My neighbor Rick is really into Asian cooking and one of his favorite cookbooks is Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen. He took on the challenge of making her Roasted Cinnamon Sausage (Cha Que), with the goal of using it to craft one of his favorite takeout dishes—Vietnamese sandwiches, or bánh mì (and lucky for me, he made them in my kitchen).
To make the sausage, you first have to make the Multipurpose Meat Paste (or Giò)—recipe adapted from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 ¼ pounds, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons tapioca starch—Rick substituted corn starch
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
Slice each breast and thigh across the grain into ¼-inch-thick strips. Remove silvery strip of tendon from breasts. Keep any fat for richness but discard any cartilage or sinewy bits.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Add chicken and mix well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. The chicken will stiffen as it sits.
Break apart chicken mixture with a spoon. In batches, in a food processor, grind chicken until a smooth, stiff, and light pink paste forms, scraping down sides as needed (this takes a few minutes and the machine will get a workout, Nguyen writes). When finished, there should be no visible signs of chicken and the paste will have a light sheen.
Recipe makes about 2½ pounds and can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen for 2 months.
To make the Roasted Cinnamon Sausage (Cha que), you take about 2 cups of the paste and add 2½ teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix well to combine.
Rick changed up the recipe by cooking the paste in a loaf pan instead of spread on the back of a sheet pan. Prick holes in it, about 1 inch apart, to help it cook evenly.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until the top is dry and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely. The sausage will last for a week in the refrigerator.
To assemble the sandwiches, we toasted pieces of baguette and then brushed the bread with a mixture of fish sauce, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. We sliced the sausage thinly and then layered it on the bread with grated carrot, cilantro sprigs, and sliced jalapeños. I added a few dashes of Sriracha to mine. It was one of my favorite Vietnamese sandwiches and tasted so fresh.
Question is: Rick , when are we having them again?