Monday, December 31, 2012

Sausages: A new frontier.

Sausage. It's a glorious food delivery system. Meat and spices delivered in a thin casing that holds the flavor in while cooking yet can be bitten through without much trouble. It can be a variety of meat, spices from every continent, and even fruit and vegetables. I don't know anyone who makes sausage so this is a path I must blaze alone but I think having the freedom to make anything I can imagine will pay dividends in the future. This post will detail my first experience with sausage making. I will share what I can do better next time, and what I learned as I went along.

(please read more after the break.)

I am using a Kitchenaide Artisan Stand Mixer with the attachable food mill. The attachable food mill can be used to grind meat, and then to stuff sausage. This machine constitutes most of my Christmas presents. According to the internet it is a good starter setup for sausage making. Pros should look elsewhere as this is not a specialty machine for meat grinding or sausage making.

I'm using a Boston Butt. It's the front shoulder of the hog; nice fat marbling and flavorful meat. My 4+ lb piece of meat cost around 10 dollars. The sausage casing was available at the butcher (Frank's Market, GH, MI) for 40 cents a foot.

Prep Work:
Making sausages works about how you think it would. I chunked up the pork into 1 inch chunks and soaked them in red wine. I soaked the casings in water to make sure they were hydrated and then rinsed the inside to get any salt or gross bits out. You can also look for leaks in the casing by moving water through the casing. With the pork chunked I placed it in the canadian freezer to get a little stiffness. I toasted the fennel, gathered the spices, and assembled the mixer.

Sausage Making:
Mistakes were made but I got it to work eventually. in 4 pounds of meat I had to clean the head of the device out twice. I think the meat could have been stiffer and improved things. 1 inch chunks should have been half in chunks to improve the way they fed. The grinder worked admirably. It sounded like the mixer was having a rough go at times but I think I learned lessons to help it work in the future. 1.) Stiffer meat might have ground easier. Meat has this connective tissue it's whitish-gray and it's very fiberous. When you make pulled pork this is what gelatinizes leaving flavorful tender meat. Sausage starts uncooked and thus still has firm connective tissue, this gummed up the works at times. 2.) 1 inch chunks should have been 3/4 or 1/2 inch chunks. It took a while but the grind was fine.

Sausage Stuffing:
Stuffing the sausages was pretty easy. Could have been a 2 man job but I got it done. Threading the casing onto the tube was easy enough. I learned not to tie the end because you may need to fart the sausage. Don't over fill it because popping it is a pain and a half. I was left with some good looking sausage when I was done.

The Recipe:
I roughly used this Emeril recipe. I say roughly because I didn't measure things as closely as I could have and I used a little extra fennel because I like a pronounced fennel flavor in my mild Italian sausage.

The Results:
Italian Sausage and pasta pair well with my Rosemary Saison. The spices are quite complementary and the resulting Italian flavors are sublime. The sausage has a good texture and the flavors are consistent with commercial examples. I am sold on home sausage making.

Home made sausage may not be worth the capital investment and effort for some, but for serious chefs you can't overlook the potential and tradition of the sausage.

No comments:

Post a Comment