“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.
Finely dice your apple and shred your sage.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.sausagemaking.org