The Sausage Adventure
As chronicled by
Okay, you've probably read my "official" redaction of the recipe
for Pork Sausages from Le Menagier de Paris. (If not, well,
this is the internet, so I'll just add a link
to that page ...)
Now ... here's how it really went:
Making a pound or two of sausage is hardly worth breaking a sweat over.
Making forty pounds, we discovered, is another matter.
Gwen-cat, Rivka, and I gathered at the home of Eleanor and Tanwyn, who
had graciously offered us the use of their fine, large kitchen. By the
time I arrived, Gwen-cat had already begun hewing the meat from the bones
of the whole pork loins that she had so cleverly procured (at 99 cents
a pound!). That task being done, we surveyed the meat, and decided that
it didn't look like enough to make sausages for the 160 people expected
at Crown Tournament. Back to the store we went, for another pork loin,
along with ice to keep the already-hewn meat cold until we could turn it
After a second trip back into the store for the ice we had forgotten,
we quickly stored the cut-up meat away. Then Gwen started hewing the new
loin, while I gathered up the supplies to make a sample batch of about
a pound of sausage meat.
Once the recipe had been adjusted and met our approval (there weren't
enough spices on the first go-round), we set the test batch aside and began
work in earnest. We set up our two Kitchen Aid mixers and started grinding
the meat. This took longer than I expected, since we had to take a break
or two when the machines started to heat up. Additionally, we had to grind
the five pounds of pork fat Gwen had also obtained (at no cost!), since
we wanted to make sure the sausage wasn't too dry. But while we were grinding,
there was singing to be done, and pleasant company, so all in all, the
task was not as onerous as it could have been.
While I finished grinding, Gwen began the task of rinsing the
sausage casings, with Rivka's help. (As always, this process engendered
no end of rude commentary ... <grin>)
Once the meat was all ground up and back on ice, it was time to mix
the spices. I had blended a sufficient quantity of Poudre Fort the night
before, but when we looked at how much fennel we had on hand, we realized
that we needed an additional two cups. Back to the store we went, this
time to Wild Oats for fennel from the bulk herbs section.
Back to the kitchen again, we ground the fennel, and mixed it with the
salt and poudre fort. But now, how to mix it with the meat and fat, and
still maintain a fairly even distribution of spices?
We finally decided that dividing everything into eight parts was workable.
So, one-eighth of the meat, one-eighth of the fat, and one-eighth of the
spices went into the big bowl of my Kitchen Aid, and I set it to "stir".
(Our measurements were probably not terribly precise, but were also probably
within reasonable limits.)
This worked pretty well, and meant that the meat was mixed with
the spices without making my hands ache. (I always consider this a good
Gwen and Rivka (who seemed to have a knack for it) started by loading
the well-rinsed and soaked casings onto the sausage stuffer tubes. We began
by using only one of the two mixers for stuffing, figuring to trade off
between them when they began heating up. However, the stuffing process
didn't seem to cause them to heat up as much as grinding had, and when
we were able to recruit additional help (in the form of Eleanor and Tanwyn),
we got both machines going and were soon producing sausages at a great
rate. To everyone's amusement, Rivka's sausages turned out very even and
uniform -- the making of pork sausage being an unusual talent for a nice
Jewish girl <grin>.
Once the sausages were twisted into links, they were counted and put
into ziplock baggies and returned to the cooler. Unfortunately, we
ran out of casings before we ran out of meat; however, we went ahead and
mixed the spices into the last couple of batches of meat anyway, figuring
that it could always be used later.
We had, however, produced about 250 sausages, 3"-4" in length, which
was more than the 160 required for the feast at Crown tournament. We then
spent an hour or so on clean-up, and went home, tired, but with a sense
(Note: A slightly different form of this article has appeared
in Serve It Forth.)