Bockwurst is a classic German sausage and, like all sausages, many different recipes and stories of origins exist. This white, emulsified sausage is traditionally made from pork and veal and is cooked by poaching. This sausage is very similar to weisswurst and the two are often confused.
Let’s take a closer look at this sausage, compare a few recipes and I’ll show you how I make mine.
What is Bockwurst
I spent a lot of time going down rabbit holes to figure out the history, recipe and cooking technique for this sausage. Like all things sausage, the process was messy.
Let’s start with the name of “Bock” which is a reference to a style of beer. Some people say the name is a result of:
- Using bock beer as an ingredient
- Poaching the sausage in bock beer
- Making and serving the sausage at the celebratory times when bock beer was served.
I’m am going with the last explanation by process of elimination.
The white color of this sausage is one of its defining characteristics. Bock is a dark style beer and I would not add a dark beer, or use a dark beer to poach, a sausage that I want to be as white as possible.
I usually go with the recipes from Rytec Kutas’ classic text, Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing, when I want to learn how a particular sausage ought to be made. Here are the ingredients Rytec suggests for bockwurst but scaled down to a five pound batch.
Bockwurst Ingredients for 5 Pounds of Sausage (Rytec Kutas)
- 3.5 pounds pork shoulder and trimmings
- 1.5 pounds veal
- 1/2 pint whole milk
- 1 fresh whole egg
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon powdered dextrose
- 1/2 tablespoon mace
- 1/2 tablespoon ground celery
- 1/2 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 3 pieces chopped parsley
- 3 pieces chopped green onions
I didn’t like that the Kutas recipe was vague on the amount of parsley and green onions so I checked Bruce Aidells’s classic, Complete Sausage Book, to see what he suggested. For a four pound batch of sausage Bruce suggests using:
- 1/2 cup of finely chopped leeks or onions that have been sauteed in butter for 10 minutes.
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions or chives
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
The other ingredients provided by Bruce are pretty similar to the above recipe with the exception that he uses a little less veal and makes up the difference with ground, skin on, chicken thighs.
I also checked Len Poli’s recipe and saw that it just used a little parsley, 1 tablespoon of dried, and did not include chopped onions of any kind.
I wanted you to have the recipes above because if you want to make the classic sausage then that is what you should use. When I was playing around in the kitchen I wanted to make my own version of a Bockwurst so I changed things up a little.
How to Make Bockwurst
David’s Turkey Bockwurst Recipe
- 1 pound ground turkey (85% lean)
- 1/2 pound fatty fresh ground pork
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon mace
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Yeah, yeah…I should have chopped up a bunch of parsley and green onions. I couldn’t be bothered. That is what is great about sausage; you can do whatever you want!
Combine all of the ingredients and blend until a smooth paste is formed. You can use a spoon but a stand mixer with the paddle attachment does a better job in less time (2 minutes).
Put the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the fats chill and the flavors meld.
Stuff the mixture into casings making 6 inch links.
Add the links to a pot of 170F water and allow the sausages to poach for about 20 minutes. The sausages will want to float so you will need to weigh them down.
Because I was using turkey the sausages hd to poach until they reached an internal temperature of 165F. If you are making the traditional recipe with pork and veal then the sausages are poached to an internal temperature of 150F.
When the sausage reaches the target internal temperature remove them from the poaching liquid and add them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Let the sausages cool for about 5 minutes and then move them to the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Of course, there is nothing stopping you from slicing these open right away and digging into some great eats!
A Note About the Cooking Method
When I was researching this sausage I saw quite a few “Internet Specials” that state that this is a smoked or grilled sausage. While you certainly can smoke or grill this sausage if you want, I do believe the proper method of cooking is to poach.
A defining characteristic of this sausage is how white it is. Smoking or grilling would alter the color completely.
It is not a big deal and I am all for breaking traditions…just wanted to share my take on things.
A Note About the Sausage Casing
Most people use the readily available 32 mm hog casings when they make this sausage. Rytec Kutas specifies that this sausage should be stuffed into a 24-26 mm lamb casing. Using the 24-26 mm lamb casing will make this sausage look like a long white hot dog and, given Kutas’ expertise in the field, I suspect this is the authentic way of casing bockwurst.
Because the sausage is poached and then chilled the casing does not have the same great crunch or snap that you get with a sausage like knackwurst. While the casing is perfectly edible on this sausage it can be a bit chewy and as a result some people prefer to remove the casing before eating.
Are Bockwurst and Weisswurst the Same Sausage?
Since one of the defining characteristics of bockwurst is the whiteness of the sausage it leads to some confusion with another white sausage, weisswurst. In fact, the name “weisswurst” literally means “white sausage”. I have seen several online sources, including one sausage producer, that use the terms “bockwurst” and “weisswurst” interchangeably.
The two sausages are extremely similar in that they are white sausages containing parsley and lemon but are, in my opinion, different. The analogy I use for these sausages is that they are like Golden Retrievers. A Golden bred for the show ring and a Golden bred for working as a retriever are two completely different animals.
In Charcuterie, by Ruhlman and Polcyn, weisswurst is defined as a sausage “in which the fat equals 50 percent of the total meat and water” which is a considerably higher fat content than any bockwurst recipe that I have seen. Additionally, both Rytek Kutas and Len Poli list the two sausages as different and provide a recipe for each. FYI..here is Len Poli’s weisswurst recipe.