If you thought the sujuk had failed and I was going to let it slip away quietly, you were wrong. It has taken almost twice as long as recommended in my parents' recipe. Lundulph has already developed a theory about that.
I powdered it with the flour and paprika mixture a second time over a week ago and since then the sausages didn't really look like they were making any progress in the drying direction. Also I took three out and placed in the freezer in an attempt to test the concept of freeze drying. But yesterday I gave them a probing squeeze - one of them was practically rock solid! Time to eat!
And so, today being effectively Friday in an end of the working week sort of way, we took one out and stripped it of it's dusty clothing...
...and cut it up...
...before devouring it quickly together with a glass of the finest rakia we have. This is a nice, mature rakia, very smooth and oh so easy to drink.
The sujuk didn't taste exactly like the one my parents make, but then, they don't mix their mince - pure extra lean beef. I had 3 parts regular beef and 1 part lamb, so our sujuk had a slightly higher fat content. Also as you perhaps can see here
the middle is still soft and pink-ish.
Needless to say we gobbled up the whole thing. Very quickly too. There are seven sujuks left now. How are we going to manage?
Now to Lundulph's theory. The higher fat content may have increased the drying time - fat not really containing much water, it would be difficult for it to dry. Also possibly the horse shoe shape may have provided some delay - whatever fat could would have gathered at the bottom at the bend, which is still indeed the part of the other sujuks that's still a bit soft. If we make the sujuks straight and then alternately hang them from either end every week or so, this would perhaps help dry them quicker.
Of course a straight sujuk is called a lukanka (луканка) and I'll have to perform a mental struggle to overcome this change in concept. There, done.
I'm sure many Bulgarians will disagree with me - sujuk and lukanka are completely different things. Well, yes in a way - it's about the spice combination as well - you wouldn't put cumin in sujuk and you'd definitely put it in lukanka. But then every village in Bulgaria have their own spice mixture. So I can't say there are any definitive rules to follow.
The chilli flakes I used are our own thing - we put chillies in everything these days. They weren't noticeable at first, but after having eaten half a sujuk, there was a wonderful background heat so to speak, nicely enhanced by the rakia.
On the whole, I'll try to get hold of a small battery operated fan to put in the fridge when I make sujuk next year, to increase the air circulation and speed up the drying. Unless I work out something better. My parents used to hang their sujuk in the loft, but it helps to have proper winters which suck out every ounce of moisture of everything. I was thinking of a herb dryer, but I haven't found anything that would be remotely useful on the internet.
To sum up - get extra lean beef next time, or better yet, make my own mince, I have the attachment for the Kitchen Assistent. "We have the technology...". And as a reminder, here's what the sausages looked like the day I made them.