Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Charcutepalooza Project #6


This was actually a pretty timely challenge because Albany Jane had kindly invited me to a potluck get together for those that follow her blog and really enjoy food in the Albany area. Kind of fun way to kick off summer - meet people you have only virtually spoken to and eat. Everyone there was crazy-nice and the food was really good too. And since stuffing was the challenge of the month, I thought I'd bring some homemade grilled Italian sausage with roasted peppers and onions. Unfortunately, there will be some missing pictures to the story. While I was grilling sausages and at the potluck, the rest of the family was at my niece's baseball game with the camera.

I once tried the recipe for sweet Italian sausages as it is written in Charcuterie. I liked it, but I prefer a simpler version. I use the same meat/fat/salt proportions as the book, but I only season with salt, pepper and toasted fennel seeds. And here are the ingredients...

I toss everything together and make sure it is cold. In this case, there was still a partial freeze on the Boston Butt I was using. The combined ingredients go through the small die on the Kitchen Aid grinder.

The casings, which can be bought locally is small tubs at Price chopper and in smaller, but slightly more expensive packs at Roma in Latham and Pellegrino's on Central. I rinse the salt off and then soak in room temperature water for awhile (at least 30 minutes). I also flush the casings. Here's a shot of the casing filled with water.

Now waaaaaay back in the day...like 2 or 3 years ago for me - longer for my wife's grandfather...people used to use this kind of sausage stuffer. It is a very simple design. Kind of a horn shape that narrows to a tube and a plunger connected to a lever arm forces the sausage through and into the casing. It would have worked better for me if the stuffer was bolted down to something. It used to be on a piece of wood the got c-clamped to a table. But that piece of wood is gone and the few times I made sausage with this stuffer, the balancing act would probably have been quite a sight. Now, the poor thing is stuck in the basement with an old parrot from my tailgating days looking over it.

And the way the stuffer sets up is pretty slick too. Two bolts with the little pins in them are the connection to the lever arm.

The drawbacks to this kind of stuffer: 1-You'd be surprised how hard you have to push on that lever. 2-It can't hold that much at once. 3-You are left with a good amount of bulk sausage when you are done. The plunger can't push everything into casing. With the vertical stuffer, all that is left is a nice "job well done" snack for the chef. The main pro, is that you can get it really cold. The stuffer is pretty heavy and all metal. A few hours in the freezer and that bad boy is chilled. The vertical stuffer is significantly faster. This batch was about 5 pounds. Once I was ready to start filling casings, I don't think it took 5 minutes. Clean-up is about the same for both.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the grilling or the pot-luck, which in case I forgot to mention was awesome. Albany Jane, DerryX, and Lillimonster posted pictures and descriptions of the gathering. There's another one coming up but my daughter is turning 7 that weekend so I will be missing it. I hope I can make the one after that. I already have an idea of what I'd like to bring - a little teaser so I get invited again :)

I was planning on making some chicken sausage tonight and writing all of this tomorrow to meet the 15th deadline. As I started to figure out the proportions of ingredients, I realized I had forgotten one of them. Probably tough to make chicken with basil and tomato sausage without the tomato. I'll pick some up tomorrow and try again tomorrow night.

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