Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Making Sausages

Okay, so this week’s write up is not cake related, but is still all about food.  Last Tuesday Matthew and I were invited to Evan and Shelley’s property out at Copmanhurst on the other side of Grafton.  The boys work together and we are all super passionate about food.  Like us, they are trying to get their own veggies growing and fruit trees in.  As they have 100 acres, they are also raising animals for meat which brings us to today’s post.  Evan kept the hind half of his first pig for making sausages.

So, once the kids were on the school bus, we piled into the car with a mountain of salt, a variety of spices, my Kenwood mixer (with mincer and sausage extruder attachments) and loads of enthusiasm.  As we turned into their property we were amazed at the recent storm damage which had carved massive holes into the road and parts of it had caved in.  Lucky we took the Pajero!

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On arrival, we were welcomed in.  First we had to unload the Muscovy ducks and Naked Neck chickens we had brought for their flock.  Once inside though, the hospitality was really turned on.  Evan supplied us with glass after glass of thick, luscious coffee with an amazing dense crema on top.   We had been hearing all about his coffee machine for months, so it was quite a treat to finally get to sample it’s coffee!  It was certainly everything he said it would be!

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After a little trepidation, and standing around looking at each other wondering how we were going to go about it all as none of us have ever made sausages before, we finally dove in.

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The boys took charge of carving the meat off the bones and us girls chopped it into pieces small enough to put through the mincers.

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Matthew was the first to cut himself – slicing his finger right through to the bone.  We picked on him a bit for doing anything to get out of the work, but figured he could sit and watch once we realised it wasn’t going to stop bleeding!  I was next as I nicked a chunk out of my knuckle.  Luckily with a really tightly applied bandaid, I was able to soldier on.  To Evan’s credit, the knives were incredibly sharp – I didn’t even feel it when I cut myself!

Once the meat had all been diced, we cleaned up and Shelley served up a gorgeous lunch of pickings.  We had grilled Chorizo and another spicy sausage, cheese, and fresh fruit, all washed down with an icy cold beer!   Just as Matthew and I looked at each other and thought if they keep looking after us this well, we’ll never leave, it was back to work.

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We set out two mixers up side by side on the stainless steel trolley.  I have a Kenwood Chef and Shelley has a Kitchenaid.  I was really looking forward to seeing the Kitchenaid in action as I have heard so many rave reviews about them – and lets face it, they come in so many pretty colours and are lovely to look at!  The first thing I noticed was that all of the Kitchenaid attachments (including the mincer) were plastic as opposed to the Kenwood’s alloy fittings.  The Kenwood also had 3 different sized mincing discs to the Kitchenaid’s two.  While they both did a great job of mincing, it was much more fiddly with the Kitchenaid as the feeder tray was just too small to be practical.  You pretty much had to feed the meat straight into the tube of the mincer.  With my Kenwood, you were able to pile up a heap of meat on the feeder tray which made life much easier when operating it on your own.

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Once the meat had all been through the coarse grind, we added our seasonings to the first batch to make a coarse grained Fennel & Chilli salami.  We had put aside some diced fat which we then folded through at this stage also.

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Next job was the casings.  Shelley had bought a big pack of natural pig casings from their local butcher which were already prepped.  All we had to do was soak them in water and lemon juice and change the water a few times to get rid of the excess salt from the brine they were preserved in.

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Once they had been soaked sufficiently, we threaded them on to the extruders on the mixers.  I must say, Matthew was quite adept at this particular manoeuver!  Must have been all those years in the Navy! lol!  Yes, there were lots of giggles and snide remarks flying around the room as we stood back and watched!

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When we turned them on and started stuffing the casings, we really saw the difference in the two mixers.  The Kenwood was pushing out the meat at a very steady rate (which can be adjusted with the speed dial), while maintaining the textural integrity of the meat.  The Kitchenaid however was emulsifying the meat at turning it into a smooth paste, so we abandoned use of the Kitchenaid and only used the Kenwood for stuffing the casings.

We were all amazed at how easy this part of the operation was.  We all thought that stuffing them would be the most difficult part, but it was really quite straight forward.  And, I have to say, I was quite impressed with my sausage twisting and bundling capabilities – must be in the blood (my grandfather was a butcher).

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As these first sausages were a salami style and had to be air dried, we tied them off with natural fibre string between each sausage where they were twisted, and pierced any air bubbles that we could see.

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The final stage is to hang them up to dry for 6 to 12 weeks.

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The next batch we made were a spicy Italian sausage (to be eaten fresh) and our version of a Chorizo.  The Chorizo is supposed to have a high salt content for drying and preservation, and the addition of a bacterial culture to ferment the meat, however being our first attempt at sausages, we didn’t want to hang them all to dry in case they didn’t work out, so we reduced the amount of salt and omitted the culture all together.

By the end of the exercise, we had about 75 sausages for each family, and oh my, don’t they taste awesome!  I was amazed at how easy it all was, and really can’t see myself buying sausages from the shops again knowing how good they are when you make them yourself.  We were also discussing the idea of making up the spiced mince and then making it into hamburger patties if you couldn’t be bothered stuffing them.

Last but certainly not least, I brought home half of the bones and made THE most delicious bolognaise sauce ever!

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All in all, a wonderful adventure!  I really hope we get invited back for their next pig!

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