Let me start this post by saying that despite all the drama in its creation, we ended up with perfectly wonderful bratwurst in the end.
The Procurement Process
This recipe calls for something called “Soy Protein Concentrate.” Upon reading that ingredient, I thought no problem, Whole Foods will have it or maybe GNC. Publix may even have it. Think of it no more. And then I got to Publix, and Soy Protein Concentrate is not what I thought it was–some kind of fake milk or maybe a supplement. Instead of doing the smart thing then and there and ordering it online, I went to GNC. No luck. And Whole Foods, where after half an hour of increasing frustration and two stock guys help, I Googled what I needed the soy for. Hmmm… well, that’s interesting. Turns out Soy Protein Concentrate may or may not be this stuff called TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein. Or, it may be a powder in a big bottle that looks like the Creatine bottle. Or it could be neither. I left Whole Foods with a dubious bag of Textured Soy Protein that kind of looked like a bag of off-color lava rocks, but no real idea if this is what I was supposed to get, or if I felt good about putting weird rock things in my sausage at all.
The meat, thankfully, was no problem to source. Our butcher at Laurenzo’s Italian Market had the veal, pork shoulder and fat back we needed on hand and also offered to grind the meat for us and had hog casings in stock if we needed them as well. We opted to grind the meat ourselves, but the offer was appreciated. We didn’t happen to need casings this trip, having some left over from last month’s Italian sausage, but we will definitely order casings from them vs. online next time.
I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you are lucky enough to have a butcher in your vicinity, visit them. Visit them often. Butchers not only often have better prices on meat than big supermarket chains, they have better quality. Butchers, by and large, are also a passionate bunch about what they are doing and are more than willing to discuss the merits of a certain cut of meat for a particular preparation and will also make sure you are getting the best product for your money. Our butcher is great, and always more than willing to help with any questions I may have. He also does special orders, and can get most anything I could want in a reasonable amount of time. Special fancy buzzword-laden meat is great and all, but I will pick the meat my local business procures 9 times out of 10 for its freshness, quality, and to support my community.
The Sausage Making Process
The sausage making process started off great. We decided to forego the weird nubbly protein, and my DH (Darling Husband) chopped the meat smaller than last time (ending up with approximately 3/4 inch cubes), and we chilled the meat to almost frozen before starting. Working in small batches with the balance of the meat in the freezer, we processed the chunks through the die in the initial grind. This went much faster than last time and we were very pleased with the results.
We added the cream & eggs–wait, what? Cream and eggs in a sausage? Were you supposed to do that? It turns out that what makes this sausage emulsify is the addition of heavy cream and eggs. And here I thought it was white because of the veal (and didn’t even know it was an emulsification).
Ok, so the blending went well, as did the resting. And then we hit a snag. A big snag that led to a meltdown at Casa Cochran. Now, so far for us at least, sausage making has not been the most relaxing activity ever. Heavy machinery is used, so that’s a plus, but we have no idea what we are doing outside of the (detailed) instructions provided by Ruhlman in the book. We are sausage novices. When trying to pass the emulsified sausage meat through the Kitchenaid sausage attachment and into the casings, all hell broke loose. Only a few anemic wisps of meat would go through the feed tube into the casing, no matter how many times there was freaking out, yelling and re-assembly of the mechanism. So, after much arguing, a meltdown and one of us being banished from the kitchen, the sausages were hand stuffed. How, I’m not sure, since I was the one banished. But, my DH did manage (somehow) to bring out a big plate of beautiful coiled sausage in the end, so however he did it was perfect.
This go ’round we also tried two different way of making links: the way we thought made sense (while stuffing the sausage) and the way the literature says to do it (after the sausage has been stuffed). Method #2 sucks, though I probably did something wrong to anger the sausage gods, and I think we will stick with method #1, even if it means my nursing back pain self has to stand in the kitchen for an hour. Method #2 resulted in broken casings and meat loss. Not good, especially after the previous maelstrom.
And Finally, The Eating
We celebrated the Fourth of July with our fresh brats (simmered in Shiner Redbird Summer Ale), fresh Florida sweet corn on the cob, and a slight variation of Bon Appetit’s Fingerling Potato Salad
We also took our new ice cream maker attachment for its first whirl, making Custardy Almond Milk & Cream Ice Cream with Honey and Cookie Dough
Potato and Leek Salad
For original recipe, visit Bon Appetit
This recipe isn’t half bad. A bit leaning-towards-greasy, but not too bad for a summer evening. I think I’ll play with the oil amount and addition of even more spices next time. I’m thinking a hybrid frankenstein between this salad and my DH’s favorite potato salad from Bobby Flay.
1 1/2 lb. small creamer potatoes (white or red), cut small
Big pinch Kosher salt
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and cut into 1/4″ half rounds
Cap full white vinegar
2 tsp. dijon mustard
Palm full of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
Place cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Throw in a big pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool on a baking sheet.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, roughly 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
In your largest skillet, heat another 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cooks, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to crisp at the edges, approximately 12-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
While you’re waiting for your leeks to cook and potatoes to cool, add 2 Tbsp. oil, vinegar, dijon and red pepper flakes to the mustard seed oil. Whisk to combine. When the leeks are done, add them along with the potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper to taste.