Skip to comments.A Link to the Past; Faithful Await Return of Luxembourgian Dish (Mustripen Alert!)
Posted on 02/03/2008 8:40:56 AM PST by Diana in Wisconsin
Lake Church, WI - Picky eaters don't line up for mustripen.
But those who grew up eating the blood-and-cabbage sausage of Luxembourgian origin eagerly anticipate winter, when mustripen (pronounced moose-try-pin) occasionally appears on restaurant and church breakfast menus in rural Ozaukee and Sheboygan county towns where Luxembourger roots run deep.
"It's hard to get past the smell and the unappetizing appearance," said Briana Birenbaum, a 21-year-old accounting major at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, who finally caved in to family heritage pressure and tried mustripen at the St. Mary Parish School's annual mustripen and pancake breakfast last weekend.
"I mean, look at it!" Birenbaum exclaimed, wrinkling her nose and curling her upper lip as she poked a brown hunk on her plate with a fork. "It's cabbage and blood and other gross things from a pig. How appetizing is that?"
Birenbaum's Luxembourger dad, Pat, begs to differ, though mom Jean - not of Luxembourgian descent - has refused to taste mustripen through 26 years of marriage.
"I can't get it at home - my wife won't make it - so I have to go out for it," Pat Birenbaum said with a sigh.
Diners who can get past the doggie doo-doo appearance may sample the casing-clad sausage today from the $7.75 all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Hobo's Korner Kitchen on Main St. in Belgium. The buffet ($4.50 for kids) also includes less controversial sausage links, fried potatoes, eggs, bacon and fruit.
Hobo's serves its mustripen breakfast buffet the first Sunday of every month from September through May, and typically goes through 80 to 100 pounds of the stuff between 7 and 10:30 a.m., though business is slower on Green Bay Packers game days, assistant manager Jim Pollack noted. (Today's Super Bowl isn't expected to detract from business.)
Mustripen lovers come from as far as Minnesota and Illinois, Pollack said.
"You either love it or you hate it; there's nothing in between."
Five Pillars Supper Club, just east of Random Lake, also serves mustripen on its brunch buffet the third Sunday of the month from September through May.
Like Norwegian lutefisk or Southern chitlins, mustripen is considered culturally important, but with opposing sides on its edibility. Mustripen started as a fall and spring hog-butchering tradition to use up undesirable pig parts.
Today, mustripen divides families such as the Birenbaums of Belgium into factions, pitting those who love it, even crave it, against those who won't allow it in the house. Opinion usually breaks along generational lines, with a strong elderly following, though adventurous 20-somethings have been known to try mustripen and like it.
Briana Birenbaum, who tasted five bites chased with pancake, conceded, "It tastes better than I thought it would. It even melted in my mouth."
Pat Birenbaum said he goes to either his parents' house or to Hobo's Korner Kitchen to satisfy his mustripen cravings.
Both Hobo's and Five Pillars get their mustripen from Schwai's Meat & Sausage Market in Fredonia and Jackson. Schwai's might be the only mustripen source in Wisconsin, though it's difficult to confirm.
Tom Schwai, a third-generation sausage-maker, said he has grown accustomed to the distinctive smell of mustripen, which he attributes to the summer savory herb that gives it flavor, and possibly the cooked cabbage and beef blood.
"The blood isn't gonna hurt you, and you can't taste it," he added. "It's iron. It's good for you."
The sausages begin with fatty pig jowls and picnic ham, cabbage, onion, spices and bread, Schwai said. Those ingredients are cooked together, then the mixture is fed through a grinder, then a mixer to get a smooth texture. He adds a quart of beef blood near the end for moisture. (Pork blood isn't allowed because of the potential for disease.)
That mixture is stuffed into natural pork casings, cooked to a safe 160 degrees, and plunged into ice water to prevent spoilage. Links are hung in a cooler for storage.
Schwai got the recipe from Alex Noster, a beloved sausage-maker who died three years ago this month when his Ford Escort broke through the ice on Random Lake. Noster had been ice fishing earlier with friends, and was on his way to Hobo's to check on ingredients for his next batch of mustripen when the accident occurred.
Many area residents feared the recipe would be lost with Noster, as mustripen-making no longer is common practice on farms. But Noster had shared the recipe with Schwai before he died, Schwai said.
Schwai figures he makes about 100 pounds of mustripen two to three times a month.
"Demand is growing," he said. "Believe it or not."
The recipe has changed since it was a farm breakfast staple of older generations; it used to be made with the head of the pig and pig's blood.
Vern Arendt, 87, of Port Washington fondly recalls the savory smell of mustripen from his childhood on a farm near Belgium. "It was a wonderful smell coming up from the barn after chores. And by the time you sat down at the table, you were hungry."
He also remembers when his mother would serve the last of the mustripen in springtime. "It was like a funeral. Everyone would leave the table with a sad face."
Members of the Catholic Order of Foresters - many of them mustripen aficionados - served nearly 90 pounds of the brown sausage at the recent St. Mary Parish School pancake breakfast.
