When you have a Ph.D. in biology and work at a big university doing cancer research, making sausages might not seem like much of a career. But when the research money dries up and you’re getting hungry, you take another look at your options. That’s what prompted Bruce Aidells, who’d dabbled in cooking at a local lunch spot when he was in graduate school, to answer an ad for a chef.
Armed with an interest in food and a James Beard cookbook, Aidells stepped in front of the stove at Poulet, a popular restaurant and charcuterie not far from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., and began honing his sausage-making skills. As it turned out, he says, “I was a better cook than a scientist.” Eventually his recipes were published in the first of his many cookbooks, and he started his own business, Bruce Aidells Sausage Company, in 1983.
If making sausages sounds overwhelming, Aidells is the man to change your mind. “You only need a food processor,” he says reassuringly. Sure enough, the first chapter of Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book (Ten Speed Press, 2000) is about making sausages. In the recipe that follows, Aidells uses homemade sausage, but for cooks who don’t want to tackle that, a store-bought variety will work fine.
—By Jean Kressy