It’s good to have help!
I was going to say something snarky like, “Look, making sausage is so easy, my two-and-a-half year old can do it!” But that wouldn’t be entirely true, since he didn’t do any of the cutting, seasoning, or grinding, and his math isn’t quite good enough to scale sausage recipes down for smaller batches (even in metric). But those pictures above aren’t staged. He did turn the crank — it’s much more fun than the Play-Doh Fun Factory; and when he realized that when he turned the crank that sausage! came out the other end, well, that was just great. He was also excited to twist the sausage into links. But really, who isn’t? The real time-saver in those pictures is the sausage stuffer (which was a present from Santa, a very nice meat-making present, I might add; something that would make a terrific Father’s Day gift for that Charcuterie-loving father in your life who is still slogging his way through stuffing with the Kitchen- Aid grinder attachment — fine for grinding, frustrating for stuffing). But then again, if you’re reading this blog, you might already be making sausage, and regardless of your parental status, this is something that should go on your wish list. There’s a huge range of sausage stuffers available at Butcher-Packer, and I’m pretty happy with mine, but you know, it’s shiny and red and built like a cannon. Why wouldn’t I like it? As I said, it was a really nice gift (and I was thinking that the basic bargain model would have been great). But I will say that if you’re giving a gift (or asking for one, and you’ve been really good) you can’t go wrong with the Tre Spade (I have the Minnie). It’s a really well made and attractive piece of kitchen equipment, and it totally takes the hassle out of the stuffing process. Jason Molinari of the Cured Meats blog explains the importance of a good stuffer in this useful post on “Key Equipment.”
So we made two batches of sausage this week: chicken sausage with tomatoes and basil for Sunday family dinner, and a basic garlic sausage for a pot luck dinner party last night. This was my first try at Ruhlman/Polcyn’s chicken sausage, but it comes highly recommended (when Ruhlman says it’s his favorite sausage in the book, it’s worth taking note). It wasn’t my first poultry sausage. I made a batch with goose and pork back in January, which I was really happy with. And the garlic sausage is a house favorite, even better if you’ve got time to smoke it after casing, when it becomes one of the best pizza toppings ever.
So first, the chicken sausage: I’m having a hard time finding fatback locally to cut into the sausage grind, so I added a 2lb piece of pork belly instead into the mix along with 3 lb of chicken thighs. Other than that, I followed the basic recipe from Charcuterie. Dinner was a food blog special: penne with Heidi Swanson’s Five Minute Tomato Sauce, and a variation on Gluten-Free Girl Shauna James Ahern’s Multigrain Bread (we make it in loaf pans, and with honey and millet added it makes awesome toast). A great and simple meal, not terribly original, but balanced with complementing flavors from the tomato, basil, lemon zest (Heidi’s touch), and chicken. I’m very happy that there’s still a pound of links on hand in the freezer to use over the next month.
The garlic sausages were a little more straightforward. I’ve started to use a bit less salt than the basic ratios in Charcuterie, and now use about 7 g of kosher salt per pound of pork shoulder (instead of 8g). (I know, I know, I’m mixing metric and imperial, but it’s easy in my brain because it comes packaged from the meat counter in pounds, and the math this time was no hassle because it was a 3 lb batch.) 8-10 grams of diced garlic per pound, and I added some grated nutmeg (inspired by Hank Shaw’s Toulouse-style Goose Sausages). And this is where my helper came in handy:
So, it was a fairly productive afternoon. And maybe we’re laying the groundwork for a future helper in the kitchen. Who knows?