Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

polony a sausage known throughout Europe and N. America. In England it is made of a pork and beef mixture, highly seasoned to suit various regional tastes. Other meats can be used. The mixture was formerly encased in a natural skin (‘weasand’, i.e. the gullet), but is now usually presented in an artificial skin; in either event the skin is dyed scarlet or pinkish-red. The sausage is hot smoked and cooked in water.

Polonies appear so often in early English cookery books, from the 17th century onwards, as to give the impression that they were for a long time the best-known sausages in England. The spelling varied. Rabisha (1682) had a recipe ‘To Make Polony Sassages to keep all the year’. Hannah Glasse (1747) had Belony, but in later editions of her book this was changed to Bolognia. The name is usually said to derive from boloney, a corruption of Bologna, the city which has long produced sausages which were much admired and copied outside Italy (see mortadella); but some suppose that it came from Polonia, the old name for Poland, also an area with a strong sausage-making tradition.