Sausage Fancier

sausage fancier: urban garden

Once you’ve seen how sausages are made, you’ll want to eat nothing but sausages. This was my first impression of home sausage making; my second was that making sausages is possibly my true calling and that my university loan debts could have been better spent on a meat mincer and practicing the barbecuing arts rather than on undergraduate degrees.

I started with a setup familiar to all new converts to the testaments of sausage making: a copy of Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie and George Foreman’s Lean Mean Meat Mincing Machine. That George Foreman lends his moniker to an electric meat mincer is no great surprise to me. I discovered years ago that Foreman had made not less than nine billion American dollars from selling a multitude of appliances in no way limited to the indoor grill. The hypocrisy of adding the word “Lean” to a product that should be pumping out sausages that should be about 25% fat is not lost in me.

If you’re looking to lose weight, eating pork fat stuffed into a tube is not your best option. I’m sure that George would argue that his Lean Mean Meat Mincing Machine means that the home sausage fancier could control the fat content in their sausages just like he himself took control of his 1971 battle with Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica, but I’d rather be eating richer, fattier sausages in moderation than the fat-free simulacra of a sausage. Fat is vital for human survival, just like the footwork Foreman displayed in his 1987 fight with Steve Zouski.

My first batch was perfect. I followed Ruhlman’s basic garlic sausage recipe and added a tablespoon of roughly crushed cumin seeds, chilli flakes, Kampot pepper, then lowered the salt content. The Lean Mean Meat Mincing Machine shudders away. I achieved the “primary bind” that Ruhlman mentions; once ground, the meat turns sticky as the protein breaks down. The casein skin burst only once while stuffing.

sausage fancier

I grilled the sausages over charcoal as slowly as possible. I ate them with friends in absolute stunned silence.

I’ve begun eyeing off the greying cut-price meats in the supermarket refrigerators with a single question in mind: will it mince? What else can I stuff? What memories of sausages past can I recapture? How much of my life has been wasted not making my own sausages?

If there is one thing you can expect from this blog in the coming years, it is more sausage.

My basic garlic, cumin and pepper sausage recipe

(based on Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s “Fresh Sausage Master Recipe: Fresh Garlic Sausage”)

Yields: about two and a half kilograms of sausages.

The original Ruhlman/Polcyn recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of salt. I ground in two tablespoons of this and fried up a patty of the mince to test the flavour before stuffing the casings. For me, it was salty enough but add more or less to your taste. Real intestine casings are tough to find in Australia. I went with casein.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of cumin seeds, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon of Kampot pepper (or the best quality black pepper you can get), coarsely ground.
2 tablespoons of the cheapest salt available*.
3 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 cups of white wine
2.5 kilograms of fatty pork meat (approx 25% fat. I used 2 kilos of shoulder to 0.5 kilo of belly)

Method:

Pound the cumin, pepper and chilli flakes in a mortar and pestle until most of the cumin seeds are broken. Finely chop the garlic. Chop the meat into pieces small enough to fit into your mincer. Mix meat, spices and salt together in a bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Soak casein casings in one cup of white wine.

Mince all ingredients into a bowl set in ice, on the fine (0.25cm) grade. Add one cup of wine and mix the mince until it becomes sticky. Fry up a patty of meat to test flavouring, then adjust anything to taste.

Change mincer to stuffer attachments. Thread about a metre of casings over attachment and tie the end in a knot. Pour mince into mincer and stuff away!

Section the giant sausage into odd lengths by twisting the casings – it is much easier to make one metre-long sausage and do this at the end of the process rather than juggling the sausage and the mincer. Charcuterie has a twee picture of measuring a sausage with a ruler as to ensure uniform size; my approach is less anal but equally obscene. Cook over a fire, as slowly as you can bear.

For a much more pictorial recipe, buy Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.

* – Expensive salt makes no difference when dissolved in food, especially in sausages such as these which are packed with other aromatic components. Jeffrey Steingarten tests this out in It Must Have Been Something I Ate.

