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What are Chipolatas?

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Q. What are chipolatas?

A. In the United States, chipolatas are small Italian sausages made of coarsely ground pork and flavored with thyme, chives, coriander, and cloves, and sometimes red pepper flakes. In Britain, the name is often used more broadly to refer to any small sausage, but those in the know consider it to be a small, coarse pork sausage, generally including rice, and stuffed in a natural casing.

In France, it is essentially the same thing, although perhaps without the rice. When something is served à la chipolata, it generally consists of a dish of game, poultry, meat, or eggs garnished with braised chestnuts, small glazed onions, glazed carrots, sautéed mushrooms, blanched and fried pieces of bacon, and fried chipolatas, which may all be bound up in a Madeira wine sauce.

In Italy, where the name originated, it is an onion. Well, technically not — the word cipolla is onion. And an onion stew that was served at least 350 years ago that was called cipollata sometimes or always included sausages, and it is likely that non-Italians (particularly the French) paid more attention to the sausages than the onions and gave the name of the dish to the sausages. Apparently the Italians were too polite to correct their guests.

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