"Mustripen is a big draw for the breakfast," said Clem Bichler of Belgium, a Luxembourger who eagerly doled out mustripen to those who wanted it, and encouraged those who didn't to at least taste it. "Some of the people crave it and say 'load the boat,' " Bichler said, smiling. "Others say, 'I'll try just one piece.'
"To those who don't try it, I say, 'Maybe next year because you'll wish you had.' "
**Freeper Kitchen Ping**
That’s not food!
You know it has to be nasty when Google only gives you a page and a half of hits and not one photo.
On the other hand, Google has tens of thousands of hits when “scrapple” is in the search box. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.
No. And no to haggis.
C’mon, lady. Hog jowls and picnic ham are disgusting things from a pig?
I’d like to try Mustripen. I was not raised on Hot Pockets and McMuffins so I can try these heritage dishes. When I was little we had duck blood soup and turtle stew and rattlesnake which I don’t think my neighbors would like nowadays.
But it is ok. It is how close you are to history. The foods I would not want to try because of ickiness are dog, guinea pig, tarantula, and lobster but if I were around others eating it I would just say no thanks. I would not act all prissy and say disparaging things that reflect on the people.
So how is it? It actually doesn’t sound half bad.
Honestly? Mustripen tastes like bratwurst to me, though a less firm texture, of course, ‘wid all dat cabbage in der, don’t ‘cha know?’ LOL!
I come from a long line of sausage makers. When Grandma Anita was still alive, we’d have “Sausage Day” once a year in the Fall. We’d run around to the local markets gathering the ingredients needed, then we’d have at it for the day. Everyone from the smallest grandkid to the oldest adult had their “assigned duties” with Grandma acting as Mess Sergeant. It was quite the event!
Oh, Man! There’s nothing better than your own homemade breakfast sausages and brats. Yummy!
And I agree with Homer Simpson. A pig is a “Magical Animal” that gives us ham, bacon, sausage and pork chops! :)
I agree on the haggis. :)
My same Grandma Anita, as in Post #11, used to make Chicken Foot Soup. That woman never wasted an OUNCE of anything, LOL!
CHICKEN FOOT SOUP
2 Pkg chicken feet, about 2 lbs (Good luck finding these today!)
2 Chicken breast, boned & coarsley chopped
1 Chicken bouillion cube
2 qt Water for boiling
1 Small onion, peeled, & coarsley chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Green onions, chopped, tops and bottoms
(Flour, for thickening liquid)
4 Carrots, peel, cut into pieces 2”long, 1/4” wide
Oil, for saute
Salt/pepper to taste
1 t Dried oregano
1 t Dried Rosemary
Dry white wine... a cup or a quart, to your taste
Wash them chickens feet... scrub between toes... remove “toe-jam”. Rinse in clear water.
Wash and de-fat chicken breasts...remove skin and bones. Cut into small pieces. Pat dry with paper towels, and saute in hot oil or butter for a few minutes.
Add vegetables...and spices...saute a few minutes more. Stir, make onions soft but not browned. Add a little wine, cook over low heat for a few minutes while you drink a glass of the wine and some of the liquid evaporates...do not cover skillet.
Boil water... add bouillion and dissolve (the bouillion). Throw in the whole mess from the skillet, all meat and vegetables...toss in the feet... bring to a boil and then simmer until the chicken is cooked and tender.
Have another cup of wine.
In a clean skillet... heat some oil... add some flour, equal measure... maybe 1/4 cup, each... over moderate heat, make a “roux”...browning the flour/oil mixture, but do not burn... add to the soup.
Cook the whole thing until slightly thickened... remove from heat...add the rest of the wine...cover...let set a few minutes... and serve with cooked rice. Open a second bottle of wine to serve with the soup.
I raise laying hens for eggs and believe me...the LAST part of them I’d eat would be their feet, LOL!
Thighs and giblets are my favorite parts. I used to like to gather eggs unless the hen was on the nest. Gosh they can pick so hard. Many hens and I have had long stare downs. They usually won and I’d have to come back.
At one restaurant years ago, I noticed there were a few menu items I never ordered anything for. One was the chicken croquettes. People would line up for them at lunch when they hit the specials every few weeks - and everyone wanted the recipe. I talked to the chef and he got a little sheepish look. Seems that he used the neck meat, tail, hearts, gizzards, skin, and any extra fat that came on the whole chickens.
Of course, when we did share the recipe, we just said to use "x" amount of chicken. People would always tell us later that their attempts just couldn't match ours. Heh heh.
“Seems that he used the neck meat, tail, hearts, gizzards, skin, and any extra fat that came on the whole chickens.”
Oh, you betcha! That’s one smart lady, and I’ll bet she had a very successful business as well.
I love nothing more than to simmer a chicken carcass for stock. You can’t make a decent soup without a great stock.
One of my secrets? I keep all veggie peelings (onion skins, broccoli stalks, carrot peelings and ends, celery leaves, etc.) in a freezer bag. When it’s time to boil a chicken carcass, that all gets thrown in, too. :)
BTW - Will, the chef was in his mid-60s when I knew him. He had apprenticed to an old German chef as a teenager.
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