Allrighty then! This will be my first official blog in english. To give you a little background information I have had a popular food blog in Iceland for the past five years. And yes, it is written in icelandic! Now I want to try to expand my readership. Maybe there is room for another foodblogger out there, and who knows... that might as well be me? I have a lot of material which I have to translate and backlog. I have blogged over 400 posts in the past five years - over 700 pages of written material and few thousand photographs. So...the longer I wait - more blogs will need to be translated - so lets get cracking!
It has been quite a while since I last made my own sausages. I seem to recall some kitchen adventure seven years ago - when I was working as a physician at the anesthesiologist dept. at our national hospital. Inspired my one of my colleagues, Dr. Hjördís Smith, who is a monster gourmet - I loaned her sausage making equipment and tried making both a french and an Italian sausage. I think they tasted fine - but somehow my interest in sausage making fell in to a long and deep slumber - till last weekend.
In the past years I have learned a lot about cooking and read a great deal about both charcuterie and sausage making (please take my word for it - proof will arrive in the coming months when I translate my blog). I even acquired a special sausage making funnel to attach to my Kitchenaid meat grinder. So all has been ready and waiting for me to give sausage making another go!
Sweden has a long tradition of making sausages. My butcher, Hans at Holmgrens, in Lund makes lovely sausages. We have become acquaintances and asked if he could help me provide some natural sausage casings! No problem he said - and couple of days later 4 kg af pork belly and 5 m of sausage casings was waiting for me at the butcher. It was a go!
The key to a good sausage is the quality of produce you use (that rule applies to all cooking). Good sausages requires a certain amount of fat. And we all know that cooked pork fat is a delicious (even though I am a doctor I will offer no counselling on health and disease - just the pure joy of cooking, eating and drinking). When browsing through various recipes and numerous websites I came to the conclusion that 30% was the golden number - seldom less often more. My butcher said that pork belly would make a perfect sausage - and after tasting the results I think he was right. The pork I used is displayed in the picture - it is debatable weather or not is has the magic number of 30% - I allow my readers to decide.
Homemade Cumberland sausages, potatomash and onion gravy - Banger's and Mash baby!
Cumberland sausages are originally from Cumbria. According to various sources there are many different recipes depending where in the county one askes but all share a common thread of the use of pork, sage and nutmeg (mace). Different authors add different complementary ingredients - but to be called Cumberland sausages they must be made in Cumbria. Well so I am told - mine were made in Lund in Southern Sweden and I am still going to call them Cumberland sausages to honor their orgin!
Firstly, slice the pork belly into pieces so it will fit into the grinder. My son, Vilhjálmur Bjarki (called Villi - 6 yrs old) was eager to help. He washed his hands thoroughly and put on his blue apron I bought him last fall and he started his kitchen duties proudly and grinded pork by the pounds with a smile on his face.
And it worked a treat. It didn't take him long to master the process and starting to teach others on how the grinding is done. We were in business!
In my opinion it is important not to grind the meat to finely. We're not looking for the same texture as you would expect from a hot dog. The meat is to be course so one can easily appreciate how "meaty" it really is!
Secondly, you mix other ingredients into the meat. For the cumberlands we used 2 kg of meat and added 200 gr of fresh bread crumbs, 200 ml of water, 20 gr of fine salt, 20 gr of grinded pepper, 10 gr of dried sage, 10 gr af ground nutmeg. To claim the sausage and brand it as our own I added 2 gr of hot spanish paprika and 5 gr of garlic powder. The meat is mixed religiously so all its components are well combined! My son, Villi, was adamant about mixing the sausage meat together.
It is important at this point to take a step back and taste the sausage. That is easily done by frying a small bit in a little butter and then checking for seasoning. If something is missing - here is the chance to fix it. But I added nothing, it was perfect as it was.
I mentioned that i purchased 5 m of sausage casings. That was ample for 2 kg of meat. The casings are real pigs intestines that have been cleaned thoroughly. You clean the again yourself off course, they are immersed in water for one hour and then you run water through them two or three times. The next step is to put them on the sausage funnel and begin to stuff the sausage into the casings.
We made both a wheel and some links. It worked like a charm. We cooked half of the sausages that evening but the rest we saved for later.
I placed the sausages in pre-heated oven, 180 degrees. I had places the oven draw in the oven while it was warming up so it was nice and hot when I placed the sausage on it. When the oven was warm I put a little oil on the oven draw so the sausage wouldn't stick and burn to it. The sausage must be punctured here and there with a sharp knife or metal rod so the sausage won't burst while cooking. It needed about 40 minutes in the oven.
We served mashed potatoes with the sausage as is required by english law. Boiled 1 kg of peeled potatoes in salted water till ready. Drained the water and then mashed the potatoes with little milk (add as needed), knob of butter, salt, pepper and mashed clove of garlic.
I also made some simple onion gravy. Sliced 3 large onions and fried gently in butter/oil for about 10 minutes taking care not to burn the onions. When soft and delightful add 2 tablespoons sugar and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add just over a 1/2 L of potent beef stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper and thicken as needed. Voila - ready!
This is simple food at its best. And it is absolutely delicious. We also served the sausages with a few types of mustards, jam and a dash of ketchup. And nobody will get injured by serving it up with pickled gherkins or onions!
This type of food is best appreciated with some good beer! The drank some American ale from California, Anchor Steam and Liberty Ale from San Francisco. Maybe we should have drunk some english ale with sausages - but this is what was at hand - and there is no reason to complain as the beer was also quite delicious.
P.s. The leftovers were turned into a treat the very next day. We made sausage roll. You roll the sausage in pastry and bake on a warm oven drawer till the pastry is golden brown. We had to be busy at the gym the following week to pay for these sins!