There’s Cabbage in My Sausage

It’s taken me a few tries, but Saucisse aux choux has finally grown on me. With cabbage making up about 40 percent of the ingredients, this Swiss sausage from Vaud has a strong flavor. It also has a relatively soft texture, so the filling nearly squeezes out of the casing when you slice it. I know this all doesn’t sound very appetizing, but now that I’ve figured out the right way to prepare it, I’ve learned to enjoy the taste of cabbage sausage, which has a long history in Switzerland.

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The legend of Saucisse aux choux dates back to 879 when a German emperor visited Vaud. Without enough meat to serve their distinguished guest, the locals added some cabbage to the sausage. Today, the cabbage sausage is still popular in Switzerland, earning a protected status—Indication géographique protégée (IGP)—in 2004.

A typical way to eat the sausage, which we’ve tried several times, is steamed with a local white wine over a bed of potatoes and leeks. Known as Papet Vaudois, it’s extremely easy to make. For the Betty Bossi recipe I’ve been using, I just substitute dairy-free margarine for the butter.

Over the weekend, I tried a new interpretation of Papet Vaudois, also from Betty Bossi. The traditional cabbage sausage recipe is reinvented as tarte flambée (French), also known as flammkuchen (German). Flammkuchen is an Alsaltian-style thin crust pizza, most typically topped with crème fraîche, onions and lardons. Instead of the usual toppings, I used soy cream (Migros Soja Line Schlagcrème), thinly sliced potatoes, green onions and crumbled Saucisse aux choux.

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For the crust, I used my go-to Better Crocker pizza dough recipe and just rolled it extra thin. The flammkuchen recipe calls for 180 grams of crème fraîche, but I used much less, spreading a thinner layer across the dough in hopes it wouldn’t ooze over the edges.

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I often make pizza at home, instead using some finely grated extra-firm tofu in place of the cheese. While it absolutely isn’t the same, the finished product looks like cheese and provides some added protein. This Flammkuchen recipe also has the appearance of cheese, even though it’s just very thinly sliced potato layered over soy cream.

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Next time I make flammkuchen with potatoes, I’ll add some sliced ham, red onions and rosemary. If you happen to make one of these at home, please let me know how it turns out!

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Coming Home for Lunch: Bread & Sausage

Students of all ages at Swiss public schools generally come home for about 2 hours to eat lunch. As a “mère au foyer” or stay-at-home mom, I prepare about 21 meals per week, not including snacks. As a working mom in the United States I numbered about 13 meals. While I sometimes complain about having to cook, I feel very lucky to be spending more time with my boys.

In many ways, this lunchtime routine will be ideal for my food-allergic son. When he starts school, his lunch will be safe because I’ll still prepare everything he eats. Of course, I’ll need to pack along an allergy-friendly cupcake when there’s a birthday party in his class. At the same time, I won’t have to pack an entire meal or worry about friends in the cafeteria offering him food he can’t have.

With all this meal preparation, I’m always looking for quick allergy-friendly meals I can serve at lunch. For example, bread and sausage is a typical street food in Switzerland, and a super fast meal I can make for hungry kids. Most recently, I saw street vendors selling bread and sausage with mustard at the finish lines of my recent running races, both in Basel and Lucerne.

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At Coop, I can buy allergy-friendly baguettes and sausages without milk, eggs and nuts (Please note: the baguette contains gluten and traces of sesame). The “Saucisse à rôtir de campagne,” which I loosely translate as “country sausage for roasting,” reminds me of bratwurst from home in Minnesota.

After I walked the boys home from school yesterday, we celebrated the beginning of our weekend with a bread and sausage lunch. I always try to savor our lunchtime moments, especially on Fridays when we talk about the past school week and make plans for the weekend. When I’m feeling cranky and frustrated amidst all the chaos and cooking and cleaning, I have to remember that my little critters are growing so fast, and we won’t always have this special lunchtime together.

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What do you serve your kids for lunch? If you have any quick and allergy-friendly ideas for us and others, please share them below. Bon week-end!

Top 5 Swiss Processed Meats

Processed meat” sounds really sterile and gross, doesn’t it? Generally, this term refers to meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. For those of you like us that still eat processed meats, I want to share my Top 5 list of dairy, egg and nut-free options (similar to my list of allergy-friendly Swiss snacks).

I’ve spent a lot of time reading labels on meat products in search of my son’s allergens. As such, I’m hoping this information might be useful to someone out there, either living in Switzerland with allergies or traveling here and looking for a quick and safe meal from the grocery store.

