Saturday, March 14, 2009

Smoked sausages I

Next weekend I'm going to another motorcycle race meeting, this time in the North Island, at Manfield, near Palmerston North. I'm flying up (on air miles) and will be staying with friends. I want to take a bit of food with me, as there will be other visitors as well, and every bit helps. I'll take the last quarter of my Christmas cake, some Girl Guide biscuits (cookies), and I decided to make some smoked cheesy sausages for our breakfasts.
Last year I bought Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie from Amazon, and had a great time trying out various meaty fatty deliciousnesses. This may have something to do with why I'm needing to lose a few kgs.
Using the principles learnt from that book I invented this quite plain, but very yummy sausage, and this is the second time I've made it. I start off with some pork shoulder and some pork fat (that I've rescued from other times when I've wanted less fat in my pork rather than more, and stored in the freezer), about a kg I suppose, all up. I roughly cube it, mix it with 1 tsp of ground cumin, 1.5 tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of pink salt. The pink salt is something I've not been able to source here, but I made my own with sodium nitrite from work (from a new unopened bottle to ensure no cross contamination with, say, sodium cyanide) and table salt, ground together with a mortar and pestle. I leave the meat in the fridge overnight.
In the morning I get a little lump of frozen salted pig intestine out of the freezer, put it in a cup of cold water and forget about it for a bit. The meat goes through the mincer on my Kenwood:

Then I add a good big handful of grated cheese and a half a cup of cold water:

And mix it at medium speed for a couple of minutes, until it's gone all sticky and sausagemeat-like. While that's happening I disassemble the mincer and retrieve the various bits of munched up meat and cheese from its interior. These get quickly sautéed and tasted for seasoning - just in case I didn't put enough salt in or something, in which case I can add a bit more while it's mixing. I transfer the meat to another (smaller) bowl to keep in the fridge while I muck around with the skins.

I retrieve the length of pig intestine (aka sausage casing) I've been defrosting/soaking in cold water since I started, and run cold tap water through it. It's quite fun watching it slither around as it fills with water - I do it in the bowl from the Kenwood as it's the biggest bowl I have, and if the casing escapes it'll quite happily slither off down the plughole.

The next step is to slide the casings over the sausage stuffing attachment I've put onto the mincer when I reassembled it. It looks rather indecent doesn't it? Everything being very wet helps this process along enormously.

Now it's time to start stuffing. The sausagemeat goes down the hopper, and when it just starts to appear from the nozzle I turn the mincer off so I can tie a knot in the end of the casing. If you tie the knot before you start you end up with a big bubble of air in the first sausage, which is undesirable.

This is what it looks like while it's getting stuffed:

And here is what it looks like afterwards, when I've tied the knot in the other end:

I twist it into links and twist the links into the sort of chain you see at the butcher's. I can't explain how to do this - I have to figure it out afresh each time I do it.

But what I end up with is a nice tidy bunch of sausages that will sit in the fridge overnight, and hang neatly in the smoker tomorrow:

Quite a lot of meat gets left in the mincer and stuffing nozzle; you can follow the meat with some bread or an onion to push the last bits through into the casings if you want, or you can rescue it while taking the mincer to bits and cook it up for breakfast …

… to have as a sandwich in a bit of the bread that you baked earlier and was cooling down while you were making the sausages …

… the baguette at the back that is. You wouldn't want to put it in the plait at the front - it's filled with apple, sultanas and cinnamon.

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