Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sausage making marathon

 I just spent the last two days learning to make sausages.  Well, I say learning when in fact it's more like floundering.  But we did it.  One small 25lb leg of pork is now sausages.

I'm exhausted.

And elated.

But in the end I learned a lot about meat, equipment, sausage making and myself.  I also learned that no matter how sexual or sensual food is, there is nothing quite so pornographic as stuffing your own sausage. And because I want this to be an all ages friendly blog, I'm not describing that part any further.  *shudders*.

One thing I learned about myself is that I don't enjoy a meaty sausage (stop snickering, I'm serious).  I like there to be a little bit of filler (okay, I'll join you in a snicker) in the sausage, like bread crumbs.  So I experimented with 5lb batches until I got something that I really enjoyed.  I also played around with what order we add the spices, how much liquid, what ingredients that sort of thing.

Being a pork leg, it was rather lean, so I ran out of fat really quickly.  But I had some beef suet in the freezer that I made do.

I also learned that the hand grinder and sausage stuffer I picked up at (brace yourself) Walmart completely sucks!  It is not properly cast, the threading on the ring is a different TPI than the body of the machine.... and well, I wrote rather a scathing review over on their site, so I'm not going to complain too much here.

What I did ending up doing was using my Universal Food Chopper (which according to most people cannot handle raw meat at all, never, ever, ever!

oh, yah, you can see how much trouble it's having.
I said that last bit sarcastically by the way

This is on the coarse setting for the first pass
My favourite way to make sausage was to chop the fat up by hand, fairly fine (1/2 inch pieces) add to the meat (roughly 2" pieces), mix with the spices, herbs and whatnots.  Freeze for half an hour, chop (technically this machine isn't grinding) on coarse  mix in the bread crumbs, freeze another half an hour, chop on fine, and then mix in the wine.  Freeze 30 min and then stuff away.  It's a lot of work, but the end result this way is in my opinion the most tasty.

sausage resting, waiting to be made into links
looks pretty discussing at this stage.

Still getting the hang of stuffing the sausage and making links, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this:

They actually look like sausages when you fry them up.  Isn't that nice?

A bit of mustard, a crust of sourdough and some home made sauerkraut and I'm happy as Larry at Lunchtime. 

I'll post my variation on a garlic sausage recipe later, I want to have a few more taste tests to make sure I got it right before I commit anything to the internet.  

Affordable Cooking: Oh yes!  Pork was 98 cent a pound, bread crumbs were made with dried bits crust that would have otherwise gone to the chickens or compost.  Spices (most of which were already in the garden) were next to nothing.  The only real cost would be the 1.5 cups of Plonk (red wine) I used in the garlic sausage.  But if you live outside of Canada or make your own, red wine for cooking is far more affordable.  Casings can be bought at Stuffers and are good quality and affordable.  If you are a home sausage maker like me, go for the discount scrag ends casings.

I'm going to say it cost me $1.25 per pound of finished sausage.  I don't remember how much sausages cost in the shops, but chances are they aren't made to your specific dietary needs and desires.  

Cooking with Allergies:  A major yes for this one.  Sausages are infinitely variable.  you can even go the vegan rout and get artificial casings and fill them with spiced up lentil mush.  

By making my own sausage I can eat sausages for the first time in my life without getting a stomach ache. 

Healthy? Mostly yes since you are choosing your own ingredients and salt content.  Sausages need quite a bit of fat (20 to 40%) to have the right texture, so this may pose a problem for some people.  However, I don't eat many sausages (one a meal is plenty for me) and always match it with something like sauerkraut to aid in digestion. 

With my basic understanding of healthy eating, I would say yes, these sausages are good for you when taken internally and in moderation.

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