I had some pork shoulder and belly left over from making several pâtés this week, so I thought I’d use it up making some sausages. About the simplest sausage you can make is Toulouse sausage, because it contains only pork, salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg. No fillers of any kind. (Often, fresh sausages recipes will include a good portion of bread crumbs, which absorb the juices (read “fat”) during cooking, resulting in a juicy, tender interior.) Because they lack filler, and because they are made from coarsely ground meat, they benefit from longer, slower cooking after they’ve been browned. For example, you would almost certainly see Toulouse sausages in a cassoulet.
There seems to be some controversy out there about what a Toulouse sausage actually is. Some claim that garlic, thyme and red wine should be included; others say to add smoked bacon. I am not taking a strong position on this. I just made mine out of what I had on hand, which included the dregs of last night’s red wine, some thyme from the garden, along with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
The other reason I wanted to make sausages was because I wanted to try out my new meat grinder/sausage stuffer. Up until now, I’d used the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for my mixer. It was always an exercise in multiple frustrations though. The grinder blade was forever getting clogged, which resulted in the meat and fat being mashed into a homogenous “smear”, as opposed to being chopped, which apparently is something you don’t want to happen. The same thing would happen when stuffing sausage casings … the worm gear in the grinder tended to mash and blend the meat/fat mixture into a fatty suspension as it crammed the filling into the casing, so instead of seeing distinct bits of red-pink meat and white fat through the casing, the filling was just a pinkish-white goo. Yuck.
The new grinder had a much more powerful motor, a much larger and sharper blade, and a case aluminum body and worm gear, which meant I could chill the grinder parts in the freezer to help keep everything cold; the KitchenAid grinder is largely plastic, which, being a pretty lousy heat conductor, was impossible to chill.
So, I did my mise-en-place, which took about 15 seconds, and got going.With the meat chilled almost to the point of being frozen, I put the grinder through it’s paces. It worked like a charm. It motored through a kilo of meat without a snag, literally.
I added the seasonings, and mixed it all up for about 30s in my stand mixer. After cooking a spoonful of it to taste for seasoning, I chilled the mixture in the freezer for several minutes.
While the meat mixture was chilling, I got ready to start stuffing. I screwed the sausage horn onto the grinder, and stretched the sausage casings onto it.I took the meat mixture out of the freezer and started to feed it by handfuls down the feed tube. Nothing happened. I expected to see the mixture come out the sausage horn and start filling the casing, but instead, the mixture wasn’t even being drawn in by the grinder. Cursing, I stopped the machine and took grinder assembly apart, and immediately saw what the problem was. I hadn’t put the thing together properly; it seemed as if there was a part of some sort missing, the piece that would hold the worm gear firmly in place in the drive socket of the machine. Consulting the manual revealed nothing … there wasn’t any mention it at all of how to use the sausage stuffing attachments. I eventually kludged something together, and managed to get it working. Unfortunately, with all the starts and stops, I didn’t take any pictures of the stuffing process, which went pretty smoothly and quickly after that. So, now we’ve got something for D to cook for dinner tonight!
Update, 9:05 pm: Dinner was sauerkraut braised with the browned sausages and a little bit of half-cured pork belly that was in the fridge. Also some boiled potatoes and a green salad.
Copyright © 2015, Allan Risk. All Rights Reserved.