Posted by: A Part of the Solution | October 4, 2010

The Subject was Sausage

I’m not talking about wurst here. Wurst are generally smoother and more lightly seasoned than sausages. I’m talking about a chunkier ground product in a casing with lots of herbs and spices. I’m talking about boudin blanc the way they do it in Acadiana. I’m talking about Italian sausage such as is featured on the best pizzas. I’m talking about breakfast sausage, and garlicky Polish sausage. I’m talking Andouille. I’m talking Chorizo. And I’m new to all of this.

So how am I figuring out the right balance of flavors and proportions, so that with our next hog we can send along our own spice blends, sans MSG and sans preservatives? Well, I’m combing the internet for existing recipes. And I’m reading the charcuterie sections of various cookbooks and cooking encyclopedias in my possession. The variety of possible flavorings is staggering, and reassuring.

I am comforted by tomes which assume I have mace on hand to scale out by the ounce. I’m interested in recipes which call for a pound of fennel for every seventy-five pound weight of ground Bobby. I am delighted by those formulas calling for red wine (cold) by the bottle. And I’m ready to take my 20-25 pounds of unseasoned ground butt and heart and break it out into a number of different lots to try what I may.

As I understand the process, the cold ground is tossed, tossed mind you, with the dry spice mixture and either water or wine or vinegar or some combination. Don’t forget to keep the liquids cold. Do remember to be suspicious of recipes which don’t give you this much information. I’ve seen plenty of sites which adjure the reader to ‘combine all ingredients, mix well and stuff into hog casings.’ Sadly, that sentence is the sum and total of their advice to the home sausage maker. Don’t believe instructions which seem too simple to be true. They are indeed, not as good as one would wish.

Sausage is a good way of being sure to use a great deal of any animal in question. The strong spices and interesting bits of seeds and corms make all manner of odds and ends more than palatable. By this means, they are made delectable.

Since we are still in the business of going to a lot of trouble to make the very best sausages we can, I hope we’ll be able to set up a rig to smoke some of the charcuterie I plan to execute across the next few weeks. Once I have a complete sampler on hand, maybe I’ll send a selection down to some of my favorite chefs. They’ve missed out on our first hog, but there will be more where Bobby came from. And I plan to grow fennel every season to come–as I do approve of the flavor of fresh fennel in my spicy Italian sausage.

Our expanded herb garden next year will go a long way to filling the volume order of various herbs required for the better sausages named above. It’s not all about the spices of the East. Sausage making is also about what grows outside in the garden.

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