Granted, these sausages are never going to fall under the ‘health food’ category, but we all need a naughty-but-nice foodie treat every now and then. And sucuk really is a foodie treat.
Whenever we’re doing the food shopping around Fethiye Fish Market or at our local butchers, it’s always a comforting sight to see the butchers’ homemade sucuk hanging from hooks outside the shops.
What Makes A Good Sucuk Turkish Sausage?
Because sucuk is so popular in Turkey, it’s available in many food shops and all supermarkets. And, as far as we’re concerned, when it comes to this product, you get what you pay for.
In Turkey, meat isn’t cheap. If your sucuk is cheap, there’s probably lots of other ingredients in there to pad it out. You’ll get a soft, squashy texture and not much pungency to the flavour. A good quality Turkish sausage should have strong flavour – and a decent percentage of meat content.
So, if you’re buying it from the supermarket, look for the bigger, more famous brands that are either pre-packed on the shelves or behind the deli counter.
The province of Afyonkarahisar is famous for producing sucuk. So, if you see that for sale, it should be decent quality. Look for the ‘Cumhuriyet’ label. You can even buy döner kebab in Afyon that is made from sucuk!
For us, we love to shop local and we buy homemade Turkish sausage from our local butcher. He makes a regular spicy sucuk and also a hot ‘n’ spicy version which has added chilli. Of, course, that’s our sausage of choice.
The longer the sucuk hangs, the more firm it gets. One time, we bought some from our butcher and he’d only just put it on display. He told us to hang it for a few more days before we ate it to get the best flavour and texture. Within a few days, we had a super tasty, firm spicy sausage.
So, for us, we like homemade, lots of flavour and a firm texture. Not so hard that it feels like you’re slicing through a brick. Just a little bit of give.
A good sucuk needs a good ratio of meat, fat and spices. In Turkey, beef is the meat that is traditionally used to make it.
Sucuk is eaten around the Balkans and Central Asia and in Central Asian countries, horse meat will sometimes be used.
And we have also had deve sucuk. This is made from camel meat and – as you might expect – we had this when Fethiye hosted a traditional camel wrestling event.
Sucuk Recipes – What To Do With Your Spicy Bounty
So, if you’re now tempted to make a sucuk purchase (you can find some on Amazon) and enjoy the juicy texture and spicy flavours, how best can you make use of it?
There are lots of great traditional dishes that include Turkish sausage in the recipe. We make these at home a lot – and we also use sucuk as a substitute when recipes call for chorizo or similar sausages.
The Breakfast Table
If you’re going the full monty and enjoying a leisurely Turkish village breakfast, it’s a disappointment if Turkish sausage doesn’t make an appearance. Look out for circular slices of it sitting on top of your fried eggs.
This is sucuklu yumurta and is also a satisfying brunch dish in its own right when served with fresh crusty bread.
There are lots of traditional fillings for tost – the ubiquitous Turkish toastie – and, combined with cheese and tomato, sucuk is one of those fillings. Sucuklu tost is an absolute classic.
Ekmek arası sucuk – a good old sausage sandwich – takes some beating when that’s what you’re in the mood for. Turks love to thrown some vertically sliced sucuk on the barbecue and then place it between crusty bread. Dollop some homemade ketchup over it – divine.
Oh, and let’s not forget the famous Çeşme Kumrusu. Sucuk is just one of a few ingredients that combines to make up the fillings of this must-try crusty cob.
Use It As A Topping
If you love the spicy flavours and the texture of sucuk, as you might imagine, slices of it make a perfect topping.
Make your own Turkish pide at home and top it with thin slices of Turkish sausage. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about the sight and sound of sizzling sucuk flavouring your pide base. What would be your preference – with cheese or without cheese?
This is where we also use sucuk as a substitute. If we make our own pizza, we’ll use Turkish sausage rather than pepperoni as a topping. And add a sprinkling of peppers and sliced onion, too.
In A Casserole
Sucuk güveç – slow cooked sausage in a clay pot makes for a really flavoursome Mediterranean casserole.
This time, rather than thinly slicing the sausage, we cut it into meaty chunks so that it keeps its shape and has a more robust texture. The oils from the sucuk flavour your casserole sauce as it cooks.
Sucuk With Beans
Let’s go traditionally Turkish first: Kuru fasulye. You can enjoy kuru fasulye just as it is or you can add meat. Common meats to add are chicken, lamb, beef or – and you can just imagine how delicious this combo is – sucuklu kuru fasulye!
In springtime when broad beans are in season, we like to buy the baby ones and serve them with Turkish sausage – sucuklu bakla. When the beans are still young, you don’t even need to pod them.
With Seasonal Foods
As well as broad beans, Turkish sausage goes well with lots of other seasonal ingredients. In autumn, the Saffron Milk Cap Mushroom makes an appearance. In Spain, this mushroom is paired with chorizo so we do the same with sucuk.
Sucuk and çıntar mushroom are a perfect match for each other. Çıntar and sprouts
And then there’s the vegetable that people tend to have a love hate relationship with. We’re in the love camp, these days!
During the winter months when Brussels sprouts and chestnuts are in season, saute them with sucuk for a tasty lunch. Sauteed Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and sucuk – another perfect combination.
Of course, when we’re at home, we like to experiment with other sucuk recipes. It goes really well in pasta dishes. Saute some and mix it into domatesli bulgur pilaf, serve it with chickpeas.
And, speaking of chickpeas, a current fashion in the restaurants around Fethiye is to make hummus and then serve it as hot meze, topped with sizzling sucuk or pastırma; Turkey’s other much loved cured beef.
As you can guess, we’re huge fans of a good quality Turkish sausage and its versatility. It’s rare there isn’t one in our fridge – if the butcher hasn’t told us to hang it for a few more days, that is! If you venture into the world of sucuk, we hope you find some inspiration with the recipe ideas in this article.