Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sausage Fest 2010!

Last weekend Kenneth and I joined our friends, Ben, an experienced Italian chef, and Carly, his trusted sous chef, and lovely host, on a whirlwind journey of making our own sausages!

It started with 20 pounds of pork shoulder from our local Cash and Carry, that Ben chopped into 1-inch cubes, and froze for 30 minutes. Then, we fed it through the meat grinder (see the one we used here) into a large pan, where we added the spices and mixed well. We split the meat into two batches, one seasoned with Ben's family recipe (no family secrets given away here), and one that we made up (so I am happy to share): salt, pepper, fresh garlic and red chili pepper flakes. To make sure we had the right proportion of seasoning, we fried some up! I love that about cooking - eat as you go. :)

Using the same appliance, with the sausage stuffer attachment, we threaded on the casing and filled it with the ground pork/spice mixture, tying it off at both ends.

Let me take a minute to talk about the casing. The larger size sausages (think bratwurst) are made from pig intestine. The smaller sausages (think breakfast) are sheep. To my surprise, you can get these from the meat counter at Whole Foods! So, I had to ask the guy - how often do people come in and buy casing? His response, and the full conversation left me speechless, often (he claims it is a Seattle thing). In fact, he just made 50 lbs. of sausage at his home that weekend! When asked what kind? Bear. That's right people, bear, and he claims it is delicious! But, his favorite is a combination of pork and elk.

Back to our own experience... Once the sausage was filled in its casing (which requires more skill than you might imagine), we twisted every other segment to create the sausage ropes you often see at the butchers. Sections of links were cut off to package and freeze, or give away.

Our hard work, and 3+ hours of time paid off immediately, as Ben fried up the sausages with onions and peppers for a delicious dinner.

I was never a big fan of sausages (much to Kenneth's disappointment), but knowing how it was made, and what went into it, really changed that. On top of that, this experience supports my plan of someday joining a meat co-op/CSA, where I would have a share of local, organic beef and/or pork. One step closer from farm to table!

Thank you Ben and Carly!