Friday, January 9, 2009


A week after the slaughter Neil invited me to a day of sausage making (and bacon curing and hock brining). Despite having only four days off in December, I eagerly accepted the invitation. What better way to spend a day off than cooking good food in good company?
For our sausage we had 30 pounds of pork butt (a shoulder cut, despite its name) and fat, 15 pounds of which we saved for Pete; an ancient but determined Hobart meat grinder; an even more ancient but magnificent cast iron sausage stuffer; plenty of herbs and spices and kosher salt; and a wonderful book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.
After curing the bacon, putting the hocks in brine, and grinding the meat, we took a break for lunch. It was only fitting to have sausage so Neil pulled out some that he had made a few days before. We felt quite civilized with our meal of homemade chorizo and italian sausage, good bread, locally produced chutney, and a nice glass of red wine.
Though they were all excellent, of the three kinds of sausage we made (garlic, country, and Thai) the Thai was my favorite.

Ron's Thai Sausage

  • natural hog casings
  • 5 lb pork butt and fat, cubed
  • 6 Tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 6 Tbsp scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • juice and zest of one lime
  • water, as needed
  • Soak natural hog casings in water.
  • Make sure meat is cold and pass pork butt and fat through a meat grinder set with a coarse plate. Keep refrigerated until needed.
  • Chop lemon grass and let steep in fish sauce while you prepare other ingredients. (This was Neil's solution. He decided the lemongrass bits would ruin the texture of the sausage, but still wanted the flavor so he put the woody bits of lemongrass in the fish sauce and then strained it before adding it to the meat.)
  • Finely chop scallions, ginger, garlic, lime leaves, and cilantro and add to meat. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, lime zest and juice, and fish sauce, straining it to remove lemongrass.
  • Add about a cup of water and begin mixing the ingredients together with your hands. Knead the meat until it has reached the desired texture, a couple of minutes, adding more water if necessary. The sausage begins to come together and get a little sticky. You want neither to under nor over mix. (I am writing this from memory and am not a professional. Consult Charcuterie for more expert advise.)
  • Once the sausage is mixed fry up a test patty and adjust the seasoning as needed. (It is best to let your sausage to sit a while before stuffing for the flavors to marry, but not absolutely necessary. We didn't have time and our sausage turned out wonderfully.)
  • Put sausage into stuffer. Wash out a section of casing, squeeze out excess water, and thread onto funnel of sausage stuffer. Leaving a tail of casing, begin to stuff sausage, making sure not to over or under stuff the casing. Leave a tail at the end.
  • To make links push the meat a little down the casing and twist away from you, move down the sausage a desired length and do the same thing, this time twisting toward yourself. Repeat for the length of sausage, remembering to alternate the twist.
I am now ruined for any sausage but homemade. The stuff I used to buy and even kind of like is now so obviously ground too far and flavored too little. Unfortunately I only have two of our sausages left in the freezer. I can't go back to eating that other stuff, so I guess it's time I made more.

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