You Don't Want To Know
We made sausage. Man, did we ever make sausage! On July 4, 2011 we flew the giant American flag I bought at a garage sale and declared our independence from store bought sausages by making our own.
Pals Sari and Jeff (the cutest new couple on earth, by the way) lugged Jeff's wonderful KitchenAid mixer over to our house, along with pounds and pounds of meat, natural casings (which is a polite term for animal intestines) and extra fat for making sausages. I had the requisite spices and herbs on hand so we went to work while Cora and Jeff's rescued greyhound, Katie Bugs, kept close tabs on the proceedings.
We made three kinds - spicy Italian-style pork sausages with fennel seeds, lamb sausages with rosemary and juniper berries, and chicken sausages with curry flavors. While we had Jeff's grinder attachment going, we also ground some beef for hamburgers, but the main event was the sausages.
Someone wise once said that it's better not to know what goes into making sausages; ignorance is best. I guess that's true if you don't make your own. Once you actually see what goes in, it's easy to understand how unscrupulous people could add just about any scary thing to the mix. But when you grind, season and stuff your own, it's comforting because you know exactly what went in. No fillers. No mysteries. Just good ingredients, carefully handled.
That's not to say there isn't a positive disgust factor, not to mention a certain amount of schoolboy hilarity, as the makings are forced into the casings. Scatological and sexual innuendos aside, it's an interesting process that we all enjoyed. We got our hands messy, we all took a turn at all the stages of the process and we all giggled uncontrollably at the suggestive noises and double entendres, proving that none of us has a sophisticated sense of humor.
The recipes for the lamb and Italian sausages are here, thanks to National Public Radio's Kitchen Window feature. I will say that the 3 Tablespoons of salt* called for in the Italian sausage recipe may be too much for your taste - it certainly was for ours! That sausage will make the base for some future pasta sauce to dilute the salt. Other than that, it was really delicious and quite delightfully spicy.
The lamb sausage recipe is just perfect as written - deeply flavorful with a wonderful tang from the rosemary and juniper berries. Jeff flew by the seat of his pants on the chicken/curry sausages, so you'll need to be brave to imagine how to replicate those but it will be worth the risk - that curry/chicken sausage might have been my favorite of the three.
We are ridiculously pleased with ourselves, as well as replete with wonderful sausages. We grilled all three kinds and feasted on the fruits of our labors after freezing at least half of our product for a later day. It made for a memorable and scrumptious Independence Day.
*I figured out why ours were so salty - I used regular table salt instead of kosher salt and the smaller grains=more salt in the recipe. Use kosher salt, or reduce the salt in the recipe when you make them.