Sausage Provenance – the weak link in my food chain.

We were sitting looking at the view of Scotsman’s Bay in Dun Laoghaire. “Provenance old man.” said L as we enjoyed one of those barely warm, sunny spring mornings.  “Take those apple and sage sausages you enjoy so much. What’s their provenance? You haven’t got a clue, have you?” I had to admit that I had no idea who, how or where they were made. I have faith in my butcher. L is less trusting than I and he chastised me for my naivety. I don’t like having my shortcomings, real or imaginary, exposed. So I resolved to redress the situation by preparing my own range of sausages from scratch. 

Another thing I don’t like doing is anything by half. I committed to preparing four flavour mixes. I would produce Cumin, Fennel, Mixed Chilli and Smoked Paprika Sausages. Having procured the ingredients. (Bizarrely, given the provenance issue I got the meat and sausage skin from my butcher.) I decided that this should be a pretty high-class post. It should start with a well put together shot of the spices and flavouring ingredients.

Start with a beautiful picture of the spices. At this stage, everything was looking good. Nothing could go wrong…

Here’s what I used:
2 kilo’s of pork belly (4 lbs American) – Yes, perhaps I got carried away.
Plenty of salt.
Plenty of black pepper.
Plenty of breadcrumbs (to bind the ingredients).
A couple of meters (seven feet American) of pig’s intestine.
The above mentioned Cumin, Fennel, Mixed Chilli and Smoked Paprika.

So far so good. The first thing to do is to mince the pork. We have a very old Kenwood Chef with a huge mixing bowl.  I knew that I may have bitten off more than I could chew when the bowl was nearly full with minced pork.

I was beginning to get a bit nervous as the bowl filled up. How could I have thought I would need all this meat?

Anyway, as I was making four types, There would be plenty. I toasted and added the breadcrumbs. Now the bowl was just about at capacity.

Toasted breadcrumbs added. At this stage, I knew we might have made too much.

Time to add the salt and black pepper. I added what I thought was enough, mixed and fried a sample. Tasted. Added some more, mixed, fried, tasted. Added, mixed, fried and tasted. Added, mixed, fried and tasted.

If you don’t taste test, you can end up with under or over flavoured sausages. It also uses up some of the meat…

When I was satisfied, I divided the meat into four and prepared the other ingredients.

The fennel seeds being toasted in a dry pan. A brief spell of culinary enjoyment in the half day of porcine slavery.

I toasted the fennel seeds and ground them, did likewise with the cumin seeds, chopped the chilli and opened a packet of smoked Spanish paprika.

There is nothing like the aroma of toasted spices. This is the fennel being prepared for mixing with the meat.

I then mixed my ingredients with the four pork mixtures.

Red and green chilli added to a quarter of the sausage meat.

Beautiful smoked paprika added to a quarter of the mixture.

I was then ready to fill the sausage skin.

What did you think sausage skin is made from? Pig’s intestine, of course. Don’t be put off, it has been soaking in brine to stop it going off.

Having washed the preserving salt mixture from the skin, I fed it on to the sausage filling attachment.

Feeding the skin onto the sausage attachment. Trust me, it is not for the faint of heart or the impatient.

I know what you are thinking. You should be ashamed of yourself!

Side note 1. When you get given a sausage filling attachment, be sure it fits your 40-year-old mixer. Check that it is the same brand. If you don’t, you may find that there are ramifications.

It’s at this stage that things began to go a bit wrong. The photos don’t show the attachment bodge that I completed to get the Kitchenaid sausage filler on to the Kenwood Chef. Not easy when blood sugars are falling and everything in the kitchen including the chef is covered with a film of pork fat.

Everything looks to be going well. This is a lot of sausage for our household. And this is just the beginning.

I got things working with assistance from eldest daughter (feeding the mixture into the machine) her boyfriend (photography and ‘helpful’ advice) and youngest daughter (questions about the need for so many sausages when she doesn’t eat them).

Side note 2: Remember that 66.66cm (26 inches American) per person is probably too much sausage to prepare. 

I even had enough to practice my sausage linking skills. Not bad for a first (and last) attempt. What am I going to do with all the sausages?

If you have never linked sausages, there is a skill involved. I don’t really have that skill. Given that I had only had enough skin to make a couple of meters of sausages, we had plenty (and I mean plenty) of mixture left to make a range of pork burgers including pork and pepper, pork with chilli and pork with paprika, to name but a few.

Sausage produce – Burgers of various flavours now waiting for us in the freezer.

