Thursday, February 14, 2013

Daring Cooks: Let's make Sausage

For the January-February 2013 Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Carol, one of our talented non-blogging members and Jenni, one of our talented bloggers who writes The Gingered Whisk, have challenged us to make homemade sausage and/or cured, dried meats in celebration of the release of the book Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn! We were given two months for this challenge and the opportunity to make delicious Salumi in our own kitchens!

I have been wanting to try my hand at sausage making for a while.  I actually asked for a sausage making attachment for Christmas and received one from my lovely wife so the timing of this challenge was perfect.  My wife also got me another gift that I used for this challenge, but more about that later.  There were a few things I wanted to try for this challenge so I was glad to hear we were allowed two months instead of our normal one month.

I started out making a simple polish sausage.  I made this using a little bit different technique.  I brined a pork shoulder along with a little extra pork fat in a salt, sugar, and garlic brine overnight.  When it came time to make the sausage I just added a little marjoram and a little more garlic.  I fried up a little patty to test it out and it was great.  My wife is not a sausage lover but she even liked it.  I think it had lots of flavor but a pretty simple sausage.

I was a little worried about the sausage stuffing but it wasn't too bad.  I used natural casings and used the instructions provided by Carol and Jenni for stuffing.  The casings were actually kind of fun to work with - like a big long balloon.  I only had them burst once and that was near the end anyway so no big deal.  I was using the KitchenAid attachment and I did have a little but of trouble with it getting big air pockets forced through.  I just went slow and kept a pin handy to poke some holes.  It was not a fast process but I was very happy with the final result.

Here is where that other Christmas gift came into play.  My wife also got me a very nice Masterbuilt Electric smoker.  I normally prefer fresh sausages but I thought I should take the opportunity to try smoking a portion of the sausages.  I used apple wood and smoked them at 160 degrees F for about 4.5 hours.  

Next I decided to create my own sausage.  I decided to make a buffalo chicken sausage ( named for Buffalo Wings - not Buffalo :) ).  Here is my recipe:

Grind 1.5 lb fatty pork (I used pork sholder mixed with some extra fat) and 1.5 lb chicken thigh meat.
Add 1/2 c Frank's Hot sauce and allow to marinate for a few hours.
Mix in :
3 stalks celery finely chopped
1/2 lb blue cheese crumbled
1/2 c beer

I then stuffed them into the hog casings.  I did have a little more trouble with stuffing the chicken sausage.  The celery would clog up the KitchenAid attachment so I kind of did it by hand.  Took a little longer but it worked.

I ended up cooking these right in the middle of Winter Storm Nemo and decided to grill them.  Nemo did not hit Minnesota too bad, but not a day I would normally be grilling on.  I was very happy with the results.  Can't say they were the best sausages ever, but pretty good for a first attempt.  My favorite would have to be the Buffalo Chicken - less spicy than I thought they would be but nice flavor with the hot sauce and blue cheese mixed in.  The smoked sausages came out a little dry - must have smoked them a little too long.

Very fun challenge - can't wait for the next one!

P.S.  I mentioned last month I was going to be doing the polar plunge.  Well my five year old son decided to join me.  We raised a total of $462 for Special Olympics MN.  That's us in the back and you can probably tell from the look on our faces it was very cold.


Jenni said...

AMAZING job, Todd! Your sausages turned out utterly perfect! I like that you were able to utilize Christmas presents for this challenge! And smoking the sausage sounds like a good use, too. My husband would love your buffalo chicken sausages! Awesome job! 

Sarah Galvin said...

Great looking sausages! I made the pancetta but will have to try some of the great ideas for sausages. I can't believe you did the polar bear plunge! I hope you didn't catch a cold.

Renee Foy said...

AH!  Those sausages look so good and that water looks so cold.  My 8 year old also did the plunge here in WI. I, on the other hand, just stood and took picture of him frezzing his tookus off.  Bravo to you on all accounts!

Olga said...

Grilling outside in Minnesota, in a winter! Good way to embrase the storm :). must be you who scared it away :) and very tempting good looking sausages!

Anna said...

Those sausages look amazing and I am floored by all the variety.  But your polar plunge left me speechless -- brrr!

Carol Ricketts said...

I am so glad you enjoyed the challenge - sausage making is truly addictive and I am more than a little jealous that you have a smoker...I used my charcoal Weber to smoke the andouille sausage..tedious at best. Well Done!