[tweetmeme] Everyone has a list. I have one. A list that as of last weekend had another dot-point struck from it with gay abandon. I didn’t finally get to meet life-long idol – little Johnny Howard – with those eyebrows so luscious and full. Nor did I run naked down Bourke Street screaming, “I’m free!”. No, as interesting and highly disturbing as both those ambitions may appear, my exploits over the weekend were equal parts delicious and awesome. You see, I made sausages!
I have had this one on my list for some time. One above home curing and one down from making my own jam. As you can see, my list of ambitions reads like that of an 80 year old grandmother. Not that there is anything wrong with being an 80 year old grandmother of course.
Moving on. Myself and a friend decided on producing two different sausages. Pork, red wine & garlic and a spicy Italian (pork, fennel, chilli, basil et cetera). Wanting to source the best meat possible and obtain natural hog casings, I paid my local butcher, T.O.M.S., a visit. With organic pork and hog casing in tow it was time to head home and start the long, but enjoyable task of preparing the sausages. The process went something like this:
Meat preparation – I was lucky enough to obtain some of the pork trim (belly, shoulder and other bits and pieces). I say lucky because it saved us some time that would otherwise have been spent trimming the meat off of the pork shoulder. The trim would also provide a more varied texture and taste to the finished sausage, and was $10 p/kilo cheaper. The trim was cubed and carefully removed of all sinew ready for marination.
Marination – with the meat trimmed, it was time to add the flavour. Half the mixture was mixed with freshly minced garlic, salt and pepper, covered then placed in the refrigerator overnight. The other portion was combined with lightly toasted and crushed fennel and coriander seed, chilli flakes, cajun pepper, paprika, fresh basil and oregano, salt and pepper and again placed in the refrigerator.
Grinding – the meat was removed from the fridge after 24 hours and passed through the coarse die of the grinder. It was then passed a second time through the fine die to obtain a more even texture. We did this for two reasons. Firstly because we found that when passing the meat through the fine die first, the fat would catch, causing the meat to ‘smear’. This smearing can result in a grainy, and subsequently inferior tasting, sausage. Secondly, we actually found this double-handling sped up the process by allowing the meat to pass through the grinder at a faster rate.
Primary Bind – now the meat was ground, it was time to quickly, but thoroughly mix the mince to obtain what is known as the primary bind. This allows the proteins to develop in the meat and results in a mixture that binds easily and makes for a more even consistency within the sausage. This is similar to kneading dough and working the gluten in flour. At this stage, a half cup of good quality red wine was added to the red wine and garlic sausage mixture and an eighth of a cup of red wine vinegar and some water to the spicy Italian.
Stuffing – Now to the fun bit. A length of intestine was carefully fed onto the sausage attachment and the mince was stuffed evenly and slowly. I found this step to be quite a bit easier than first thought and was luckily successful with my first, and ever subsequent attempt thereafter. Maybe this was just beginner’s luck. Once the casings were stuffed, the sausages were tied by pinching then twisting the first link, pinching but not twisting the second link, then finally pinching and twisting (in the same direction as the first twist) the third link. This action will ensure that the second link is twisted along with the third, saving time in the process.
Resting – once all of the sausages were stuffed and tied, the sausages were refrigerated overnight ready for dinner the following evening.
Eating – I don’t need to explain this bit, do I? The end result was well worth all the effort. Far better than anything you’ll find in any supermarket and definitely as good as some butchers’ sausages, I can’t wait to make my next batch.
So if you have a spare weekend, and are looking for something to do, why not give sausages a go? If you do, be sure to drop me a line and let me know how you got along.