Monday 7 December 2009

X Rated Sausage Making

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” Otto von Bismarck

Good old Otto. Being a German he knew a thing or two about making sausages. Enough to know that sausage making is one of the most graphic things to do in the kitchen. It’s a sure fire way to push someone over the edge from being a happy go lucky meat eater to a raving vegetarian. And I'm sure there is a gag in there featuring Bill Clinton, but I haven't found a way to squeeze it in.

Cowie gave me an amazing sausage making machine for Christmas two years ago. But until recently it remained in its box collecting dust. I lugged it from London to Bedford in its wrapping paper, before opening it up, driving it to Somerset and then meandering it back to London. Once in London it moved between 3 houses as I played musical beds and has now travelled full circle back to my parents’ house. I could start a new blog, charting its progress, called Around Britain with a Sausage Maker and write it in the style of Chaucer. Or maybe not.

I spent a fantastic weekend back at home with Oli and Ed where we were supposed to build a pizza oven but got sidetracked by the weather. So we decided to make sausages. We went to our amazing local butcher called Browns of Stagsden and bought a pound of pork belly, the same amount of pork shoulder as well as a length of natural casings.

"Sausage making expert Oli" (in MasterChef voice over), convinced us to keep our sausages fairly straight forward with a pinch of sage, a smattering of apple and a damn good seasoning with a double handful of dried breadcrumbs to soak up the fat and stop them drying out. It proved to be very wise advice.

First of all, discard the instructions. They’re probably written in German anyway. Then assemble your sausage making apparatus taking care not to use the biscuit making function. (Whoops!). Grind your pork into a beautiful pink mince.

Pork mincing

Finely dice your apple and shred your sage.

Apple slithers

Pork mince

Then combine the lot, including the breadcrumbs and season the hell out of it. And then give it some more seasoning. A good way of checking the flavours are well balanced is to form a mini pattie from your minced pork concoction and fry it as if it was a burger. Then give it a taste and adjust the flavours and seasoning accordingly.

Then switch the apparatus so that the blade is removed in favour of a funnel. I challenge anyone to not burst out laughing as they perform the next task of attaching the sausage casing to the funnel. It’s like you’ve suddenly become a medieval prostitute engaged in some sort of bizarre futuristic fetish. Ed managed with aplomb.

Sausage casings

Sausage casing finger

Sausage pulling

Tie a knot in the end of the casing and get pumping. Moderate the speed of the machine to stop it turning into some sort of Disney cartoon disaster featuring a burly dog and a guy in a butcher’s apron. Twist the meat into links and voila. Perfect sausages. Otto would have been proud.

Sausage ties

We left the sausages in the fridge overnight to rest and then devoured them with a poached egg for one of the most memorable breakfasts I’ve had in years.

Sausages cooked

I’m now planning to make a batch of sausages on Christmas Eve and then give them to friends and family as presents. I’m keen to experiment with some interesting flavour combinations. So if anyone has any suggestions please let me know. Sichuan pepper sausages is top of my list at the moment.

If you want to find out more about making sausages check out


Hollow Legs said...

Brilliant! (and kind of gross) I am looking forward to our Sossidge (making) Party.

Did you find the meat to fat ratio right? I've read that the perfect sossidge should have no more than 80% meat.

Browners said...

@Lizzie - the belly was super fatty so that worked well. And the breadcrumbs did a good job of absorbing the "juices". Having said that there is plenty of scope for playing around with meat and fat ratios. It's the ideal challenge for our sausage (making) party.

Ed Walsh said...

Without a question, the best opening lines of a paunch post.

Browners said...

@Ed Walsh - Thanks Ed. I've always been partial to quoting Otto.

Graphic Foodie said...

Spent many an hour making sausages as a kid. Seems a bit wrong now thinking about it! Must dig out the old machine at my parents house. Not unusual but pork, fennel seed and chili are my all time favorite for home made.

Browners said...

@Graphic Foodie - "pork, fennel seed and chili" sausages sound fantastic. Classic stuff. Will add them to my list.

VicHoon said...

Mind bleach required after seeing pics 4 & 5 !

cwildman said...

Well done, they look fantastic! and yes you have to have a bit of fat in there or it just doesn't work. Venison cranberry & apple are good or Pork, Apricot & Thyme.

Krista said...

I love this post! Love that you're always experimenting. What are you going to do to top this? Getting a whole pig delivered and learning how to butcher it?

Food Urchin said...

You know what, add a video with some 70's muzac in the background and you'd be a bonafide food porn star! Great post, I would have been in fits of laughter trying to make my own.

Manggy said...

Fantastic! I probably will never own a sausage machine and will always rely on the butcher to grind the meat for me, but now I'm thinking of all the fun sausage parties I'd be missing...

Browners said...

@VicHoon - It is pretty graphic. But that image will stay with you forever.

@Foodie Farmer - It's all about the fat! Thanks for the flavour suggestions. I'll add them to my list.

@Krista - One day I'll go for the whole pig. One day. Next up is a lot of flavour experimenations over Christmas.

@Manggy - There's something very satisfying about making sausages. If and when we have a sausage party we'll tell you all about it.

Gareth said...

Sausage making rocks. We did a sausage-off with friends in the spring. A version of Graphic Foodie's fennel and chilli was ace as was a plain old sage number. The weirdest was a pork, prune and Armagnac. It was pretty rich but might work well as a festive banger.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Heh heh. I would love to have a go at sausage making. It appeals to me for all sorts of dubious reasons.

If you can make wild boar and apple sausages as good as those sold by Chadwicks, I'll buy from you instead ;)

Emily said...

My Green & Blacks cookbook (aka bible) says to try chilli pork and chocolate (a la Willy's Wonky Choc Factory) with coriander, sage, parsley, thyme, nutmeg, paprika, cumin - the works...!

Browners said...

@Emily - Chilli, pork and chocolate. Nice. It's now on the list. Great to meet you at the wine event.

will phipps said...

I tried wild boar and apple sausages recently. Much richer then pork and very, very delicious.


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