Cooking: Making Sausages

Making sausages has long be on my “to try” list.  They say that sausages and legislation are two things you don’t really want to see being made, but I was curious.  On hearing about my interest in sausage making, Jarrett Wrisley, food writer and owner of Soulfood Mahanakorn invited my friend Chow and me to his restaurant for a sausage making tutorial.  This was much appreciated since I have neither a meat grinder or sausage stuffer attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

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Halfway through the process, we have a few meters of sausage made and several kilos of bulk sausage left.  Which will run out first: the casings or the sausage?

Prior to starting out on the project, I spent some time learning about sausage making.  I borrowed a copy of Susan Mahnke Peery’s “Home Sausage Making: How-To Techniques for Making and Enjoying 100 Sausages at Home” from my friend Nat.  Then I did some browsing on the internet to find some recipes that sounded interesting.  The day before heading over to Soulfood Mahanakorn, I bought my ingredients, cut the meat into cubes and froze it (for easier grinding), and mixed the spices and seasonings.

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Chow and I met Jarrett at the restaurant just after noon.  First off, we enjoyed a casual lunch of freshly baked baguette, mustard, and ham that Jarrett had made in his new smoker.  Smoked with the cuttings from various Thai herbs, the ham had a fantastic flavor, perfect to set the mood for some sausage making. 

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First step – grind the meat.  I used two different meats, pork and chicken, to make two different sausages: Polish and chicken apple.  Chow made a third type of sausage, an herb and curry infused Northern Thai sausage known as sai oua.

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The ingredients for the Polish sausage: pork belly, pork shoulder, water, garlic, salt, marjoram, black pepper, dry mustard, and ground coriander seed.

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The ingredients for the chicken apple sausage: apple cider (reduced to a syrup), chicken thighs (with skin), dried apples, salt, black pepper, sage, dried ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dissolved chicken bouillon.

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Chow made her sai oua using her grandmother’s recipe, or at least as much of it as she was able to pry from her grandmother’s cook.  The secret ingredients she is adding to the ground pork include shallots, garlic, cloves, kaffir lime leaf, ground coriander seed, salt, fish sauce, turmeric, dried chilies, and a mixture of southern and central style curry pastes.  And if you think there are any exact proportions to this recipe, you’re crazy!   

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Jarrett fries up a test batch of the Polish sausage.  He explained that his cooks will just taste the mixture raw to check the seasoning, presumably spitting out the mixture after tasting it.  I’m not sure I want to be eating raw pork, even here in Thailand.  Plus, since you will be eating the sausage cooked, it makes sense to me to actually taste it cooked.

After we tested all three mixtures and were confident we had the seasonings correct, it was time to stuff.  No fancy sausage stuffing machines here and certainly no synthetic sausage casings.  We used pig intestines fresh from the butcher’s, which had been rinsed countless times and treated with a little bit of lime juice to freshen the smell.

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While I generally don’t consider myself a squeamish person, when you are making sausage with natural casings, there is no getting around the reality of what you are doing: filling a previously excrement-filled intestinal track with ground meat and seasonings, with the purpose of cooking and eating them. 

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Eeew.  Reminds me of those acts where a magician pulls an unbelievably long scarf from his mouth.

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Fun stuffing.  Instead of using a stuffing machine, we hooked up the end of a length of intestine to a plastic funnel, tied off the other end of the intestine with some twine, and started stuffing.  It is labor intensive, although not quite as much work as you might imagine.  The biggest challenge is that you end up pushing lots of air into the sausage.  Later, you need to prick the sausage with a skewer to let the excess air out.

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Perhaps a new profile picture for me?  “I will stuff your guts!”

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After about an hour of stuffing, we ran out of casings.  The result was about 3 kilos, or 6 pounds of stuffed sausage, which I later tried twisting into proper links with a modest amount of success.  We used only about two-thirds of our sausage mixture, though, so everyone went home with links as well as some bulk sausage.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the cooked links, due to operator error on my part.  (Note to self: you should not delete the pictures from your camera until ensuring they have actually copied onto the hard drive of the computer.)  I do have photos of one of my experiments with the bulk sausage: frying up patties of the sai oua and making sandwiches from them.

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Tawn was skeptical at first because “this isn’t how sai oua is eaten.”  Put it on a fresh baguette with some lettuce, tomato, carrots dressed in rice wine vinegar, a splash of fish sauce and a sprinkle of cilantro and you have a fusion between a Vietnamese bánh mì and Northern Thai sausage.  It tasted wonderful.

