50 Before 50 #37; Recipe Project #97-98: Homemade Sausage

So I’ve been making sausage for about six months now, but sort of didn’t get around to telling you. Partly because of busyness, partly because of trial and error, and partly because I never really benchmarked these goals. How much sausage is enough sausage to count? When I wrote this goal, I think I only really meant to make it once. But it turned out that once you get it right, homemade really is better, and so I’ve kept it up. (There will be no photos for this entry. Even with decent lighting, you really don’t want to see how sausage gets made.)

The two sausages that we use most in this house are what Americans call “breakfast sausage” and the Mexican version of chorizo, which is not cured like the Spanish version. The breakfast sausage was fairly easy to solve, especially since we’ve been grinding our own meat since we saw Food Inc. shortly after moving to Syracuse. (We began with the KitchenAid attachment but quickly ended up with a full-on meat grinder, which came with the basic grinding plates and a sausage stuffing attachment. It has such an efficient motor that we call it the “meat shooter.”) I don’t have a static recipe for this sausage, but involves a spice mix from the Mennonite store about an hour away, plus a heavy-handed dusting of red pepper flakes and sage. Grind an appropriate amount of pork butt, dump it in the mixer bowl, mix with spices and a bit of water until it binds. It’s essential to keep all of the appliance parts and bowls very cold at every stage so the meat doesn’t break, which is what happens when the fat melts and your texture goes to hell. Once you’ve got everything well mixed, fry up a tiny test patty to check your spices. When you’re happy with the end product, shape into patties and freeze.

Chorizo is traditionally stuffed, and so I approached it as such, traditional hog casings and all. I used Rick Bayless’ recipe:

1 1/2 lb lean boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 inch pieces
8 oz pork fat
12 medium ancho chiles (cut that down if you don’t want spicey)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves ground
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp each dry thyme and marjoram
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Pulverise all the spices in a food processor (toasting the chiles first
if using).
Measure in the vinegar and a little water to make a paste. Sieve the
mixture into a large bowl.

Grind the meat and pork fat coarsely. Add the meat to the seasonings and
mix well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

And it was good, but it lacked the particular punch that we’re used to in Mexican chorizo. After our first breakfast attempt with it, Mr. Husband looked at me and said, “You know what this would be good for? Lasagna.” And he was totally right. The rest of this chorizo went into the ragu for these tiny lasagnas:

Tiny lasagna assembly line

And they were mighty fine. The taste of the finished product bore a strong resemblance to Greek pastitsio (albeit with lasagna noodles), and we rationed them over the entire fall semester. They were definitely good enough to share with a few of our close friends, who asked for the recipe. So as chorizo, not for us. As a standard sausage for lasagna, it’s a keeper.

So, sausages made? Check. This is something I’ll definitely be fiddling around with for quite some time. I’d like to figure out a chorizo that’s a keeper, as well as Cumberland sausage, which I love and have never seen for sale in this country.

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2 Responses to 50 Before 50 #37; Recipe Project #97-98: Homemade Sausage

  1. Pingback: Thinkery › 50 Things Before 50

  2. Greg says:

    wow! this is great. when i get a kitchen aid w/ attachment i am totally doing this. Safron Foer’s “Eating Animals” be damned.

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