Please don’t avoid making sausages because the entire idea of stuffing ground meat into intestinal tubes is abhorrent! Have a go with the seasoning and create amazing meatballs or gastro-burgers. If Michel Roux Jr can create a duck burger then it's all OK! Now I did create these this week for a dinner where we served parsnip ciabatta (kind of gives it a sweetish flavor). The thought of slapping in a couple of sausages between the bread, adding a bit of salad, some meat juices and some red onion marmalade is more than appealing.
Making good sausages is really all about having good fresh meat, working fast to keep things cold (I know that every American article I read about making your own sausages involves hyper attentive instructions involving ice water baths but this is overkill). Simply work fast and keep things as cool as you can without giving yourself frostbite. The other key to sausages is seasoning – which is why starting with meatballs makes sense. When you have mixed your mixture fry up a little and taste it for seasoning and mouth feel. Now the first pass at this recipe made very lean sausages – not dry and besides you want things a bit lean from gamey sausages - but personally I would steer to a little more fat next time.
We made 5kgs of wild boar with 1 kg of fatty pork. 6kgs of sausages might be a bit much even for the most ardent sausage fan, so I have scaled it down here. The seasonings are personal – but don’t play too much with the salt because it is there for a reason. This recipe was sort of inspired by one of my favorite Greek sausages (involves red wine, chilli and orange zest) and also by my love of juniper. I find restraint quite difficult generally, but in this recipe go easy on the juniper to avoid sausages with a “soapy” flavor.
These sausages go great with a celeriac and potato mash or green lentils cooked in red wine and I really do think as meatballs or burgers sandwiched between good bread or popped in a pita they would be magical. I would be tempted to smoke these and in fact am curing a couple to see how they behave.
Ingredients for just over 1 kg of sausages (serves four well)
1 kg “ceafa de mistret” which is neck. A belly cut is also fine but then you don’t need the extra fat. Mine was from my friend Andras carnedevanat.ro.
200g good quality unsmoked pork fat
Zest of half an orange
150ml of gin
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp fennel seeds crushed (caraway (“chimen”) would also work)
1 tsp juniper berries (crushed)
A packet of “mate” (sausage casings which are available easily in Romania). Go for the medium ones not the thin ones which are fiddly and require a slightly looser mixture.
Time Planning & Organization
Sausages are better the day after (a lot of food is). They should be left in a fridge for the skins to just dry a little, preferably overnight but at least 6 hours before cooking. You do need to find a friend to make sausages - pushing meat in one end and making sure the sausages are being filled properly at the other end requires four arms!
Grind your meat on a medium setting
Add all your ingredients into a bowl and mix with your hands
Make a little “meatball” from the mixture and fry it to check and adjust the seasoning. If not progressing on to the sausage making, form meatballs or burger patties with your hands and then refrigerate them as this helps stop them falling apart when cooked.
Feed the mixture through your sausage making apparatus ( a custom built sausage stuffer or an attachment on a Kenwood or KitchenAid)
Let the casings fill and try and keep them even
When all the filling has been used you can now “link” them. Just give a good twist and then for the next one twist the other way.
To cook them you can fry them but I like to bake mine. This way there is less smell and mess and all the fat runs out having done its job of basting the meat. Prick them with a fork before baking. Bake at 180C for 15020 minutes until done but still juicy inside. This time we don’t want pink meat.
By Rachel Sargent, Guest Writer
Rachel Sargent is owner of The London Street Atelier, which organizes cookery classes, private dinners and offers catering. More about it here.
(photo credits: Rachel Sargent)