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Hard-Boiled Swiss Jesus

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The most popular dish around Lake Geneva is a mighty pork sausage religiously served over leek and potato papet. We call it a boutefas or a 'Jesus'.

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This is a boutefas [boot-fah], a very popular sausage in my parts of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. They make it with ground pork meat stuffed in pig's gut and cold smoked for hours. Then they hang it by the dozen in the butcher's shop like Chinese lanterns until somebody buys it. The surface has a wonderful smokey taste that makes you want to rub your nose on it. A very obscene sausage when you come to think of it. Believe me, you don't want to know exactly which part of the pig's guts was used to stuff the meat. Suffice to know that it is somewhere after the stomach down that long line between the mouth and the sticky end. In the Jura mountains they call it a 'Jesus'. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

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There is but one way to cook a boutefas or a saucisse aux choux, its longer cousin. Fill a pot with water, bring to the boil, plunge the sausage and reduce the heat to the lowest setting to let it simmer for 90 minutes. How many times have I seen my mum kill a sausage by boiling it on high heat? The sausage will break open if you do it. And if you stick toothpicks in the sausage to prevent any explosion, it will leak its fat into the water (good) and replace it with water (bad). So if you bring one of them boutefas back from Switzerland, heed my words and let it simmer really gently. I just placed my pot in the oven at 70°C / 160°F.

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The traditional accompaniment for a boutefas is papet vaudois, the national of the canton Vaud.

Papet vaudois [pah-pay vaw-doah]
1 kg / 2lbs leeks
500 grams / 1 lb potatoes
2 dl / 0.5 cup white wine
50 grams / 2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
Vinegar to the taste

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Trim the leeks and dicard damaged leaves. Slice then lengthwise and wash carefully to remove the dirt stuck within the leaves.

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Papet purists only use leek green. If your heart is pure, discard the white part or save it for another use. Leek green has more taste and stands up better to the sausage's strong smokey taste.

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Slice the green part in 2 cm / 0.8'' segments.

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Melt the butter in a large pot ...

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... and add the leek. Let the leek sweat over medium high heat, turning frequently. The idea is to soften the leek and let its water evaporate. It will take about 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, start peeling the potatoes...

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... then dice them coarsely...

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... and finally let the potatoes join the leeks.

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Pour in the white wine (I'm using Valaisian white wine rather than Vaudois, but don't leak this!).

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Let the wine bubble until there is no alcohol left. You'll know it when it stops smelling like alcohol. Toss the leeks and potatoes, reduce the heat to low and cover. Leave to simmer for 60 minutes, turning from time to time.

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The potatoes should be mushy. Crush them to a pulp. Proper papet is not made from crunchy vegetables in clear juice; it is more like a very thick soup. The fine people of Vaud use the word papet pejoratively for something that ought to be hard but is not. Snow that has been rained upon, ice cream or chocolate left in the sun ... you get the picture.

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I will now leak the final secret to a really successful papet. Take the pot off the fire and add an extra piece of butter. Drizzle on top a little of your best white wine vinegar. The acidity helps restore interest in an otherwise rather bland leek and potato dish. Even if, like myself, you don't care for vinegar, do this and taste the difference.

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Bring the boutefas out of the pot and tell him his hour has come.

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Place it on a carving board.

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At last the boutefas reveals its mystery. At 40% pig fat and 15 grams of salt per kilogram of meat, it is no poster boy for any diet. But as any vaudois will tell you, «It is not the boutefas that makes you fat. It is what you eat with it.»

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Place a slice of of boutefas on top the papet and serve.

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Delicious! The bland but deliciously buttery leeks and potatoes contrast sharply with the sausage's pungent smokey porkiness. This is Swiss slow comfort food and a very popular family dish in the canton of Vaud (North coast of Lake Geneva).

If you are a cowboy who lives in a chalet with no electricity and could use some extra calories to keep you alive through the night, then you can cook the boutefas directly on the papet to let some of its fat mix with the vegetables. Otherwise, this traditional way is just not recommended as you risk overcooking the vegetables, and there is plenty of fat to go on anyway. If you buy one of these sausages while visiting Switzerland I think you can safely bring it home to cook it later, it is designed to keep for weeks.

