March 3, 2013
Technical challenge: Sausages
I love making things from scratch. Not only is the process itself therapeutic, but there's also this deep sense of satisfaction in being able to build something, complete from beginning to end. And in particular, what I really like is the learning. To take in the history of a dish, and to understand the biology, chemistry and physics behind its composition and construction. To see everything that goes in, and to appreciate the reasons why all of those classic combinations have become just so. Even more fun, however, is sharing the process with others, and when some lovely folks tweeted recently that they'd be holding an amateur sausage making competition, I was excited by the opportunity to hang out with like minds and share some ideas and innuendo over good beer and snags. There was just one catch, however, a somewhat minor detail - I'd never made sausages. Having dabbled a few times at various classes they were certainly high on my to-do list, I'd even bought myself a mincer some months back, but do you think I'd actually got around to making any? Sigh...
Naturally I should have just backed myself and taken them on regardless, but fearful of turning up sans sausage I instead sulked at my unpreparedness, and resolved to give them a crack as soon as could be. Luckily, however, I didn't have to wait long as, thanks to one of my favourite farmers, all of my sausage making needs were sourced very quickly indeed.
For the filling, a delectable piece of pork shoulder was coarsely ground and then mixed with a simple combination of fat, salt, fennel, nutmeg, white pepper and sage. There was, of course, a quick taste test, and then it was time to grab the bag o' intestines and get stuffing.
Barring a few minor mishaps, like rediscovering why you need to prime the nozzle with filling before tying off your casing, it all went rather swimmingly, and I was quietly chuffed to have made something that looked exactly as a sausage should do.
But as always, the real test is in the cooking, and while it's hard to go wrong when you work with good-quality ingredients, it was pretty exciting to create snags that were both moist and full of flavour, and that held up under the pressures of a hot grill. Yep, it's fun making things from scratch...