This is John. (John is the taller one.) Telling you about John would take a whole separate website, and I simply don’t have time to launch such a project, so suffice to say John is Bill’s best friend and my very awesome friend as well.
I’ve mentioned John here in various past posts, most recently in my last series of sausage-making stories. There have also been mentions of John in beer brewing posts, and probably here and there in other posts as well.
But I tilt toward digression…I need to pull myself back to the post at hand. And the sausage.
John arrived at our house Saturday morning with his whole sausage mixture prepped and ready to grind. You’re looking at a blend of picnic shoulder, bacon, herbs and spices, and wine.
It’s important, throughout the whole sausage-making process, to keep your ingredients COLD. Not only do you want to guard against unwanted bacteria, but meat is far easier to grind properly when it’s cold. Very cold.
Bill: “John, are you all set?”
John: “Oh, yeah, I’m frosty and crunchy!”
Hey – there’s our new Universal Meat Grinder #333 in action!
As it was appropriately frosty and crunchy (put it in the freezer for a while to achieve the appropriate levels of frost and crunch), the meat mixture came out of the grinder beautifully.
Every so often during the day I tried to take pictures of the sausage-makers at work.
In the picture below, Bill is grinding fatback, I believe, for one of the two sausage recipes he was working on. John is emulsifying a portion of his ground sausage mixture.
I love that our kitchen is well-used.
Okay, now once the sausage meat was mixed and ground and blended and mixed, it was time to make a test patty. Very important to taste before you go ahead and stuff lengths of casing with the mixture. What if it needs salt? What if it needs a bit more thyme? So you need to test it.
Plus – sausage!
So I cooked one, and we sampled it.
And guess what! It tasted like sausage!
A very classic, perfectly seasoned, fabulous-at-any-meal, sausage.
I think we tried another one, just to be sure.
Anyway, since the flavor was on the money, it was time to stuff!
John rinsed out the casings, which is kind of fascinating. I mean, yeah, we know that “casings” is just a benign word for “intestines,” and yes, we know what travels through intestines…but we prefer not to dwell on that. They’ve been cleaned, salted, and then soaked and rinsed.
And rinsed some more.
We have two stuffers now. Well, one is an extra function of the Universal Meat Grinder #333.
The other is the one John and Bill call Brahms.
Because the first time we were making sausage, it was so difficult to press the sausage through, different music was required.
Brahms’ Ein Deutche Requiem, to be specific.
No lullabies here.
With the aid of Brahms, John is able to power through the stuffing process.
Of course, it also helps that John (as he reminded me) is “Portuguese and has the strength of ten men!”
So much strength that he popped the caster off the bottom of my work table with all his manly-man sausage stuffing.
Ah, but look at the result!
As each casing was filled, John would stop and twist the links. I haven’t done it myself (yet), but you twist the first one in one direction, and the second one is measured out, but you don’t twist until you get to the third one, which you twist in the same direction as the first, and that maneuver twists the second one in the opposite direction.
Sounds complicated, but it isn’t really, once you get the hang of it.
Finally, you tie an knot in the end and you’re all set.
Ta da! That’s around seven pounds of sausage right there.
Oh, and remember that whole “strength of ten men” thing I mentioned?
He can also bend bolts.
John has graciously allowed me to share his sausage recipe, so I’ve got the ingredients list below.
I STRONGLY recommend you get yourself a book on sausage-making to learn the finer points. I’ve kind of zipped through the process in this post, and we’re still in the learning-as-we go phase of things.
The book we have is Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. The instructions are clear, illustrations are plenty, and there’s so much more to learn besides making sausage. Some things we’ve already dabbled in, others will be new adventures. We (yes, I speak for John, Bill, and myself) are SO excited about this new chapter in our foodie lives!
Anyway, without further chatter, here is John’s ingredient list:
John’s Experimental Sausage No. 2
5 lbs picnic shoulder
2 lbs fatty maple cured bacon*
5 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons tried thyme
3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons sauvignon blanc
* Instead of bacon, you could use the same amount of pork belly; just increase the salt to 7 teaspoons.