places the dough may have thinned around the sausage. You want the sausage to be as close to the center of the loaf as possible, though it will sink some.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. If the top starts to burn cover with tin foil and then continue baking until done. Slice and serve with a fresh salad.