Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Houston, We've Got Sausage

I have a list. It's a list of things I can stop buying at the grocery store because I know how to make them. Sausage is on that list.

Explaining why in the world I bother making my own sausage is difficult. I guess, I'm just a DIYer at heart. I love the feeling of satisfaction knowing I've created something that tastes great and can stand up to anything that is commercially available. Or, as a friend jokingly said, I'm subconsciously preparing myself for the remote chance that, if some cataclysmic event were to wipe out all the grocery stores, my family would still be able to eat well. Hadn't thought of it that way before, but hey, maybe it's true.

But who has the time to track down all the stuff that's needed and do all that work?

I won't lie. As with anything, getting started is always the hardest part, but if you are so inclined and have enough money, everything can be ordered online. If you're not independently wealthy, expect a little more legwork. Really though, after finding a dependable source for raw ingredients and getting everything else together, the process is straightforward and it gets easier every time. What started out as an all day affair now only takes about 2 to 3 hours, depending on how much and how many types of sausage I make. Not bad considering the fruits of my labor last at least a month or two.

If you are looking for a recipe for a particular type of sausage, you will surely find it online. I have a long to-make list myself, but no matter what other types of sausage I make, I usually put about a pound or two ground meat aside to make what I call all-purpose sausage. The seasonings for this all-purpose sausage are simple, just garlic and salt, maybe pepper if I'm in the mood or don't forget. This is the sausage I can pull out if I need a particular type of sausage but don't have it on hand. Want to make a pasta dish but don't have Italian sausage? Use all-purpose sausage and add thyme and/or oregano in during cooking. Want to make an Asian omelette stuffed with sausage? Use all-purpose sausage and add some grated lemongrass and minced ginger. Need breakfast patties? Just add some spices to the all-purpose sausage and you're ready to go! Craving a simple, savory sausage to eat on a bun with all the fixings? Bust out the all-purpose sausage!

Brilliant, isn't it?

Here are the guidelines to make all-purpose sausage: for every pound of pork (I like butt or shoulder), use 1/4 pound back fat, 7 grams kosher salt, 1 clove garlic and 1/4 cup cold stock or water. Grind the meat, season, add the liquid then shove it into a casing...or not. How easy is that?

Easy summer pasta: Slice and sauté 2 pre-cooked links sausage (or use about 1/3 to 1/2  lbs bulk sausage) in a little olive oil. Add sliced bell pepper and 2 cloves minced garlic. After about a minute, add the cooked pasta and about 1 tbs fresh chopped herbs. Add a little of the hot pasta water (maybe about 1/3 to 1/2 cup) to loosen and moisten the pasta. Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon or two butter. Stir thoroughly and serve immediately topped with fresh grated Parmesan and cracked black pepper.

Other sausages you may enjoy:
Fermented Isaan Sausages
Thai sausage (non-fermented)

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