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Sausages--Cook-Off 17


Chris Amirault
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Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index.

For our seventeenth Cook-Off, we're making sausages.

Wait! Come back!!

I think sausages get a lousy rap. There are many, many bad sausages around, ones that include animal body parts that even Fergus Henderson won't eat, and as a result a lot of folks here probably don't incorporate them into their diet regularly. But they're perfect for a cook-off, and here's why.

Your effort is rewarded amply, because you can make a huge batch of sausages in roughly the same amount of time it takes to make a small batch, and most sausages freeze with ease. You don't really need any fancy equipment; indeed, you can make patties instead of links and "grind" the meat with a chef's knife or cleaver.

Of course, there are more kinds of sausages than you can shake a link at. If you look at the list below, you'll see that there's a wide variety of pork-based European (and some Chinese) sausages explored in the eGullet Society forums. However, there are many kinds of sausages that aren't made with pork and that come from other cuisines. For example, I'm looking forward to making a new batch of sai oua, Thai sausage, in the next week or two, and I might take a crack at lobster sausages for a new years eve treat.

Finally, sausages are one of the world's great foods. The snap of the casing, the flavor of the meat, the aroma of the seasonings, the lovely coating of fat on your tongue... once you start making your own, you'll begin to realize that there really is not limit to what you can make into sausages.

Sausage fans should certainly check out Klink's sausage diary, days one, two, three, four, five, and (no typo) twenty four. There's also a great newer thread devoted mainly to cured European sausages here. There are other threads devoted to fat ratios in sausage, fresh Chinese pork sausages, a boudin making, equipment, sweet Italian sausage recipes, Nullo Modo's sausage-making party, and homemade sausage. There's even a previous sausage cook-off in the China forum. Finally, folks are cooking from eGullet's own Michael Ruhlman's new Charcuterie book here.

So, all you sausage-phobes out there, remember that the purpose of a cook-off is to try to make something that you've never made before. As far as I can tell, sausage making is a bit precarious, but all the more fun because of that; I stress out about air pockets, while the gang curing their own get to worry about maggots and botulism. :blink: It's all part of what makes a cook-off great, though, imposing your anxieties on willing chums, right?

Trust me: if you take a crack at making sausages from scratch, you'll never look back. Of course, we then need to discuss dishes in which to use them, so if you'd rather start on the bunny slope using storebought sausages, have at it!

Let's get to grindin' and stuffin', folks!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Welcome to the one-year anniversary eGullet Recipe Cook-Off!

One year!! Special congrats and thanks go to you, Chris. This is your baby, and we are grateful. It's been educational and best of all, great fun. Cheers!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I'd love to have a recipe for banger sausages. It's been a long time since a local restaurant took bangers and mash off their menu, and absence is definitely making the heart grow fonder.

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And me with some ground lamb in the fridge waiting for my attention - perfect timing!

Once upon a time we made an arabic lavendar lamb sausage that was out of this world, but the "eww it tastes like soap" weenies complained, so we didn't make it again, and the recipe has since been lost :sad:

I love sausage, it has such infinite possibilities. Hmm, I'm making a grand aioli next weekend. Any suggestions for the perfect sausage to serve with aioli?

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Charles, did you mince the pancetta? And grind the rest finely? I don't know why but I'm obsessing about the fineness of the grind....

I just chopped the pancetta coarsly, threw it in with the other meat and ground them both together, for a consistent texture.

Eden: don't know what you have in mind for the lamb, but I like to throw it with sundried tomatoes and feta cheese, using a bit of cumin and cinnamon for spicing.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Chris, what a great and timely topic. I won't be able to play until after Christmas because of travel plans, but I'm all over it when we get home from NC on the 27th. I've been fiddling off and on (more off than on, I fear) with a recipe for all beef Texas hot links for many, many months, and maybe this will prod me into real action now. Great choice, especially for a cold winter night's meal :biggrin:.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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This thread is just in time! I will be serving two different kinds of homemade sausage for Xmas eve dinner this saturday, both are from "Charcuterie".

click here for more info.

Beautiful, Elie! They look so neat and even and tidy. You mention using collagen casings.

So, time people talked about casings. My meat grinder should be returning from the cabin right after the new year, so I might be a bit behind on this one!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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In my opinion you can just brush off this green mold if you are at the ready to eat stage.

Then again, if the green mold is taking over and you see it in FULL EFFECT then there may be something wrong.  I wouldn't worry about it too much if there is a small hint of green.

Let someone know before you try your salami...just to be safe (j/k!)

How about a photo?

Yeah, everybody, sorry no photos, I have a digi, but it's all packed away. The salami is still very much edible, and the green stuff didn't change the flavor noticeably after I washed it off. I think I had a little too much fennel flavor, otherwise its great. Thanks Ore, Aidells, it worked out just fine. You know, davebr, someone else might be able to answer your question but as long as you can grow some mold on it within the first week, keeping it in a walk in should work. There is a fundamental difference, and that is that the method discussed here most, with set humidity, higher temps, uses is pretty much fool proof as I understand it. It seems the mold helps control the moisture loss so to avoid the dreaded case hardening.

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Eden: don't know what you have in mind for the lamb, but I like to throw it with sundried tomatoes and feta cheese, using a bit of cumin and cinnamon for spicing.

Sounds wonderful! However I needed to cook the lamb today, and lacking feta in the house, I made Ahrash, an early Andalusian recipe spiced with cumin coriander and caraway. Served with a honey mustard sauce:

gallery_20334_1469_123797.jpg

I've made these before & they're mighty tasty - you can't go wrong with lamb & cumin in my world :rolleyes:

Ahrash are meant to be a patty style sausage, so I could take the easy way out today. However I found some casings in the freezer today so if I have time later in the month I'll make some proper stuffed sausages as well. (Though they probably won't be as pretty as FoodMan's!)

