Tico grinds out British ‘bangers’

July 14, 2011

The British are known for their weird sense of humor. When I was a kid, we loved to chant this rhyme that sent us into peals of laughter. It was particularly funny when Mother was cooking sausages known as “bangers” for lunch:

The sausage was a fat one,

The outside was the skin,

The inside was the mystery

Of a little dog named Jim.

 

Not to worry, Claudio Pacheco’s sausages are no mystery. He uses ground pork and only pork, purchased from a butcher close to San José’s Central Market.

For Pacheco, making these delicious bangers is a hobby that has blossomed into a small business.

“I’d never want to go commercial,” says Pacheco, who sends emails to a list of banger devotees and coordinates a pickup point once every two or three weeks.

A Tico, Pacheco lived and worked for seven years in England, where he met his wife, Sheila, who until her recent retirement worked as vice consul at the British Embassy in San José.

Pacheco, who loves to cook, decided to make his own sausages when he couldn’t satisfy his craving for a plate of traditional English bangers and mash.

“I loved all kinds of British pub food,” Pacheco says. “Nevertheless, when I lived in England I often craved gallo pinto (a rice and beans dish) and other Tico specialties such as sopa de mondongo (tripe soup) and ceviche.” He adds with a laugh, “I was once sent some cilantro, which was impossible to find in England, but when it arrived it was a smelly, mushy mess.”

Pacheco has been using the same sausage recipe since 1986. He won’t divulge all his secrets, but says it consists of prime minced pork, egg and bread crumbs for binding, and spices.

“For the casings, I buy pig’s tripe from the same butcher where I get my pork. This needs cleaning and requires many washings – tedious and time-consuming work,” he says.

The sausage mixture is then stuffed into the casing with a manual stuffer, and comes out in one long, continuous string, which is then twisted into link size and cut into individual sausages.

Pacheco calls himself a “cravings cook” and also makes bread, relish and Scotch eggs – hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat. However, the eggs are very time-consuming to make, and he no longer sells them.

Every January, Pacheco turns his talents north of England to Scotland. No “Burn’s Night Supper,” a popular annual event at the Costa Rica Country Club, is complete without his haggis. The traditional Scottish variety is made from leftover offal, liver, heart, lungs, oatmeal and suet; this mixture is stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and served with “neeps and tatties” (mashed turnips and potatoes) and washed down with a dram or two of whiskey. Pacheco admits he cheats when it comes to the rather unpleasant ingredients and uses a North American recipe he found.

“Even the Scots at the supper appear to have no complaints with my variety served as an appetizer with neeps – specially grown by a Cartago farmer – tatties and a dram of malt whiskey,” he says.

However, the ceremonial haggis that is escorted in by a bagpipe player at the supper is the real thing, and comes in a sheep’s stomach.

“It’s a very stinky business cleaning it. My family makes a quick getaway when I start,” the cook says with a smile.

Thanks to Pacheco, when the esteemed guests address the “beastie” with quotes from Robert Burns – a tradition at every Burn’s Supper – they have the genuine article.

To order some of Pacheco’s bangers (₡5,000/$10 per kilo), e-mail him at pacheco.claudio@gmail.com or call him at 8875-1394 or 2224-4325.

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