Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sausage, Sausage, And More Sausage

Four different fresh sausage
I am wearing a huge smile on my face.  Just the sight of those beautiful sausages makes me happy, brightens my day, and makes my taste buds tingle.  Top left is my fennel sausage; underneath, garlic sausage; in the middle, Italian sweet sausage; and both those babies on the right are Merguez sausages.  The casings for the Merguez had a hole so I had to stop, tie off, and finish with a smaller sausage.

This is my first time making sausage.  I never knew it could be so easy.  Actually, stuffing them, with a Kitchen Aid, is not easy without help.  That is one lesson I learned.  It's difficult trying to guide the sausage casing with one hand while stuffing in the meat with the other hand.  Also, pushing the meat into the sausage stuffer has to be somewhat continuous or the sausage becomes lumpy and filled with air pockets.  Of course, maybe that problem is related to oiling the worm.

Another lesson learned is that there is a very good reason for oiling the worm well, because otherwise the meat sticks to it, which means stopping and washing everything in the middle of making sausage or building my own arm muscles by forcing more meat to go through the stuffer.  Well, I have another batch of meat ready to go so I'll see if I learned my lessons.

Keeping the casing in lukewarm water before threading it onto the stuffer also helps. Otherwise, it's hard work and provides potential for the casing to tear.  So, having someone to help stuff the sausage, oiling the worm, and keeping the casings wet were my three most important lessons.  They were techniques I had never known before.

As for the recipes, well, I borrowed freely and must give proper due to the providers.  So far my favorite recipe is from Mrs. Wheelbarrow whose Merguez sausage recipe is soooo goooood!  She mentioned the merguez in this month's grinding challenge, but I first saw her recipe as a Food52 winner.  After seeing the comments that others left, I decided not to change anything.  Mrs. Wheelbarrow's spice mixture is incredible and I'm sure it will find its way into other dishes.  I don't know what harissa she uses, but I had some DEA harissa that I had picked up at The Basque Market on a trip to Boise.  They don't seem to have it in their online store but I've noticed that Amazon carries it.

Well, I did kind of change one thing.  I added about 1/3 c. of my pork shoulder butt to the lamb because I didn't want to end up with dry sausage.  I only had ground lamb left in my freezer because we had eaten all the lamb shoulder and I wasn't sure of the fat content, so, in went the pork.  In order to honor Moroccan tradition, I probably should have added oil or maybe duck fat in respect for the pork taboo.  Impulsively, however, I threw in the pork.  And to make it worse, I did it again in the second batch I have waiting to be ground.  I'm not sure what a good pork alternative would be.  I'm not crazy about lamb fat - it just isn't tasty. 

I borrowed the Italian sweet sausage and the garlic sausage recipes from Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie.  I did add a bit more hot pepper to the Italian sausage recipe, and, after frying a taste sample of the garlic sausage, decided to throw in some garlic granules in order to satisfy my garlic cravings.  Both of these are very good but next time I would toast and grind the fennel for the Italian sausage and double the amount of garlic for the garlic sausage.

Finally, the fennel sausage recipe came from Joyce Goldstein's The Mediterranean Kitchen.  This recipe called for toasting the fennel and it was delicious in the sausage!  She also has recipes in there for other sausages including Portuguese Linguisa, Greek Loukanika, Spanish Chorizo, and Calabrese Lucanica.  Wow, the Lucanica combines both pork and lamb!  I have found a match that I have to try!  I can see this is going to be the summer of sausage.


WhisKids! said...

I must say that I have never heard of oiling the worm for sausage stuffing, and I have stuffed quite a bit (insert crude butcher's joke here.) Possible solution, from experience, while the meat must be very, very cold (nearly frozen), often if the worm is too cold, as is often recommended, it will freeze to the meat and this could be your problem. Other than this, the main obstacle to sausage making is definitely the temperature of the meat and keeping the casings moist.

And don't worry, with a bit of experience you will be managing feeding the sausage and guiding the casings without problem.

Linda/IdahoRocks said...

Thanks, WhisKids! I guess I'll just have to keep trying. Actually I think the directions that came with the KA sausage stuffer said to oil/grease the worm. Pushing the sausage through was too hard so something was wrong. Maybe I had too coarse a grind?

Well, I'm not finished. I didn't make enough fennel sausage and that was one of my favorites.

Craig Faustus Buck said...

Sounds so yummy. But I have to ask whether you gave lamb fat a fair try. Are you saying you don't love that thin and scrumptious crisped strip of fat on a seared rare lamb chop? What could be closer to heaven?

Linda/IdahoRocks said...

Pork fat, yes. Lamb fat, just don't think it's yummy....