This little culinary episode took 5 hours of my life. There was a fair amount  of what I call ‘first time faffing’ but still this took far too long. I got myself through the closing stages by fortification with Shiraz.

If you spent 5 hours up to your elbows in sausage meat, you too would be in need of a drink or three.

The resulting meal left me somewhat embarrassed in front of the Wife. I had spent 5 hours preparing her evening meal and this is what I presented to her;

5 hours to produce the sausages. They were tasty but not 5 hours tasty. I was so tired, I didn’t make any gravy. I just drank some more wine.

The only saving grace was the slow cooked onions in Shiraz sauce. If you want sausages, I’ll send you a link. As for provenance – Next time, I’ll ask the butcher.

Now, anybody for a pork burger?

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Latest comments
  • Hi Conor. My husband and I are enthusiastic sausage makers. Yours look wonderful! Provenance indeed.

    • An awful lot of work. Perhaps if I had the right equipment?…

  • Yum! These make me homesick for proper sausages!

  • LOVE the first shot of spices. (I just love your photos every time.) My DH has been wanting to make sausage links for ages. We have the kitchenaid grinder and do make sausage but only use it ground for patties and such. We need to get the sausage stuffer one of these days so he can have fun with that too. I will be sharing your post with him later. I’m sure he will enjoy it as much as I did.

  • Your photos look great as ever, perhaps it’s because the important part is focused and the rest is blurry. Sausages look yummy. What does the Kenwood actually do to fill the sausages? I had never heard of using a food processor to stuff sausages, is that just grinding the meat for a 2nd time and catching what comes out directly into the casing using an attachment?
    P.S. Think you meant 66.66cm rather than mm 😉

    • Yes, part of the fail on these was the second mincing. And “Damn” I’ll fix the measurement now.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Conor – You make me laugh with your kitchen antics. I like that you had to Macgyver (do you know who that is?) the sausage filling attachment to get the job done. Bravo! I don’t think I will take on sausage making anytime soon. I only do five hour meals that I can walk away from while they slowly cook in the oven 😉

    • McGyver, that brings me back. A hero of my youth. Though, whenever, I would get locked in a shed with only a ball of string, a candle and some sticking plasters, I would usually just have to wait to be found…

  • I absolutely love the way you weave a culinary tale, Mr. Bofin. So disappointing that they didn’t turn out to meet your hopes but did it give you sufficient inspiration to give it a second go?

    The photos are amazing, as always…and yes, the one did leave me properly ashamed 🙂

  • May I suggest you take up golf (at a golf club that serves good sausages, perhaps) ? Much better way to pass 5 hours, IMO. Impressive though, and nice photos.Obviously you’re not working 7 days a week any more.

    • I have pulled back to a leisurely six and a half day week. This is my half day off…

  • Best blog of the week by a mile. Everything is great including the photos. However I empathise with the 5 hrs of your life to create something that looks like it didn’t – which is a testament to the skill involved right? As for pig guts I think there would be a riot in this house if i said tonight darling we are eating stuffed pig guts

    • Thanks for that. A lot went into it. Of course I have to agree on the skill end of things. We now have a freezer full of pork produce. The eldest and her boyfriend put a dent in them the other evening but there are an awful lot of sausages hanging around still.

  • Oh Conor – you had me laughing! I have wanted to make sausage for years and have the machinery to do it, just have not gotten around to it. I guess when I get to it I will start with 1/4 of the meat that you did! So, how did they taste? They look really good!

    • I think I cover it in “tasty but not 5 hours tasty”…

      • Still laughing, and shared your post with a number of folks last night!

        • Thanks Barb. I need all the help I can get. Numbers down these past few days. Not that I am concerned or anything…

  • I am impressed as always and you Sir, have skills! And yes, I am ashamed 🙂

  • Conor..please..please..put this on the list of things we make when I come for my cooking week with you in Dublin. My God man that cooked sausage shot is extraordinary

  • Good For You! I’m not sure I can do the same so successfully 😀
    We are also using pig’s intestine in Georgia – here is an image of it – http://bit.ly/Ietos3

    p.s. nice image of spices, love it.

  • Funny, I was only making sausages last week. I’d say the length of time might have something to do with your appliances, we did 20kg on a home mincer before and it was only after we got a professional one that we realised how much extra work we’d been making for ourselves.

    • I realise now that my approach was flawed. A bit more planning and the right equipment would be a good starting point for me. I will do them again and I will succeed. I hope.

      • Good stuff, stick it with it imo. We also air dry ours for a few weeks which adds a whole other level of flavour.

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