There's an old cliché that says, "People who like politics and sausage shouldn't watch either being made." I watched Barnaby make the latter yesterday and I can attest that the cliché stands true. But the result is mighty fine, and actually quite lovely looking (and tasting!).
Having always wanted to make sausage we purchased a food grinder with sausage maker attachment for our KitchenAid mixer. The grinder produced perfect mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, not the glutinous masses that can easily result from over mashing, and was the easiest 8-pound batch of mashed potatoes I've ever made. Let me add, even much better and easier than a ricer. So we embarked on sausage making, or I should say, Barnaby embarked on sausage making.
We started at Uwajimaya where we found natural casings. I quickly learned that the ugliness of sausage making occurs before the actual sausage making begins. To be blunt, the casings look much like the first cousin of tapeworms. I have photos but decided they just weren't something your kind eyes needed to see. Let not this ugly part deter you! Be strong, sometimes good food requires you to push through a bit of grossness in order to arrive at divinity.
Barnaby, having studied in Spain, decided to go with a chorizo recipe for his test batch. He first ran the fresh pork and spices through the grinder in order to remove as much of the connective tissue as possible. Then, he cut about a 4-foot length of casing and slid it on to the stuffing tube. With a flip of the "On" switch we were in sausage making business! What we weren't expecting was the pockets of air that began to form in the tube. Think forced meat meets balloon making machine. We simply poked holes with a toothpick where necessary, per the manufacturer's instructions, and all was well. After about 5 or so inches of meat filling he gave it a few twists, then started filling again. Fun times! Let me tell you, homemade chorizo, with its fresh ground pork and succulent spices, sure does taste gooooood! Although, I have to say, I am a bit concerned as to how the ones hanging in our basement will age. Between you and me, I'll let Barnaby taste the fruits of his labor first!
Adapted from Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook
2 pounds lean pork
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small hot red peppers, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 yard sausage casing
Grind the pork, using the coarse blade of the meat grinder. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Using about 1-2 yards at a time, work all but a few inches of casing onto the sausage stuffer, then tie a know at the end. Feed the meat through the grinder and into the casing. Twist into links about 5 inches or so. If desired, hang the links in a cool place to dry. The dried sausage will keep for several weeks, or cook as you would fresh sausage. Makes approximately 2 pounds.
For another Chorizo recipe click here.