16 Comments Sausage Fancier

  1. Phil Lees

    Nope – it is a friend’s garden. Remember when I said that I was blessed with knowing some great urban gardeners? The only thing that I can claim ownership over is the sausages, which paid for the kindness of having me crash on the couch. I’m like Johnny Appleseed, only with charcuterie, leaving a trail of sausage across Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

    The only thing about this garden that helps with my overwhelming sense of inadequacy as a gardener, is that the friend who designed and tends it got their PhD in weed control. Really.

    Reply
  2. grocer

    yum, home made sausages.
    My dad went through one of these phases years and years ago. He had a german colleague and they even got into smoking garlicky polish style ones.
    And then, one day, he stopped.
    probably moved on to perfecting the pizza.

    anyhow i left a reply to your question on facebook – australian food & wine bloggers board.

    g

    Reply
  3. rach

    ‘If there is one thing you can expect from this blog in the coming years, it is more sausage.’

    That’s what SHE said.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    Reply
  4. Jam-ez

    You seem a little uncertain with those boxing similies Phil, but of course the pugilism-charcuterie cross-over references to ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Steve ‘Polish Power’ Zouski were intentional.

    Reply
  5. Phil Lees

    Jam-ez – You should know that my love of pugilism knows no bounds. I’ll be on the lookout for more ham-fisted references to the sport.

    Rach – Yep, the huge advantage of sausage-making is the heretofore untapped well of dick jokes.

    Reply
  6. Bill W, NH USA

    I watched Wolfgang Puck on the tube showing a technique to make sausages without any equipment. You take ready made ground pork and mix in what you might like. Then you take lesser amounts of your mix and shape them into sausage links wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, I believe he also added a wrap of tin foil on top of the plastic, then boil gently, I don’t remember for how long, sorry. I’m not sure if they would hold up to the grill this way but perhaps they might. I have a Ron Popeil pasta/sausage maker that I’ve never used. If I had a George Foreman grill it too would likely be unused.

    Reply
  7. Ed

    Looks fantastic. Ruhlman’s Charcutery is top of my list right now but I’m nt allowed to cure ham outside our bedroom windows. Perhaps when i’ve finished corrupting bloggers with advertising i shall finally get a copy and start mincing.

    Reply
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  9. kay cee

    I can tell you that one of the best sausages you will ever eat is Cambodian sausage. It’s got all the perfect flavors: salty, sweet, sour, tangy all fighting each other. The flavors just burst and pop in your mouth. The after taste is also wonderful.

    Most (other) sausages that I’ve had have a soggy, musty, and almost a nasty after taste, which means you can’t eat too many. But with the Cambodian sausage, it’s almost impossible to eat just one or two.

    And it is perfect for the grill; once it cracks a little on the grill, it’s perfect to eat. It’s eaten alone, with rice, with bread, or can accompany any other dish.

    It is the bomb sausage of all time. I’ve had all kinds of sausages from around the world, and by far, this sausage that I’m talking about it the best — hands down.

    Reply
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  11. colleen

    Hi. Can you recommend a decent electric mincer/sausage maker to buy? I purchased a brand new one last week off Ebay and it blew up the second time I used it. Mind you, it was only $65.00 plus postage. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.
    Thank you
    Colleen

    Reply
    1. Mel

      if you have a cuisnart mixer…it have an attachment piece that you can buy that grinds meat, and i think one for making sausage too.

      Reply
  12. Phil Lees

    Colleen – I’m probably not the best help when it comes to assessing electric mincers – I’ve only ever owned one, and it isn’t exactly top of the line. If I didn’t already have one, I’d probably look to pick up a Kenwood Chef mixer from ebay with the mincer attachment. The Kenwoods are pretty indestructable and can be repaired.

    Reply
  13. Colin Waddell

    Your recipe fascinated me and I have modified it to this. We are in Canada and don’t have quite the heat tolerance of you folks. :) The paprika used is home-smoked sweet Hungarian. This is an awesome suasage. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply

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