domingo, 24 de mayo de 2009

How to make sausages Part 4

So here's a straightforward, basic, traditional breakfast sausage recipe. As I've said before, the beauty of this is you get out what you put in so if ground clove or nutmeg doesn't do it for you, leave them out and try something else.

1 K minced pork shoulder

1gm ground black pepper

1gm ground clove

1gm ground nutmeg

1gm thyme

20gm salt

100gm rusk (I use the dried breadcrumb type known in Spain as 'pan rallado')

A couple of cups of water, enough to moisten the mix but not too much as to turn it into a pasty goo as you will then be faced with exploding sausages which is where the word 'banger' came from. Apparently, in England during the Second World War, sausages contained quite a lot of water and were prone to burst so if the Luftwaffe didn't get you, the sausage would.

jueves, 21 de mayo de 2009

How to make sausages Part 3

So you've bought a kilo of (minced) pork, it saves time if you can get the butcher to mince it once for you. Now you make up the secret recipe. There are loads of recipies available in THE BOOK or on d'Internet. A handy thing to have is a small weighing scales, the type favoured by anorexics and drug dealers. I got a digital one that measures in tenths of grammes. It's useful for weighing out spice, herb, salt and rusk. It's a good idea to make a note of what and how much you put in to a batch, this way you can repeat the success or learn from the mistake. By the way, you eat your mistakes. Useful guidelines are up to 15% of rusk, I use 10%, and less than 3% salt, so for example for a 1K. batch I'd use 100g. of rusk and 20g. of salt. Mix it all up and put it in the fridge to chill, you could also put the mincing part of the machine in the fridge too as the whole process works much better when everything is chilled. Crack a beer and chill for an hour or so. The skin should be soaking in water. Make sausages. Interesting tip; though I've never tried it, you don't need loads of machinery, you can actually stuff a sausage by using a piping bag, the thing your mother used to put dainty floral arrangements on birthday cakes. There's only one way to do it and that's jumping off the top board in Blackrock baths without looking down. Fresh sausages will keep for up to 5 days but it's always a good idea to freeze a few for a rainy day or if you want to impress members of the opposite sex with your handy work, assuming that your patois, chocolates and dubious choice of lighting and/or music are going nowhere.

miércoles, 20 de mayo de 2009

How to make sausages. Part 2

As with most things on the planet, you only get out of a sausage what you put into it. The raw ingredients are fundemental and the choice of them will only dictate how seriously you want your sausages to be taken. This is a kind of neat lifestyle philosophy which can be applied to babies or investment banking.

Skins or 'casings' as they're known in the trade are one of the secrets to a good product. Keep away from synthetic or dried casings as they affect the final product. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A VEGETETARIAN CASING, or at least as insofar as I've been able to find. All synthetic casings will contain some animal. More of that later. By far and away the best casing is fresh 'hog' or 'sheep'. It comes prepared, covered in rock-salt and in lenghts of about 25 M. Any you don't use can be covered in salt and stored in the fridge for later. The sheep casing has a smaller diameter so make sure you have the right nozzel for that. In Madrid I get my casings (and spices) in 'Casa Pajuelo', C/Atocha 95, Metro Anton Martin, they also do excellent honey (bring your own jar) and herbal teas.

Meat. It's a good idea to get to know your butcher and aquaint him or her of your intentions. Even if they don't make sausages, they will know where you're coming from. The best pork cut is shoulder ('magro' in Spanish) as it contains a good ratio of fat to meat which is very important. Don't think that you can make a good lean sausage - it's a contradiction in terms. A good sausage must have between 5% and 10% of fat to make it 'cook'. If you are going to use beef as well (good bar-b-que saussies demand this) splash out and get steak.

Herb, spice, rusk and sex.

It's a good idea to expand your spice rack and get in special quantities of ground black pepper, ground nutmeg, ground clove, cayenne pepper, thyme, cumin, salt and whatever you think would look good wrapped in the aforementioned hog casing. Oh and the sex, apparently hog casing was, and maybe still is, used as a prophylactic to prevent the spread of nasty disease as opposed to birth-control or worse still, holding hands and watching the sun go down.

Don't be put off if your first attempt looks like this. It was delicious.

How to make Sausages. Part 1

OK. So you want to make your own sausages - Easy Peasy.

