For Christmas/Hanukkah (it’s all a blur when traditions are mixed and all of the special people are flung to all corners of the planet), the mister’s parents gave him sausage-making accessories for his fancy pants mixer. He’s made a few batches since then (a proper bratwurst and an herby lamb concoction, among them – both delicious), but I’ve typically been holed up in my nerd cave working away while the magic happens.
Yesterday, I got to witness the process and it was hella fun getting all up in Rob’s grill to take pictures and play annoying voyeur to his craft.
This is more a glimpse into the process with as many details as I could get than a recipe, unfortunately. He doesn’t really use one, but makes notes about what he wants to put in them and approximate measures according to the amount of meat he’s using because he’s a wizard.
He’s so cute when he’s doing kitchen things.
Bobo really likes to help, but also really has no clue what’s going on except that it involves meat tubes, which I made the mistake of turning him on to the in early days of our co-habitation:
Dude gets so worked up about the whole affair that he’s typically crashed out under the table by the time it’s time to actually eat the sausages and totally misses out. Poor guy.
But enough about kitties. On to the fun!
Pork loins were on sale at Freshco for something ridiculous like $1.50/lb so Rob started with chopping one of those – somewhere between five & seven pounds, if my calculations are correct – into cubes, then grinding those down using the coarser grinding die along with a goodly-sized chunk of pork belly fat.
This part is really stinky, you guys. I had to leave the kitchen because it was just that vile. That it aged in the fridge (which makes for a really nice end product, but a rather smelly beginning to the whole process) didn’t help.
Once it’s all ground down, he adds the seasonings and binder:
This is where it starts to smell nice, but I swear the chopping and the measuring, even if it’s not very precise, takes forever largely because Rob chose to use fresh almost everything. No wonder Bobo gets so worn out.
In addition to the meat stuffs, his Italian-inspired mixture contains:
- oregano (dried)
- thyme (fresh)
- parsley (quasi-dried)
- cilantro (also quasi-dried and accidentally because it was hanging to dry on the kitchen door with the parsley and those two are easily confused in that state)
- basil (fresh)
- fennel seeds
- chili flakes
- onion (fresh)
- garlic (fresh)
- balsamic vinegar
- brown sugar
- Bobo’s advice
- Lots of “aw yeeeeeeeeeahs” and cursing and love
He combines it all by hand so’s to evenly distribute the ingredients into a nice, porky blob:
Then, because you can take the man out of QA, but you can’t take the QA out of the man, he makes a test patty:
We deemed this batch to be perfect as is, but any seasoning adjustments would be made at this stage. Just don’t forget to test after making those adjustments or you may end up with a whole lot of sausages you’re not too keen on.
Then it’s time to put them to unravel the casings:
See that mess? That mess sits in a bag of brine at the back of my fridge when it’s not being used. Every time I clean the fridge I come across it and my brain parses it as “big bag of unidentifiable ick that should be chucked in the bin yesterday” instead of “essential ingredient in the making of delicious meat tubes”. I wonder if those intestines know just how many times they’ve almost been liberated.
Then it’s time to attach glob squidging nozzle to the fancy pants mixer and slide the intestine ick onto it (all technical terms).
Then it’s squidging the glob into the intestinal ick time! Exciting!
Note: Rob determined, after wrestling with a few vexatious air bubbles, that that issue could be avoided by getting the glob nozzle full of glob before trying to fill the casings.
How does something that looks so gross taste so damned good (asks the girl who will put pretty much any kind of sea bug in her mouth)?
This is the mister and me dorkily discussing the finer point of natural vs. synthetic casings while he ties the sausages off:
Note: The video cuts off before he finished saying that he hasn’t used synthetic in a long time, but the gist is everything before that: namely that synthetic casings don’t self-congeal (what a lovely thought that is) and so need to be tied with twine or summat at each end of each sausage. Sounds like a whole lotta extra work, so consider going natural. Rob was able to negotiate purchasing his bunch of casings from a local butcher (he often buys his meats for sausage-making there, too – they’re delightful) and probably has enough to make 476 million sausages.
This is a big pile of meat tubes:
AND HE WASN’T EVEN DONE AT THAT POINT.
He got 31-32 delicious, tender, moist, and flavourful sausages out of the adventure. Pretty good going for a ~$10 hunk of meat (I mean the pork loin, not Rob. Rob makes sausages…and music…and beer. He is worth far more than that) and a few hours of time.
The process is time- consuming and not for the faint of heart, but it’s also fun and gives one full control over what goes into the end product, which is my favourite reason for doing anything from scratch. All well worth it to me, but I just took pictures and ate like a pig.
If you’d like to delve further into the wonderful world of bespoke meat tubes, here are some sites Rob recommends: