On March 23, 2008, I wrote about making home-made sausages. You never heard any more on the subject – that’s because it didn’t happen. What put paid to it was that the mincer-cum-sausage stuffer I bought was so bloody noisy it could only be used outdoors, while wearing ear defenders, and alternatives were way beyond my budget. And, later, I became very ill, something which culminated in my succumbing to heart failure recently.
Oddly enough, a life-threatening illness seems to have given me a bit of a boost. Maybe it’s a subconscious urge to make the most of whatever time I have left. No idea if we’re looking at weeks or months – I sincerely doubt, with everything else that’s wrong, we’re looking at years. If anyone knows, they’re not saying.
Anyway, in a fit of optimism I bought a mincer accessory for my Kenwood Chef (which I bought to make bread-making easier), and converted a pound of braising steak into the most sublime mince, some of which wound up last night as a plate of mince and tatties. Made me appreciate just how shit shop-bought mince is these days, with it’s huge levels of fat, plus mystery meat, assorted tubes and cartilage. You do need some fat, but 20-25%, while fine in sausages, is NOT fine in mince.
Note: Low-fat sausages are an abomination – if the fat content bothers you, eat 2 instead of 3, or cut-down elsewhere. Don’t insult your palate with “slimmers’ sausages”.
Anyway, I was so impressed with the ease of mincing – and the speed – that my urge to make sausages resurfaced. And that’s something which can be spread over two or even three days, to ease the load.
The links on the original post may be out of date now, and certainly the one for the mincer/stuffer can be safely ignored (it now goes to a more expensive machine). The Vacuum Sealing gizmo, has increased in price by about £1 to £20.86, and moved – it’s now here. A bargain – I’ve seen it offered for 3 times the price. You don’t need to make sausages – great for anyone with a freezer.
Sausage-making stuff can be had here , here or here – all, importantly, sell herbs and spices separately from seasonings containing rusk (why would I want rusk, I make bread!), as well as casings and all the usual sausage making accoutrements.
By the way, you don’t have to use casings, you can make patties, as the Americans do for their breakfast sausage – useful if the technique of stuffing casings proves elusive, or just for speed. They’ll still taste good.
I plan on making, for my first attempt, Old English pork sausages, with a touch of home-made bread crumbs (60g per kg of meat – not essential, but absorbs juices that would otherwise leak out and go to waste), sage, nutmeg, honey, and home-made whole-grain mustard, well-seasoned with white pepper (traditional). Salt appears not to be an ingredient.
My local butcher used to make an excellent Old English sausage, and then he stopped. Why? Can’t get the spice mix. Oh, OK, but why not make your own? Silence.
Eventually I sent him links to several online suppliers, but then I stopped buying sausages there all together as he switched to artificial casings with the look and texture of paper, and the fillings had the sandy texture of ground-up cartilage. A shame as, in the eighties, his sausages were absolutely stunning – the best I’d ever had (and I’m very fond of sausages).
So, it’s DIY time.
Since my previous sausage post I’ve discovered that stabilisers can be all natural, not phosphates or nitrates, or even omitted altogether, as can preservatives, which would be my choice; as they’re going to be vacuum-sealed and frozen, shelf-life isn’t a consideration.
Breadcrumbs have to be as dry as possible (for absorbency), so I’ll cut slices from my loaves, trim off the crusts, and dry them on top of a radiator, crushing them to the required texture – not too fine – before bagging and tossing in the freezer. As you can see above, at 60g crumbs per kg of meat, you won’t need to store a hell of a lot. If you want to avoid yeast, try blitzing matzo crackers in a food processor.
Before going any further, this page is worth reading.
I seem to be having a good spell at present – though no way to know how long it’ll last – so hopefully, by next Sunday I’ll have a batch of sausages in the freezer. Actually it depends how soon stuff – casings, spices, any other odds and sods that take my fancy for future sausages (getting the best value out of the postage charge), plus my vacuum sealer – arrives.
For anyone who likes Belcher’s Sausage (flat, rectangular patties, perfect for sandwiches), there’s a recipe for Lorne Sausage here.
Another project which has also been on the back burner for years is home-made bacon. What’s mainly stopping me – it’s not hard – is the lack of decent quality pork belly.
Both sausages and bacon need to be hung somewhere cool to dry out, sausages for about 30 minutes, bacon for a few days. My bedroom, always cool, is ideal for the sausages, dunno about the bacon yet, though I do have a fridge that’s not in use – the top half of a fridge-freezer – I keep my bread flour in the freezer section.
Now then – I’ve got a bunch of links for sausage-making supplies and info, and I’ll swear one of the suppliers was offering free delivery – can’t find the bugger now, though. A mystery.
So, in the coming week, while I’m waiting for all my stuff to be delivered, I’m going to try my hand at vegetarian sausages. The commercial versions are dog food at best – deeply crap and taste, usually, of bugger all. The mysteriously much-lauded Old Mother McCartney’s sausages are made from wheat protein – gluten – about as grim as a sausage gets. On the other side of the coin, wrap Quorn sausages individually in clingfilm, pierce, and zap in the microwave for about 30 seconds. When sliced lengthways or diagonally, you have a very acceptable veggie version of Spam. Sort of. Very nice, anyway.
Provisional recipe is minced chickpeas, strong Cheddar, a little garlic, dried breadcrumbs, minced sundried tomatoes, mashed potato (Smash, made with veg stock), and egg to bind.
Obviously, you can’t use natural casings for a veggie product, but I have some sushi mats and, lined with clingfilm, they should be fine for shaping them. Cooked from frozen, they should hold their shape well and not fall to pieces.
Alternatively I could fill synthetic casings, poach them gently for 10 minutes to firm them up, then slit and remove the casings. The casings will not taint the filling and so should be acceptable to all but the most paranoid veggie. Not that I care – they’re for me, and maybe sharing with a friend.
I’m also working on a recipe for a fish sausage (yep, they do exist).
So, then, the sausage-making process – when I get to it – will be photographed using my DSLR with the remote control wrapped in a plastic bag – if I can find somewhere to put the camera tripod where I’m not going to be falling over the bugger every time I move.
Watch this space – I will be back soon, not in three years, like last time!