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Please keep in mind though… A recent study in Europe links processed meat with “early death.” Yet, people have been eating this stuff for generations, right? How bad could it be? As always, my non-medical opinion is “everything in moderation.” Plus, my kids really like hot dogs…

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s my short list of allergy-friendly, Swiss processed meats. I purchased all of the products shown below at Coop because I find its food labels easier to read in comparison to other stores.

1. Cervelas – Apparently, the Swiss consider Cervelas (or Cervelat in German-speaking Switzerland) to be their national sausage. Made with a mixture of pork and beef, I think these fat, little sausages taste a little like hot dogs. People eat it raw or cooked. One of my Swiss cookbooks has a recipe for raw cervelas and cheese salad—hunks of sausage and Appenzell cheese mixed with sliced onions and served on a bed of lettuce leaves. And, as an aside, cervelas almost disappeared in the last decade over fears of mad cow disease from the Brazilian cow intestines.

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2. Viande séchée extra fine: More commonly known by its German name of Bündnerfleisch, these are thin slices of beef dried for about 10-15 weeks in the alpine air. I grew up eating dried beef in rural Minnesota, so this reminds me of it—minus the alpine air, of course. My mother served it for dinner in a white sauce served over toast, which you may know as “Chipped Beef on Toast” or by its other less flattering title, “Sh*t on a Shingle.” Today, I use Bündnerfleisch for making quick after-school sandwiches for my boys.

Please note: Some of these dried beef options (e.g., the Appenzell versions) contain lactose, but do not have a clearly marked allergy label like other Coop-brand products. I contacted Coop’s customer service department and received confirmation that it will be updating the labels for this product as soon as possible.

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3. Saucisses de Vienne or Wienerli: As I mentioned, my boys like hot dogs. In the United States, however, a lot of them contain milk. My husband came across these at our local Coop in the last month or so. Now, we use them as a quick meal when we don’t have a lot of time to cook.

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4. Bâton du Maréchal (a.k.a. Marschallstab): We buy several different kinds of the Coop-brand dry sausages, including this one—the Gruyères Bâton du Maréchal. Apparently this long, narrow sausage gets its name from the baton of a Marshal, a person of the highest military rank. We typically slice it up for breakfast.

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5. Prosciutto and bacon: These two aren’t terribly groundbreaking suggestions, but it’s been a relief to easily find these products without my son’s allergens, both at Coop and at Migros.

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I never thought I would ever have a reason to write a boring blog post about Swiss processed meats and their ingredients! Yet, you can routinely find me reading food labels on these products in the aisles of a grocery store, just to make sure they’re safe. Hopefully someone out there can benefit from my informal research on processed meats. Please remember though, labels can (and do) change, so always check and double-check ingredient lists and allergy warnings. It’s something my husband and I are both constantly reminding each other…

Please note: As always, this is not a sponsored post. I have not been compensated. These are my independent opinions.

If there’s an allergy-friendly, Swiss processed meat out there we haven’t tried yet (especially a traditional one), please leave a comment below or send an email to dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com. Bon week-end!

There’s Milk in the Sausage?

Dry-cured sausages at our neighborhood grocer

While there are many obvious dairy products to avoid when you have a milk allergy (e.g., butter, cheese and ice cream), some are not as obvious (e.g., sausage and hot dogs). Being in Switzerland, sausage is everywhere, particularly on the German side of the country. Luckily we’ve found some good dairy-free options, including dry-cured salamis and fresh sausages.

Nevertheless, I got into an argument with my husband on Sunday morning over the sausage he prepared for breakfast. He was getting ready to serve it without having done a Google Translate of its ingredients. As I typed in the French ingredient list, the one that caused alarm was delta-gluconolactone. Every time I see an ingredient with “lact” in the word, I assume it’s dangerous for my milk-allergic son.

We ended up skipping the sausage for him, to be on the safe side, until we could do more research. Especially because my initial Internet search found some conflicting evidence. Upon further review, we discovered that delta-gluconolactone (a.k.a., glucono delta-lactone) is not a milk product. So, the sausage turned out to be completely safe.

We knew it would take more time to review food labels here in Switzerland, given the four official languages. However, many of the challenges we face deciphering these labels are similar to those we had back in the United States. Milk and milk proteins can be hidden in lots of foods. For this reason—and because of my son’s other allergens, we generally prepare foods with short or no ingredient lists. Luckily, we’re able to make an exception for Swiss sausage.

For more information about “hidden sources of milk,” check out FAAN’s milk allergen information. Go Dairy Free also has a more complete Dairy Ingredient List. You’ll notice that glucono delta-lactone shows up under the heading, “Surprisingly Dairy Free.”