I feel like I have been derelict in my sausage excitement duties. Most days, the thought of a new preparation of pork, especially fatty pork, makes me squeal. This month? Not so much. I suppose it can be forgiven, since my mind has been occupied with a trip to Vegas with my love and my stepmother’s visit for fun in the sun–this girl only has but so much excitement to spread around per month. And, since the other two major events were time-related, sausage just got pushed to the side. I usually start these blog posts as soon as the challenge is posted and the meat is purchased–I just can’t wait to put virtual pen to paper. This month? It’s the 10th, a mere 5 days before the post deadline, and I plan to make my sausage tonight.
I am excited, however, about the Kitchenaid stand mixer I finally broke down and purchased. I’ve wanted one of these babies for years–ever since I sat breathless as a kid, watching in awe as one PBS chef idol or another whipped up a batch of almost-instant whipped cream or effortless bread dough. You might ask, if you’ve wanted one for so long, why not just put it on oh, say, your wedding registry? You see, I’m a planner. A planner and almost physically incapable of spending $300 on something I won’t be using every day. So, I’ve made do. I’ve rolled pasta by hand; made the rare whipped cream with either my trusty electric beaters or hand whisk. It helps that I don’t bake. Don’t really, even, eat much dessert. I’ve passed up recipes that call for a stand mixer for years–too fearful to even try things like fresh bread without one–and too frugal with my bookmark space (if you count 5,000 bookmarked recipes frugal, that is) to bother saving such recipes for a rainy day.
But no more. This challenge calls for grinding your meat at home. Sure, I could probably get my butcher to do it, but that would be cheating. I wanted the visceral experience the book intends you to have. I wanted the satisfaction of turning hunks of muscle into luscious, fatty goodness.
So, instead of buying a uni-tasker meat grinder, I broke down and finally purchased the mixer of my dreams–a 450W bowl-lift model in Empire Red. It’s jazzy looking and a work of industrial art. So far, it has made a pretty great pizza dough and looks beautiful on top of the cabinets as a work of art. Let’s see how the sausage fares.
Home Made Breakfast Sausage
This is the general ingredient list included in my breakfast sausage. For the complete recipe, ratios and method of making sausage, see Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.
Red pepper flakes
What Rhulman stresses in the book and what we found out while making the sausage, is that in order to have a good, cohesive sausage, you must keep everything cold. On ice is fine; almost freezing would be even better. The machine gets molten hot while grinding (go fig).
The verdict: Nice. Much better than I had expected. I generally abhor breakfast sausage–I was ruined on Jimmy Dean as a kid, and I must say I’ve never really gotten over it. I’m a bacon girl.
This sausage is nice. Light, a little tart from the ginger. I could live with the sage being chopped smaller, but it’s not enough of a deal to not like the sausage. This is a perfectly nice sausage to serve in place of Italian sausage or alongside anything you would normally serve with breakfast sausage. It’s not Neese’s, but it beats the heck out of Jimmy Dean.
I served my first batch (that wasn’t eaten over the stove) with a variation on a recipe for One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf from Food52.
2 c. salted water
1 c. washed quinoa
8 oz. chopped kale
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 orange, juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
3 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1/4 c. Feta cheese
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
2 2 oz. patties fresh breakfast sausage, cooked
Bring the water to boil in a covered steep-sided pan. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until just simmering. Simmer 10 mins., top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer 5 minutes more, turn off the heat, and stem an additional 5 mins. or until the kale is just tender and the water is absorbed.
While your quinoa is cooking, combine the lemon and orange juices in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, scallions, oil, pine nuts, red pepper flakes and feta.
Add the pilaf to the bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve topped with a 2 oz. patty of fresh breakfast sausage.
Serves 2 for dinner with enough left over for lunch.