As for the overall sausage making experience, I would most definitely make sausage again.  The ability to control your own flavors and ingredients is worth the effort.  Next trip to the US, I’m buying a meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachment for my mixer.

 

0 thoughts on “Cooking: Making Sausages

  1. It is time consuming but certainly worth the end product – no pun intended. I did it once with a friend who sold fresh meats. I don’t think I would do it again.

  2. I’ve never made sausage, but I did try stuffing squid one time — I can well imagine the skills involved in stuffing sausage!  The recipe sounds yummy, too ~ ~ ~

  3. My mother had (has) an attchment for grinding but not for stuffing… I have never been brave enough to attempt making sausage but the apple sausage sounds delicious!

  4. sounds like a fun adventure, although a lot of work! i can’t imagine what it was like to work with real intestines… must have been a bit of a mental hurdle to overcome.

  5. This reminds me of the first time I cooked with fresh octopus; I kept gagging, especially when I accidentally cut into the head and excrement started leaking out. I nearly forgot to cut out the teeth, and overall the whole process was mildly scarring, haha. I’ve definitely come to respect people that can cook with raw meat without twitching like I do!

  6. Did you fry or bake the bulk sausages? That banh mi looks awesome. I guess mustard would not work well with this sausage. p.s. I think you need to raise your eyebrows if you want to use that picture as your profile pic.

  7. First of all, thank you to everyone for your kind comments. This sausage making was an exciting adventure and I’m lucky that I had friends to help me experience it.@ZSA_MD – That is very nice of you. I certainly don’t think my recipes are worth compiling, though… especially since I only rarely use recipes and sticking to them is an even rarer occurrence!@ElusiveWords – I fried the bulk sausage for some applications but for the sandwich (which I made again last night, in fact), I baked it.@secade –  @kunhuo42 – To some extent, I want to challenge myself to face up to the reality that when we eat meat products, another life was sacrificed. Back in university, I was a vegetarian for about two years. Eventually, I rethought my position and figured that eating meat was okay, so long as I was thoughtful and aware about what that decision meant.@iskrak – Labor is cheap here in Thailand, I guess, so using a funnel and manually stuffing works out okay. Actually, Jarrett mentioned that he used to have a stuffing machine but it broke down and his cooks prefer to manually stuff anyhow. Same is true for frying – he bought them a spiffy deep fryer but they prefer to use the wok!@DivaJyoti – Oh, thank you for the very nice compliment. I try to keep things cleaned and organized as I work. Always frustrates me when Tawn is cooking in the kitchen because his style is much more… creative? artistic? What’s the right word?@Inciteful – Thank you for the recommendation. Yes, sausages seem to be a part of just about every culture. Here in Thailand, the north and northeast regions both have several unique types of sausage. One I just learned about from a friend is called look rok. It is used as an ingredient in a clear soup with minced pork and shrimps. The look rok is made by beating eggs and filling natural pork casings (intestines) with them. You then boil the resulting sausage and, once the egg is cooked, slice it and add the pieces to the soup. The result is quite pretty. Here’s a link to a picture of it.@murisopsis – Upon reflection, I think the stuffing part could be pretty well skipped. Simply frying up bulk sausage in patties is good enough. When I do the chicken apple sausage again, I will add some cooked bacon to up the flavor a bit!@slmret – Squid = little sausage! =D@Roadlesstaken – It is all in the marketing, Alex. Clearly, a skill I need to work on improving. LOL@Fatcat723 – “End product”… ha ha. You’re funny, Robert.@AppsScraps – Thank you, Brent. Coming from you, that means a lot.@CurryPuffy – Actually, it isn’t exactly a glamorous kitchen. It is clean and all that, but it is on the third story of an old shop house, so the facilities are a bit retro. Still, they turn out some wonderful food from that kitchen.@The_Eyes_Of_A_Painter – How much of a commission will I owe you when I do eventually make that book? @agmhkg – Oh, dear… the bad jokes are endless for this entry, aren’t they? When I brought the sausages to one of Tawn’s friends’ house for grilling on Sunday, her husband kept making jokes about American sausages being bigger than Thai sausage. (rolls eyes)@Sinful_Sundae – Oh, you are much too nice with your compliments! Thank you.

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