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Yes, Elie, do tell: collagen casings?

Collagen casings are edible casings that can be stored at room temperature and cook up very nicely. They are simpler to work with than natural (no cleaning, soaking, foul smell...) for a beginner sausage maker. they actually feel like parchment paper and keep forever in a drawer.

Click for more info

The downside is that they are not as "flexible" so, they need to be tied with butcher twine because they do not stay twisted. See, the natural casings are very elastic and remain more or less closed where there is no filling. These ones retain their diameter, even when not filled.

I am planning on trying natural casings soon to see the difference for myself.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I made Ahrash, an early Andalusian recipe spiced with cumin coriander and caraway.  Served with a honey mustard sauce:

Eden, they look great! Do you have the recipe? I can tell that RecipeGullet is itchin' to have your version!

Collagen casings are edible casings that can be stored at room temperature and cook up very nicely. They are simpler to work with than natural (no cleaning, soaking, foul smell...) for a beginner sausage maker. snip

I am planning on trying natural casings soon to see the difference for myself.

Elie, I've been having great luck with natural casings that my butcher at Whole Foods has. They have been pre-cleaned and come inserted with a segment of red plastic tubing that makes inserting them onto the sausage stuffer very easy. I haven't had to desalt, rinse, soak, or enzyme 'em, and they've been pretty simple to work with. No odor either. They don't put them out front, of course (insert Whole Foods joke here), but any WF that makes their own sausages probably has them.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Thanks for the tip chris, I'll make sure to ask for it. Believe it or not Whole Foods is also my source for Pork fat back for sausage. They throw away tons of the stuff and are usually happy to give it to me.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I made Ahrash, an early Andalusian recipe spiced with cumin coriander and caraway.  Served with a honey mustard sauce:

Eden, they look great! Do you have the recipe? I can tell that RecipeGullet is itchin' to have your version!

Ask & ye shall receive. Ahrash recipe.

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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After chasing the UPS driver across town we came home with a sausage stuffer and put it to work.

Following the recipe in Ruhlman's Charcuterie book, swapping sheep casings in place of hog and rendered beef fat where the recipe calls for pork fat we made a batch of merguez.

merguez1.jpg

Our wine cellar being woefully low on meat, we set out to rectify the problem while the merguez was resting in the fridge. I disassembled four ducks, rendered the fat and the legs and thighs are now happily turning to confit in the oven (not sausage related but preserved nonetheless). We used the rest of the meat from the ducks mixed with a fair bit of fat to make a duck version of saucisson sec. After twisting off the links we meatified the wine cellar.

duck-sausage.jpg

I'm really curious to see how they come out. The forcemeat was much looser than expected, likely because we used rendered fat.

The merguez went on the grill and were served with couscous, harissa, preserved lemons, yellow carrots.

merguez2.jpg

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I cant believe there is actually even a thread for my kind of people in here!!!! Well done to whoever thought of this!!!

Sausages!! I LOVE THEM!!!

I have grown up around them....I make them...I sell them...I've even judged competitions for them!

Someone here was mentioning that they had problems with collagen casings and that they were using twine to create the sausages. You need to learn from someone how to link your sausages. It is relatively easy to learn but difficult to describe over the net. The picture below is of a beef sausage made with a collagen casing and then linked by hand. You are right that collagen is easy to work with and you hardly ever get any splits although I dont think it looks as nice as a well made sausage with a natural casing.

gallery_31652_2254_36264.jpg

Below on the other hand is a picture of a sausage I judged at the South Australian 'Sausage King' competition. You can see that this is made from a natural skin. It has a natural curve, a nice sheen and you can still see the remnants of blood vessels in the gut wall.

gallery_31652_2254_16167.jpg

Below is a picture of some Weisswurst that we made. They are then boiled in a copper. They are delicious grilled in a pan and served on crusty toast with a sweet mustard. These were made in a natural casing. They look a little nicer as they have a natural curve and also have a natural sheen that makes them look beautiful.

gallery_31652_2254_24892.jpg

I have lots more pics which I will share when I have the chance.

I would love to hear more stories from my fellow 'snag' lovers.

Cheers,

Doc-G

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Beautiful sausages, Doc!

Raised in the Southeastern United States, I have always wondered if we owe a larger debt to our heritage from the British Isle's than we do the German concerning the sausages we know and love. I know that sausage making was widespread among those various ethnicities who settled the Southern US, but in my particular neck of the woods, we seem to share more in common with the banger than the brat. A haggis wouldn't be looked at too askance by my grandparents. Mutts that we are, though, there is a great deal of cross pollination.

I have great grandmothers whose surnames were Mayo, Preston, Moore, Griner, Wilson etc., but Grandaddy Moore simply made the best sausage, hands down, known regionally in his time and sought out. His mother, to whom he credited his skill, was a Faircloth.

Personally, I prefer the natural casings, in both fresh and smoked sausage.

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I wanted to participate in this cookoff anyway, and was planning to use my Cuisinart and my knives to "grind" the meat... but would you believe, my wonderful boyfriend got me the KitchenAid meat grinder and sausage stuffing attachments for Christmas! (We exchanged our gifts yesterday...) I got him homebrewing equipment so it'll be Oktoberfest all year for us in 2006....

Today I went to the Strip in Pittsburgh to try to buy ingredients to make some kind of sausage. I got a nice pork butt and hog casings, but NOBODY had any pork fat available at all. I'm going to try calling a few other grocery stores in the area to see what I can find. Tonight will be the maiden voyage for the grinder and the stuffer. Here's hoping it turns out OK!

Jennie

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