Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Missing Link

Now that we have the requisite sausage pun out of the way, let's settle into the matter at hand. Recently I was asked to get involved in boning out, cutting up and turning into sausage five 14 kilo turkeys that had been in the freezer for a while. I agreed that this seemed to be a worthwhile project to get involved in and we set up a time to meet in the kitchen.

Sausages are a bit of a mixed thing, really. They can be badly made, full of filler, nitrate ridden disasters. Or they can be juicy, flavourful and redolent of whatever they came from, be it pork, lamb or poultry. I have even made wonderful seafood sausages. These seafood bangers were laden with cream and studded with bits of shrimp and scallop, flavoured with tarragon, white wine and shallot. Very good but very rich.

Which brings us to the first essential of a good sausage - you need a bit of fat. The usual cut for pork sausage is the shoulder because it has a good balance of lean to fat. (About 2:1 lean to fat) For the turkey sausages I ground skin, fat and all so the ratio was more like 1 1/2 :1.

Another way to keep sausages moist is with liquid. The last time I made turkey sausages I froze one litre of apple cider into a slushy like state and mixed that into the meat. I also added diced sauteed apple and dried cranberries - the result was excellent.

The second factor in making great sausages is they need to be highly flavoured and made of high quality ingredients. Fresh herbs, good quality spices, and excellent meat are all the cornerstones of a good sausage making.

For the casings I prefer natural hog casings. Collagen casings taste nasty and have a tendency to break. You can buy natural casings from any decent butcher.

Now that you have made or bought some excellent sausages - what to do with them? One of my favourites is a really good potato salad with sliced cooked sausages folded in. Coleslaw is also excellent with a good sausage. The sausages can also be used for pizza toppings, in pasta or simply on a bun with good mustard and sauerkraut. I am also a huge fan of toad in the hole. This involves cooking sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter with caramelised onions, mashed potatoes and gravy. Not exactly spa cuisine but fits with my culinary motto:"Wretched excess is only the beginning."

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