Sausage making, Round 1

There was one food I really missed while living in London, bagels. The food my husband misses: English-style pork sausages, especially Cumberland sausages.

(This is a traditional Cumberland Sausage: a giant, tasty meat coil)

We have looked in all kinds of grocery stores for English-style pork sausages.  While he does like the German or Italian-style sausages available in most stores, they do not have the same flavor, texture or appearance as an English sausage.

So we decided to make our own.  We happen to have a grinder and one of those sausage stuffer attachments for our mixer.  After reminding myself of the flavors during our last trip to the U.K., I decided to try making my own sausages.  We went to Savenor’s on Kirkland Street in Cambridge and picked up some sausage casing.  Be forewarned: casing looks like some dirty condoms you might see on the side of the street.  A small packet of casing was almost seven dollars, but there was a surprising amount of casing in that little container and a little goes a long way.

(case in point: casing that looks really used…)

Sausage casing can be vegetal or synthetic, but traditional casing is actually the outer lining of hog or sheep intestines.  When I first learned this, frankly, I thought it was gross.  Since I have always loved sausages and unbeknownst to me, have probably consumed a fair amount of animal intestine over the years with great delight, I figured now was not the time to get squeamish about it.  If I am willing to eat casing, I should be willing to touch it, even though the raw material looks like something I would not pick up off the street if you paid me.

Casing does not feel or smell as gross as it looks.  Casing is packed in salt to preserve it, so be sure to soak the casing in water prior to use.  If you don’t, the sausage will taste like a salt lick.  Proper sausages are made with pork shoulder and belly, but I wanted to work with a more familiar, lean cut, so I used pork chops.

The result was fantastic, really flavorful and juicy.  They weren’t proper Cumberlands, but they were great in their own right.

Recipe:

1 lb pork cut into strips

1 rosemary sprig, strip the leaves and discard the stem

2 cloves peeled garlic

1 large peeled shallot

2 Tbsp salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

¼ tsp paprika

¼ tsp clove

½ tsp coriander

Steps:

1. Cut off a section of the casing and place in a bowl of cold water.  I recommend about two and a half feet per pound of meat (you can freeze the rest).  Soak for at least 30 minutes.  It is ok to leave it in there longer.  While the casing is de-salting…

2. Cut the meat into strips and put in freezer for 20-30 minutes.  This firms the meat and makes it easier to grind up.

3. Feed the rosemary, garlic, shallots and pork through the grinder.  If the meat coming through the grinder starts to appear gummy, stop and place the meat strips in the freezer for a few minutes.  Make sure any fat is really firm (cold) when it goes through the grinder.

4. Add the remaining ingredients to the ground meat and gently work together by hand.

5. Place the mixture in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  While that chills…

6. Rinse the casing and feed it onto the stuffing tube.  Put a little knot in the end of the casing to prevent the meat from slipping out at the bottom.

7. Start feeding the meat through the grinder / stuffer into the casing.  Pinch the casing where you want to start a new link.

8. After the sausages are formed, trim the excess casing with kitchen shears.

9.  Put a little butter and canola oil in a pan, over medium heat.  Add a sliced onion.  Sautee the sausages until golden on the outside and no longer pink inside.

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