Okay, it’s time to break out the meat grinder. Everyone likes to come home bearing gifts come Christmas time, and what better way to ensure a warm welcome than to bring sausage? Wine works too, but it doesn’t have quite the same cache as something you’ve made yourself. (Of course, if you made the wine yourself then you get double points, but I’m not there yet.)
I keep thinking back to this story that Hank Shaw from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook wrote about a few years ago, when he met up with the editors from Sunset Magazine. They got together after meeting at the James Beard awards, and the spread that Hank put out was a tour-de-force. Olives, cured meats, wine, honey, things he’d grown or shot and preserved and brined and cooked, and the list just kept going. (You should definitely read it, because it’s really terrific.) Some of those things went directly from that post onto my mental list of things to do (and most are still on that list)…
But fresh sausage, I can do that. This recipe is adapted from Ruhlman/Polcyn’s basic formula from their book Charcuterie for a 5 lb batch of sausage; it’s not quite their garlic sausage Master Recipe (there’s no garlic in it, for one), and it’s not quite their Sweet Italian, but the overall proportions are similar.
Sweet Italian Sausage with Brown Sugar and Fennel Adapted from Charcuterie (Ruhlman/Polcyn)
- 5 lb 2.25 kg pork shoulder/butt, diced
- 3T/40 g kosher salt
- 1T black pepper
- 2T dark brown sugar
- 1T fennel seeds, toasted
- 1t ground coriander
- 1t dried oregano
- 1t crushed red pepper
- 1 c dry white wine, ice cold
So chop up the meat, season, put in the freezer for about an hour (along with the grinding plates and auger), then grind away into a bowl set in ice. Add the wine and mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed for a few minutes until sticky and well combined. Fry a quick patty to taste for seasoning; adjust if needed. Keep the meat cold, and either stuff it into casings or make patties. This particular batch was especially nice with bowtie pasta with sauteed Swiss chard, garlic, and white beans. It also made a great sandwich, grilled, on a crusty baguette with caramelized onions. While this should probably be filed under “secrets you should keep to yourself to preserve the illusion that this was really hard to make,” it’s not hard to make fresh sausage, and it’s so good.
Useful resources on the web for sausage making:
1. Hank Shaw pulled together a series of tips on making and cooking sausages that are incredibly helpful, including recipes and an overview of his sausage-making library. Tinkering With Sausages, April 30, 2009.
2. Ruhlman posted a video tutorial this past June on How to Make Sausage. He and some friends made about 50 pounds of sausage, maybe 7 different kinds. What a great Saturday morning! It’s nice to have the visual along with the usual list of steps involved in the process.