First you need 'The Book', the best one I've found, or rather was given for Christmas is 'The Sausage Book' by Paul Peacock. It's published by 'Farming Books and Videos' and it's funny code is ISBN 978-1-904871-17-0. It's full of useful easy-to-understand tips as well as some demon recipies (more of that later) as well as some great contacts for supplies e.g. who I've used for bits and pieces. Another book, American, is 'The Sausage-Making Cookbook' by Jerry Predika, published by 'Stackpole Books', Ref: ISBN 0-8117-1693-7, it has loads of recipies as well as serious advice on curing and smoking.

You need a machine.

I bought the Anthony Wirrel Thompson Meat grinder and Sausage maker in Argos for about 100€. It's electric and does the business and can also provide you with great mince for meatloaf, burgers and so on, the BEAUTY being that you decide what to put in it. I regularly make 20K+ of sausage with this at one go and it's held up for a year. You can also get hand-crank mincers in any good hardware shop, make sure they provide the all-important nozzels for sausage stuffing

Sausages will travel

I asked The Irish Times for permission to post part of an travel article about Corsica but they never bothered replying so here are some extracts;
Corsica is a perfect destination for the hungry hiker, writes Elgy Gillespie, especially if you’re a fan of all things sausage.
But after a week of hiking through rosy peaks and dining on Corsican sausage wolfed on crusty bread by mountain pools, my hiking buddy and I threw our picnic knife down.
Enough sausage. Enough, we moaned, of wild-boar saucisson, of donkey sausage, of mule chipolatas, of pork terrines, pâté de campagne and rillettes de horse. Especially rillettes de horse. Assez de saucisson.
Why so much sausage? Wild boars and goats, cows and sheep wander Corsica’s canyons willy-nilly, grazing on aromatic mountain thyme, marjoram, laurel, lavender, lemon balm, scratchy rosemary and a strong local mint known as maquis . This is how Napoleon said Corsica smelled. If you are what you eat, Corsican pigs are made of maquis herbs, and Corsicans of sausages and maquis.
So we grazed on boar, extra-smoky liver sausages called figatelli , home-made coppa and tenderloin, wild boar ragout, omelettes of brocciu, or rosemary-encrusted goat’s cheese, and Fleur de Maquis ewe cheese with fig jam.
That’s just snacks – le fooding, as they say in France. It’s washed down with amber Pietra beer, perfumed with local chestnuts, maquis herbs and honey, rough red wines, eau de vie or, failing that, Orezza mineral water – iron-rich and somehow tastier.
Where to go
The Scala de Santa Regina. En route to Albertucce, this back mountain road winds around ravines and passes before eventually bringing you to the charming village of Evisa and from there to the sea.
The Les Calanches rocks. These red and orange granite outcroppings are on the famous coastal road from Porto to Cargèse, an hour northwest of Ajaccio on D81 to Calvi. Cargèse is worth a closer look, thanks to its strong Greek links.
Ajaccio. The port town is more sophisticated than bustling, vivid Bastia.
Don’t miss Napoleon’s birthplace, a fascinating place to browse (rue Saint-Charles, 00-33-495-214389).
The Fesch Museum. 50-52 Rue Cardinal Fesch,
Ajaccio Cathedral. Rue Forcioli Conti, 00-33-495-210767. This ancient building is never locked.
Beaches. The Corsican capital also has many sandy beaches, fine dining options, a good fish market and high- and low-end shopping options.
Hiking tips
For rando à liberte-style hiking, where your bags travel ahead to the next comfy bed, try Vagabondages (, 00-33-495-786519) or Grande Angle (, 00-33476-952300).
Buy walking sticks. You might think they’re geezer-like but you’ll change your mind when you are half-way up Restonica.
On the rails
For one of the greatest train rides of your life, take the Bastia route on the “trinighellu” to the citadel and Vizzavona ( corsica/uk/venir/move/fer.htm). From Corte, this tiny train winds around crags and past ravines and over Eiffel’s bridge to Vizzavona for €10.80. It’s an unforgettable ride.
Thank you Irish Times - I'm there next hols.

martes, 12 de mayo de 2009

Nuff said

Another bloddy telly chef

viernes, 1 de mayo de 2009

We do French

As part of the ever expanding Proper Sausage Corporation, we now do French. Well, it's my French homework for the weekend and what better way to do it than with a Proper ad'. Also it's the 2nd. May when the people of Madrid rose up and told the French to go and stuff a sausage in it. Although a lot of Madrileños were slaughtered in the uprising, they did manage to get rid of 'Los Gabachos' however, there are rumours of a secret meeting place in a bunker near Santo Domingo where clandestine groups meet to practice FRENCH and above all, torture newcomers with subjunctives.