Monday, June 15, 2009

14 June 2009: Experimente Successfulle

The Framley Examiner would make occasional reference to one Professor Arthur Bostrom, who would meddle with the fabric of space and time, and declare 'Experiment Successful'. Today, I know how he feels.

We've made pasties, we've made clotted cream and so the next challenge was to make sausages. Not Bratwurst, not Italian Sausage, not Breakfast Sausage, not Hot Dogs and definitely not those 'English-Style Bangers' they make in Chicago, freeze and sell at Jungle Jim's. No, real sausages, like the award-winning ones at Uptons in Southampton. Maybe traditional pork, maybe Lincolnshire, maybe a Cumberland Ring, maybe something modern with apple or something. But the real thing.

The process began at Christmas, when we got an adapter for the food processor that would mince meat for us. First use for it was to mince our own beef, leading to a vast improvement in the quality of our mince. But overall, it was all about the sausages, and the plan was underway.

Next step: get a decent recipe. There are some places on the internet that claim to be authentic and genuine recipes, but a number of these sites offered conflicting advice - even down to which cut of pork to use - and so the answer was to go straight to the horses mouth. In this case, the afore-mentioned Upton's, home of numerous award-winning sausages.

Been to Upton's many times in the past. After Gloria moved we always got our Thanksgiving turkey on special from there, along with numerous other specials from time to time. The best experience was when Gloria wanted to do Texas-style barbecue brisket, and they brought out the entire underside of the cow (un-rolled!) and asked how much we wanted... and even knocked some of the price off because we wanted some fat with it to help it slow-cook.

So, we knew Simon and the guys there a little. And in I went, bold as you like, and stated that we now lived in the USA, so would he be willing to give us a sausage recipe or two since we can't buy theirs any more. Well, instead of telling me to head off into the sunset, he rather keenly started reeling off core recipes and variations before saying, "Tell you what, you'd better just email me and I'll send a few recipes over."

Duly did, and he duly obliged with a core basic recipe and answered a few of the controversial points in the process, including which cut to use: not belly pork, but shoulder is the best cut - a little leaner and with more flavour, especially if you can get a good pork like Wild Boar or one of the Old Spot breeds. And the meal: somewhere between ten and twenty-five percent breadcrumb, depending on how heavy or light you like the sausage.

And then finally, yesterday, the opportunity presented itself to get a good big piece of shoulder for a decent price (although no special breed), and the experiment commenced. Scaling Simon's commercial-scale recipe down by a factor of nineteen, the fun began. And you just know that I took photos so you too can join in with the joy of creating some traditional British sausages.

So, start with a nice big hunk of pork shoulder. Cut off about a kilo of it, getting a good mix of fat and lean. I stuck the rest in the freezer for later sausaging.

Cut the pork into cubes so that it can go through the mincer. I used half a kilo in the first and then half a kilo in the second run-through, which was the Lincolnshire Experiment. For each 500g of pork, I also prepared some onion (chopped up nice and small), a little salt and 1.71 grams of pepper. Our scale wasn't so great at measuring exactly 1.71 grams of pepper, but some internet calculations determined that it was equal to about three-quarters of a teaspoon. For basic Lincolnshire, add as much sage (in terms of weight, not volume) as pepper, which worked out at about one to one-and-a-quarter teaspoons of sage. For 500g of pork I used 100g of breadcrumbs, which as the mathematical among you will determine, gives a ratio of about 16%, give or take the amount of onion used. Rub it all together and chuck it all through the mincer...

Actually, I found the bread gradually got stuck in the mincer and I had to extract it manually, then mix it in by hand. Second time around, with the Lincolnshire Experiment, I just stuck the pork through the mincer and mashed the mixture together by hand afterward.

Then you just form it into sausage-shaped sausages, and fry or grill.

Hang on, what about putting it inside sausage skins? Well, this was The Experiment. The challenge was to determine whether it was going to be worthwhile making sausages at all. Only if successful would it be worth heading down to the otherwise-pretty-ordinary butcher shop on Markland Avenue and buying twenty dollar's worth of sausage skins (not sure how many hundred sausages that will allow us to make) and also the additional kitchen mixer adapter for stuffing sausage skins. And the news is...

Yes. We will be heading to the butcher and buying sausage skins. The first batch were a little too peppery due to attempting to measure 1.71 grams of pepper with a scale that only measures in 1g increments and even then is a little inaccurate... the second were the sage-added Lincolnshire variety and they were very, very good. Even Gloria liked them, and she's not the most forgiving when it comes to sausages.

So, another item ticked off the DIY food list. Next on the list - aside from more sausages - will be learning how to cure bacon. I somehow expect that to be more of a challenge.


andymoore said...

You realise that the end result of this will be you giving up your IT job to run a cottage industry making quality authentic British foods for homesick expats and adventurous americans, don't you?

DuncMcRae said...

Hello Andy!
What a fine idea. The bacon thing would be the clincher in any such deal, but on the other hand I'd also have to learn how to make stuff I don't like, like black pudding or haggis.
On the upside, I forgot to mention the other successes we had back in October, which were Christmas pudding and mincemeat, so maybe we could do those things too.