This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to make sausages in casings. I give you:
Lamb Sausages Seasoned with Garlic Scapes, Mint and Lemon acommpanied by a salad of Baby Greens, Roasted Plums and Chevre
I still can’t really believe that I made real sausages completely from scratch. It was a battle. I manifested something terrible by watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre right before I went into the kitchen to start grinding the meat and stuffing the sausage. Blood and bits of gristle ended up everywhere, and the project nearly fell apart into chaos and disaster several times. This is also the first month that I’ve been doing a charcuterie project in the hot summer temperatures, so I had to fight to keep the equipment and meat as cold as it is supposed to be when you are making sausage. I felt complete panic, standing in the kitchen with a gristle-clogged sausage grinder, feeling the meat beginning to warm up, and, to my total horror, noticing the flies starting to buzz around me and the pool of blood. My dogs were in a meat frenzy, feverishly staring at me with wide eyes and drooling open mouths.
I shouldn’t be writing this on the internet to share with the whole universe. It was too awful.
I persevered. Like any horror movie heroine that lives to see the end of the film, I tried to ignore the blistering summer heat, the blood on my hands and bits of fat and gristle on my clothes and in my hair (!). You must continue on, since giving up is simply not an option. (Not when the meat cost as much as it did.)
Here I am, though, feeling slightly violated by the whole project but enjoying my sausage nonetheless.
I used a lamb shoulder that I got from the Owen Family Farm. They have wonderful free-range, high quality meat that fit the bill for a charcutepalooza project.
My original plan- which I still intend to make- was to grill these sausages and wrap them in warm pita bread with a yogurt-cucumber dressing (like schwarma, but in a sausage). I spiced the lamb accordingly, with garlic scapes, mint, lemon, allspice, cayenne, and coriander. I was cooking for one last night, though, so I just made up a simple little salad for myself and I’m going to do a big dinner some other night.
I used fresh garlic and grated shallots from the garden, and ground together a selection of dried whole spices. I used J.’s coffee grinder for spices, which I haven’t told him yet, and drives him crazy. The coffee will taste like allspice for the next five batches, but I don’t care. I need to buy a mortar and pestle, it’s true.
Mix the spices with the ice cold meat and it’s ready to go through the grinder.I put all the metal pieces of the meat grinder into the freezer for an hour before hand, hoping to fight off the heat as best I could.
In between these two pictures, everything completely went to shit. When I made pork sausage for last month’s challenge, I just chopped the meat into pieces like you’d use for stew and it ground up just fine. I did the same thing again, but somehow this time the sinew and fat immediately got tangled up inside the grinder. If anything like this happens to you, make sure to put the rest of the meat back in the freezer while you’re doing damage control. I ended up having to cut everything down into much smaller pieces and remove some of the sinew, and after a lot of swearing, I finally ended up where I was supposed to, with a nice bowl of ground meat nestled in a bigger bowl of ice.
After I mixed in some lemon juice and cold white wine to create the primary bind, it was into the casings, which had been soaking in the fridge for a few hours. I purchased casings from Avedano’s Holly Park Market in San Francisco, a fantastic little butcher shop in Bernal Heights.
I stuffed the casings by hand, which was messy and disgusting. I have a stuffer attachment for the meat grinder but I was so annoyed by the whole machine that I gave up on using it anymore. At last though… Sausage!
The biggest things I learned from the issues that arose during this project?
- If you need to stop grinding for a few minutes, make sure to put your meat back into the freezer to make sure it doesn’t warm up.
- Michael Ruhlman mentions this in Charcuterie, but I can’t stress it enough: work clean. I kept making a huge mess but I kept putting the meat back into the freezer to clean it up. This is especially important if it turns out you have flies in your kitchen that also want to take part in the charcutepalooza.
- Be patient and keep going. It will be worth it in the end.
Lamb Sausages with Garlic Scapes and Mint
Makes: about 6 sausages
Cooking Time: um…. allow plenty
- 2.25 lb. pork shoulder
- 1/2 c. ice cold white wine
- juice from one large lemon
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. shallot, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tbs. garlic scape, minced
- 1 1/2 tbs. fresh mint leaves, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp whole allspice
- 1/2 tsp. whole coriander
- 1 tsp. dried whole cayenne pepper (a small piece of the pepper)
- 1/2 dried bay leaf
- pinch of mace
- 5 feet of hog casings
1. Soak the hog casings in some cold water for atleast 30 minutes, changing the water atleast twice. Hold one opening up to the tap and run water through it to rinse it out. Set aside (in the fridge) in some cold water until ready to use.
2. Cut the pork into small cubes and put it into the freezer until it’s stiff but not frozen, about 30 minutes. Combine whole spices (allspice, coriander, bay leaf, cayenne) in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the wine and lemon juice.
2. Run seasoned meat through a meat grinder using the plate with small openings. Make sure to grind the meat into a bowl set in ice so that the meat stays cold.
3. Slip the end of the casings onto a sausage funnel and slowly push the ground meat through the funnel and into the casing until all of the meat is inside the casing. Tie off the far end and twist the meat to form individual sausages. Once the sausages are formed, tie off the other end. If there are any air bubbles you can pierce them with a pin.
Roasted Sausage with Baby Greens and Plums
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 1 lamb sausage
- a small bowl of assorted baby lettuces
- a few pea shoots
- 3 plums, sliced in half
- 3 tbs. crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. champagne vinegar
- fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Go pick some lettuce and pea shoots, and give them a quick rinse.
2. Toss sausage and plums in 1 tsp. olive oil and roast on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until the sausage is cooked through.
3. Drizzle greens with oil and vinegar. Top with sliced roasted plums, sausage and goat cheese. Season with some salt and pepper and maybe one last drizzle of olive oil.
Stay bloody, all you charcutepaloozers!