I’ve always fancied the idea of becoming a sausage maker or perhaps even a sausage meister, since sausages come third on my list of “if you only had to eat one thing for your rest of your life” foods. They’re so varied, part of so many cultures, that you could probably go the rest of your life without even eating the same kind of sausage twice. (The top two, if you’re interested: cheese, for the same reason as the sausage; and potatoes - not because potatoes in themselves provide infinite variety, but because I really, really like ‘em.)
I have in fact made sausages from time to time – using the above Porkert handcranked meat grander; a beautiful bit of kit, made in the Czech Republic, and heavy enough to be used as a deadly weapon. But it seems that the Czechs have a lot more stamina than I do (no big surprise there), and after half an hour of intense manual cranking I’m left exhausted with a lot of meat still to be ground. (You may make your own dirty jokes about all the above.)
So, it being year end, and not knowing what I wanted as an Xmas present, it seemed no bad thing to upgrade to an electric meat grinder – the Sunmile SM 833, made by Guangzhou Sunmile Industries Co., Ltd, their motto “Abundant Products for Your Choice.”
It works, boy does it work. – a bowlful of ground pork shoulder can be yours in minutes. And getting it into a hog casing isn’t much sweat either – plenty of lubrication is the key. (Ditto on the off-color humor).
I’ve also fancied myself as a smoker of food, and indeed there is a very small smoker in the house - a Minichief Space Saver 3 - though this in fact has always been more the Loved One’s province than mine, and generally used for smoking fish. But lately I’ve been thinking we should get a more ambitious with our smoking. Richardson’s Smokehouse in Orford, in Suffolk, is one of my favorite places on earth, though they smoke their cheese for six days and nights, their garlic bulbs for ten, and only ever used oak. I’m not THAT ambitious.
And so I am now the owner of a Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smokehouse – a name that overstates the case somewhat, since it’s only slightly larger than the kind of fridge you find in hotel rooms. But it gets the job done. The sausage was made, the sausage was smoked and the end result looked like this:
And how did it taste? Well, no point fibbing, it actually tasted a little bit bland. I was following a recipe for garlic sausage, but frankly I think I could have tripled all the seasonings, especially the garlic, and it still wouldn’t have been overwhelming. It could also, frankly, have used a bit more fat. Still, nobody, least of all me, ever said that making and smoking sausages was going to involve anything other than a steep learning curve. More reports as and when.