Published 19/03/2008
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24 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by GunnCat
  • on: 19/03/2008
You have to stop teasing us with all these wonderful meats we can't find in the United States FX! Looks wonderful, I bet it tastes even better.
  • #2
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
  • on: 19/03/2008
Any suggestions of a replacement sausage or similar ?In the UK we would only have a bland supermarket German sausage.That potato and Leek mixture reads great. Will try soon. ThanksPaul
I kinda like how you tucked that wine bottle into the back burner on your stove...
This is not fair!!!  I am on a need to know basis, and I don't need to know what part of the pig's gut this came from!  Your pictures are fantastic and I feel that you are teasing me with all this fabulous food that I can not get in the states!  I bet this tastes out of this world!
  • #5
  • Comment by Theodore
  • on: 20/03/2008
Hey FX! Can you demonstrate the classic french vichyssoise soup if you have any leftover leeks and potatoes??By the way, amazing job!Keep cooking!
  • #6
  • Comment by Epex
  • on: 20/03/2008
Thats not Jesus!!But it looks awesome :D
  • #7
  • Comment by Luke
  • on: 21/03/2008
Woah. I never imagined a pig's colon could expand so wide. It almost looks like a ham. Almost. (I really enjoyed the puns, by the way.)
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
GunnCat, I think the taste of this sausage must be very similar to any other smoked pork to-be-boiled sausage. You must have tons of equivalent in those mom-and-pops delicatessen run by people of German or Polish descent, altough I don't know the names of any specific sausage. Maybe a reader from New York could check out a jewish Delicattessen and ask them about a substitute with no pork.
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
Paul check your local Delicatessen for to-be-boiled sausages of the smoky persuasion, that should work.
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
Claudia, the wine bottle needs to be close at hand to avoid any burning, and it certainly won't catch fire, so usually I just tuck it in the back of my stove!
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
Christine, the less we think about what used to be in those tubes and sacks nature so niftly provided us to make sausages, the more appetite we'll have. Look for some replacement artisan smoked sausage in the states, there must be something very similar out there. This is no fancy food, just some plain local peasant sausage!
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
Theodore I will try to make a Vichyssoise for you, I know a girl from Vichy and will ask her!
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
Sirius thanks for visiting!
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
Luke, I think we'd be surprised what could fit in there. The other day they extracted a train station clock from a pig's rear.
  • #15
  • Comment by Martin
  • on: 26/03/2008
I'm intrigued that this recipe specifies using the green part of the leek, when so many others tell you to use the white and toss the green. I usually ignore such instructions: waste not, want not and I think the green has more flavour (if a bit more fibre too).
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 27/03/2008
Martin you are right, now if a recipe says you should discard the green, you can definitely use it in any stock, even the most simple vegetable stock. There is really quite a difference in taste between green and white and if you get the chance, it might be best to plan two different recipes to use both parts separately.
  • #17
  • Comment by Laura
  • on: 12/11/2008
The potato-leek dish reminds me a bit of the Irish colcannon, well which is made w/ kale but still...
  • FX's answer→ I think both are similar dishes but I'll check my Irish cookbooks!

  • #19
  • Comment by gaetano
  • on: 12/11/2008
Spectacular!  Beautiful and inspirational, a delightful sketch of a wonderfully executed dish.
  • FX's answer→ Gaetano, an article about an altogether more spectacular sausage from the Jesus' family is on the way...

  • #21
  • Comment by don siranni
  • on: 12/11/2008
Fx. which (soft) pork sausages qualify as "to be boiled",if all can might boiled ,what's the advantage over other means?
  • FX's answer→ Don, the way sausages are cooked depends much on the custom, but these Boutefas/Jesus/Saucisse au choux are filled with loose, uncooked flesh that would not be very nice to eat raw. You just need to cook them. Italians also have loads of salsiccie fresche for use in meat ragł, they would be too crumbly and not fermented enough to eat cold on a piece of bread.

I'd love to feature your recipe for papet vaudois as a guest blog on my blog on GenevaLunch.com, giving you full credit of course. Don't know if you'd be interested . . .

Thanks!

Jonell Galloway
  • #24
  • Comment by dominique
  • on: 24/10/2010
I am a Swiss woman living in the States, and this makes me all teary eyed. My mom used to make "saucisson vaudois" all the time, and this reminds me of it! Mmmmmhhhhh!

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