Malta sausage

This Simple Food Staple is a Beloved Must-Eat in Malta…And Found Everywhere

Written by Albert Fenech
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Many might think that sausage (bangers) in Malta is a favourite dish because of the island’s British occupation for 160 years, but that’s not entirely true. Maltese have been making sausages for centuries as a basic foodstuff for the working class and poor.

Visit any restaurant, café or butcher and you’ll find these sovoury links. If you don’t, highly recommend you turn on your heels and leave.

I once read a survey that established the basic and most-loved foodstuffs by the inhabitants of Malta as ftira (a round and crusty-baked bread in a rounded coil with a hole in the middle; gbejniet (round cheeselettes made from goat milk); and zalzett tal-Malti, aka Maltese sausages.

So beloved are Maltese sausages that there have even been rumblings in recent years to create (July 30) Sausage Day in Malta. Whether or not it sticks is of no matter because as far Maltese are concerned—every day is sausage day!

Malta
Traditional flatbread called ftira can be topped with Maltese ingredients and is served all over Gozo and Malta. (Photo from https://www.amaltesemouthful.com/)

 

What’s a Banger?

During my lengthy time living in England, sausages, in the UK called bangers, were one of my favourites – particularly bangers ‘n chips (French fries) or bangers ‘n mash (mashed potatoes), which were a once-a-week meal, at least. Not once did I ever say to myself, “Oh no – not again!” I loved them then, and still do.

If you’re wondering where the nickname bangers comes from, let me help. According to my information, when meat throughout Britain was scarce due to war, somebody (thank you, whoever you are) came up with the bright idea of mashing pork or beef with other ingredients and stuffing it into animal skins, which were then knotted, wound and cut to a length of about eight to ten centimetres.

When the stretched-filled skins were knotted, they emitted a little “bang” – hence the nickname.

Anatomy of a Maltese Sausage

While sausages are an uncomplicated dish to eat, they are not quite as easy to manufacture due to the careful and patient work involved.

Historically, the basic filling was scraps of discarded raw meat or leftovers which, rather than being thrown away, were carefully minced and combined with other ingredients such as breadcrumbs, black ground pepper, coriander seeds, sea-salt, chopped parsley as well as a substantial amount of chopped or crushed garlic.

They can be smoked, grilled, on pizza, in pasta sauce, and cooked in numerous other ways.  The sky’s the sausage limit!

A Maltese sausage has four main characteristics:

  • It can be made from minced pork, beef, lamb, rabbit or chicken although pork and beef are the most popular
  • The sausages, either whole, sliced, mashed etc may be cooked in every manner possible – fried, grilled, roasted, barbequed, boiled, stewed, used in soups, as sausage rolls, with any manner of vegetables, pasta, meat puddings and any other form of cooking you can imagine
  • Although patience is required in their making, sausages are a very affordable breakfast/lunch/dinner dish, are filling, and never boring
  • You can find them in every butcher shop and supermarket, and on restaurant and café menus throughout Malta and Gozo

 

Malta
I suggest you use plenty of garlic and parsley when making Malta sausages at home 

 

My Recipe

 I follow these contents but have added my own measures regarding garlic cloves and parsley. I love the strong taste that loads of garlic and parsley bring and do not restrain my use.

2kg of finely ground meat of your choice

1kg of dry and ground white breadcrumbs

30gms of ground black pepper

15 to 30gms of crunched coriander seeds

30 to 55gms of sea salt

10 minced garlic cloves

Finely chopped parsley

Garlic cloves

Mix ‘n Mash

The more the contents are thoroughly mixed and mashed, the better. The intricate process of stuffing the mixture into meat skins and then cutting to size requires patience.

Nowadays, updated inventions such as sausage stuffer attachments or a sausage machine make things easier and take out most of the hassle. However, old-timers will shun these and insist on traditional ways, using a funnel to squeeze the meat mix into the skin, and leaving additional skin to cut off the sausages (the banger effect), which are knotted to produce individual sausages, then hung out to air dry.

Malta sausage
Try Malta sausages everywhere, including at Is-Suq-Tal-Belt food market in Valetta  (Photo from https://www.facebook.com/suqtalbelt)

 

Where to Try Maltese Sausage?

As I mentioned, you should be able to try them anywhere! But here are some suggestions to whet your appetite:

-A Maltese heritage site, Is-Suq Tal-Belt is a food hall and covered market in Valletta

-La Pira is a family-run Maltese restaurant with sausage on the menu and recipes on the website

-The Maltese Tasting Menu at Ta Marija is a good teaser of the island’s fantastic food specialties

-Check out a local farmers’ markets in various villages around Malta

-Eat your way around Valletta on a food tour

 

***

BeSeeingYou In: Malta

Good to Know: Anywhere you go in Malta you’re bound to find sausage on the menu

WOW! Factor: Most traditional Maltese dishes are strongly influenced by Provencal cuisine, not Italian cuisine

Tip:  Buy from a butcher and take home to your apartment or villa rental for a Maltese summer BBQ

***

Author bio: Albert Fenech

Email: salina46@gmail.com

Read more travel inspiration at BeSeeingYou

 

Albert Fenech
Born in 1946, Albert Fenech’s family took up UK residence in 1954 where he spent his boyhood and youth before temporarily returning to Malta between 1957 and 1959 and then coming back to Malta permanently in 1965. He spent eight years as a full-time journalist with “The Times of Malta” before taking up a career in HR Management and Administration with a leading construction company building the Benghazi Hospital in Libya, later with Malta Insurance Brokers, Malta’s leading insurance Broker and finally STMicroelectronics Malta, employing 3,000 employees and Malta’s leading industrial manufacturer. Throughout he actively pursued freelance journalism and broadcasting for various media outlets covering social issues, current affairs, sports and travel. He was Publications Editor for the Malta Football Association for 25 years and has written for a number of publications both in Malta and overseas, as well as publishing two e-books.

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