So I left you last week with my foray into the world of sausage making. With the research done and the equipment bought, it was time to get down to the good stuff.
As it began, I really enjoyed the mixing and tasting session. It’s when I got to the stuffing of the sausage when things became interesting. Let’s just say - it’s not a one man job. It did, in fact, end up being a 2 man . . . and child . . . job. And, it was a lot messier than I expected! Luckily, we got there in the end and this is where we discovered that there is a difference between using natural casings and collagen casings. After a lot of deliberation, I chose to use the latter. When it came to uniformity, it worked well – but it definitely didn’t have the look I was going for!
Next came the inevitable tasting session. I cooked them all in the same way - which was in a hot oven. I debated frying them, but I read that they could explode if not packed properly. A risk too far at this stage of the process. So by using the oven, there was a bit of colouring on them but I think grilling may have added more browning.. I managed to convince another 4 willing participants to join me in the tasting group; luckily, they were all family members, including our 6 year old daughter. All of us like food and all of us have a very varied palette. In fact, bearing in mind we are mostly related, we like very different things.
When the results came in, lets just say that the general consensus was that there is some room for improvement.
The black olive and basil sausage came out almost ‘mealy’. It had a nice taste but it was almost too strong. The youngest amongst us thought it looked the most appealing, but turned her nose up at the taste! We all agreed it was quite strong. And, to be fair, when it was served on top of mash with beans (as all good sausages should be!) it did not go very well. It would have been much nicer accompanied with some mixed peppers or a fresh tomato and pasta. I also think, when making it next time, I will use a better quality of olive. Tinned black olives have a tendency to have a real rubbery taste and I think that hindered it. A nice fresh Spanish green olive would be better.
The Chorizo sausage was really strong in paprika flavour. It wasn’t quite Chorizo but it was a good start. The lack of bread crumbs made it a little meatier than the others. Some of my helpers found it a bit salty and I had to agree that it certainly was bordering on the salty side. Others didn’t like the toughness of some of the meat that came through. Due to not cutting it with rusk meant there was not a lot of give in it
Probably the better of the first batch was the Curry Spiced Sausage. The curry spice definitely complimented the pork. The amount of the rusk seemed to be just about right. It wasn’t mealy and it wasn’t meaty. It was fatty enough without being too greasy. In the words of Goldilocks, it was ‘Just Right’! The one criticism was that the curry spice was too raw in places. This can be solved by cooking the curry out a bit more before adding it to sausage mixture. Another option would be to add onions to the recipe and mix the curry spice with the cooking onions. However, the on cost to this would be the need to adjust the volume of rusk and meat as it would now be a wetter mixture. . . etc.
And here endeth the first voyage into the world of sausage making. I currently have 20lbs of Pork Shoulder ready and waiting for me in the fridge. This time I have brought some Cider, Onion and Sage, Chilli and Ginger as well as a few other herbs. In this next batch I am going to make some adjustments to the producing process as well as vary the flavourings. I am also hopefull we will get the summer weather we have been waiting for which will enable me to get the smoker out and hit that too. And maybe I will even bring out the BBQ to cook them as well.
Anyway, until the next time……….
Next weeks blog will be back to the A-Z of ingredients and it’s going to be ‘M’. I will return to the sausages in a few weeks so that I can share with you how I have progressed and maybe a recipe for them too.
Have a great week
I thought I would take a break from my A-Z of ingredients and share with you a small project that I have started upon - Sausage making!
Sausages. Wherever you travel in the world, you will find the sausage in some form. Whether it’s the Andouille from France, the Bratwurst from Germany, Sai ua from Thailand or our loveable Walls best; sausages are extremely prominent in cuisine. They’ve undergone somewhat of a resurgence in the last 10 years or so within the UK. Growing up, I can remember sausages - and that was about it. Not pork and apple, sweet and sour or even sundried tomato flavour, just plain old pork sausages. Now, however, there are so many types of sausage available all the way through to pork and toffee apple sausage!
I’m a big fan of eating sausages. Not so much for breakfast (as many people do) but I do love to throw a few links on the BBQ! I wouldn’t put myself down as a fanatic but I would suggest that I am somewhat of a connoisseur. So when I found myself with a small amount of time on my hands, I decided that I would make my own. And then I hit upon the idea that I would smoke them as well, but that is going to have to wait a while – mainly because I cannot seem to get the dry weather to get my electric smoker out!
My first stop was to buy myself a meat grinder, a sausage maker and some sausage skins. Then I came to a realization - and I’ll be honest - I’ve got very little experience in the art of actual sausage making! I attempted it a couple of times, but to little success. In fact, there were a few times when I got the butchers to give me the meat, I added my flavor, then returned to the butcher to make the sausages for us.
So, with all the necessary equipment and a complete lack of knowledge, I headed into Brace of Butchers to garner some advice. They were extremely helpful and accommodating. Rob in particular gave me plenty of useful advice. Aiming for the simple pork sausage, I had found multiple recipes. Some involved pork belly and shoulder and back fat, while some had shoulder and back fat. Some even suggested just the belly. After much discussion, I settled on just shoulder meat with the fat that came with it (It also had the skin which made some cracking crackling).
Then we talked about rusk. Now, living in a house with a few gluten free diets, it’s a constant battle to find sausages without wheat or gluten. The good news was that Brace of Butchers keep a gluten-free rusk. Rusk is important to the sausage as it holds the fat and thus keeping it moist and often holding the flavour. Sometimes gluten free sausages are made without anything other than meat giving them a strange, sometimes crumbly texture.
I took my pork, my rusk and headed home with a head full of ideas. The first job was to mince up the pork meat. Then I hit another wall. There were 3 settings on the mincer. Which one should I use? After another search on Google, I settled for the largest setting. Apparently it keeps some structure to the meat. So I blitzed up 5kg of pork shoulder and suddenly discovered just how much sausage I would need to make. I split it up into 3 separate amounts and then hit the flavour trail!
I wanted to try a range of contrasting flavours and I also decided that I didn’t want to break the bank the first time I made them. So I went through the cupboard and discovered the following:
With a little more searching, on the window sill I discovered some fresh basil. My mind was made up.
- Black Olive and Basil
- Chorizo / Paprika
- Curry Spiced
And so this is where the fun began! And this will be continued next week as I felt this was a lot to put out in one go. Make sure to read the next installment and all the fun we had whilst tasting them