Loukaniko / Loukanika Overview:
In Greek, the term Loukanika or Loukaniko (Loukániko ) is often used to describe sausages in general – the same way the term “chorizo” defines most sausages in Latin America. In modern culinary circles; however, most butchers, restaurants and retailers have popularized a specific type of Loukaniko that is made of three common ingredients: pork/lamb, orange zest and fennel seeds. This variety will be the primary topic of this article.
It is widely believed that Loukaniko originated from an Italian sausage called Lucanica which hailed from Lucania, a long ago fallen region of southern Italy. This true old-world sausage emerged in literature around the 4th century and is credited as being the precursor to such sausages as the Portuguese linguiça, the Bulgaria loukanka and the Latin American/Philippine longaniza. Although the Greeks would recognize either Loukaniko or Loukanika, they are essentially the same sausage.
Loukaniko, like most ancient sausages, originated from a need to utilize the entire animal after butchering. In this case, pigs were the most common animal found on farms so the main ingredient for Loukaniko was usually pork, although you’ll often see lamb used as well. Far back in history you’ll find most references to Loukaniko as being a smoked or air cured sausage, but more recently, it has emerged among home sausage makers as a fresh sausage because the orange peel and spices tend to give it a unique flavor when cooked fresh.
Loukaniko ingredients can vary depending on the chef, the region where the chef came from or, often times, whatever is readily available. The most common ingredients though include a pork and lamb mixture, orange zest, garlic, coriander, salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano. Depending on the author of the cookbook, you will also see variants where a dry white wine is used in the mix or even a red wine which may be included as a marinade the night before stuffing the sausage.
The following is a link on how to make Loukaniko from scratch.
Loukaniko is a versatile sausage. In Greece, you’ll often find it included as an appetizer served sliced and fried along side other appetizers or “meze”, as they are called. It can also be found cooked within a main dish as in this recipe courtesy of SouvlakiForTheSoul.
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Photo courtesy of SouvlakiForTheSoul