Sausage Virgin

Here in the West Tamar Valley, we have a small, newly formed slow food group. It is comprised in the large part by local wine makers. I’m the add-on wine appreciator. We had our inaugural meeting a couple of months ago, in the back room of the lovely Nigel’s Exeter butchery. The undisputed sausage king was giving us a lesson in sausage making. It was fantastic, but getting to have a go on his commercial sausage stuffer has ruined the kitchenaid sausage stuffing experience for me forever – it is so slow and cumbersome by comparison. There is something quite thrilling and, dare I even say it, almost carnal about the sausage forming and shooting through your hands at break-neck pace. There was quite a lot of giggling and innuendo that went on that afternoon from the sausage maker virgins.

Since that session, I have been a bit remiss. We were meant to have our group sausage lesson and go away and practice for our sausage bonanza BBQ, where we will come together again and be judged on our sausage-making efforts. Have I been working hard on my Bratwurst? Unfortunately not. I have made a few attempts to limited success and am experiencing the hardest steps when learning something new – the first ones.

Sausages - edited

For my first sausage-making foray, I tried (and failed) to boot my son out of the kitchen so I could concentrate – this is, after all, serious business. With him jabbering away, I minced my pork shoulder and made my mixture. I formed a little patty and fried it to test the seasoning. Not bad but more pepper was required. Then I made my sausages. They looked vaguely like sausages but they were not terribly even and they had air pockets in them. Nigel’s commercial stuffer is operated by a lever that you press with your leg and the mixture just shoots out of it – it’s amazingly fast and consistent. The kitchenaid is much clunkier by comparison but I’m hoping with practice I will be able to produce passably consistent sausages.

My next batch looked better, but when fried in the pan they rendered all their fat and tasted dry and didn’t have the right texture – so I didn’t get the type or quantity of binder right.

The next batch were stuffed too tightly so they split.

The batch after that one looked good, tasted better than previous attempts, didn’t loose all their fat in the cooking, but still…the texture was not right.

I’m starting to feel sorry for my family. My husband has me pegged right – he knows I am not going to give up on this until I have achieved some level of mastery and has resigned himself to the knowledge that he will be forced to eat a lot of inferior sausages until I make a breakthrough. The things we do for love and obsession.

This is roughly what I put in my first sausage mix – they didn’t work terribly well as sausages but make great meatballs or burgers or meatloaf with the addition of an egg
700g pork shoulder minced, with some fat left in
1/2 tbsp salt
good grinding of pepper
Good splash of red wine (it’s as technical as that)
Sprinkling of dried oregano
1 tbsp homemade apricot jam
Sprinkling of bread crumbs

We’ll see what the next 12 months brings to my sausage-making technique.

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