Sausages

A few weeks ago I bought a meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer and a sausage stuffer attachment for the grinder. I finally gave it a test run today to high approval results from my girls and mediocre results in my opinion.

I bought purchased what I thought was a massive pork picnic shoulder for a bargain at $2/lb.

Using a boning knife I peeled the skin off then with my chef’s knife proceed to cut it into what I through were reasonable size chunks. Turns out, you should actually cut the meat into longer strips rather than chunks. It makes for easier feeding through the grinder.

Before freezing for a couple of hours, which is essential for the meat not to turn to mush in the grinder and I would expect especially important with a nice fatty piece like pork shoulder, I mixed in a healthy dose of spinach-basil pesto, some roasted garlic, and what I thought to be the right amount of pink Himalayan salt to season the meat nicely. It turns out that Himalayan salt is more effective at seasoning a cooked piece of meat not 5 raw pounds of it.

While the seasoned (allegedly) chunks of meat sat in the freezer for two hours, I soaked the hog casings in some white wine, smashed raw unpeeled garlic and some dried bay leaves. It was all very aromatic but in the end didn’t impart the extra flavour I was hoping for. Though to be honest I ate very little of the actual casing.

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After the meat was cold enough I ran it throughout the grinder and cooked up a patty to taste test. I was unimpressed. The patty which obliviously had no fillers such as breadcrumbs or even egg did hold together; however it was severely under seasoned and a bit dry which surprised me for such well marbled pork. I’ll have to do some more research but I’m not sure if I should have mixed different cuts of pork or added some olive oil to my mixture.

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I had one of my sous chefs add a toddler sized fist full of sea salt as well as another half-head of roasted garlic and a couple more dollops of pesto. Then I gathered up a strip of casing onto the feeder tube and started dropping the mixture in. Once I figured out how to manage the process of adding the meat ( and note that at 5’2″ I couldn’t see the top go the attachment)while manipulating the casing and not letting air pockets to firm or the meat to back up, it was pretty straight forward. I couldn’t figure out how to tie it quickly to just ran the whole casing through then tied and cut each piece separately.

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I made 15 sausages before running out of time and have enough freshly ground meat to easily make another 30. I’m not sure if I’m going to push all of it through casing or just do some in a breakfast party or tube style. It really will depend in time. My preference is the casing and to throw them in the barbecue but seeing as my girls don’t eat the casing anyway (too chewy) and that I need to wrap this cooking project up tomorrow, I might split the difference. I’m also going to season the next batch with a heavier hand (I haven’t yet because I didn’t want the salt to drain the moisture from the ground meat) and possibly with parsley pesto, goat cheese and sundried tomatoes.

Ultimately, the whole thing was time consuming but not horribly so; not something I’d do in the heat of the summer just from food safety concerns; and a success from a health perspective – no fillers, chemicals, all natural, and no cross contamination or questionable meats. As I said, my girls loved the end result, while I lt it needed more moisture and a lot more seasoning. One other problem I encountered was during the cooking process, the sausages inflated to the point where I thigh they would burst and so I unwisely, poked them with a fork and a fountain, literally a fountain, of water and liquid fat spouted out. Live and learn, right?

Oh, and I also had a lot of fun!

Update, June 1st: I just ran semi frozen veal stew through the large hole grinder and it came through smooth and easy! The semi frozen (ice crystals present) strips of pork shoulder and pork fat also came through the large hole grinder easily. I mixed in a ton of sea salt, dried herbs, fresh ground nutmeg and the zest of one lemon. I soaked the casing in half a bottle of Mill Street organic beer, and OMG, it was delicious. The lemon was a brightening flavour, the nutmeg added depth, the combo of meat types and cuts was perfect.

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