musings, mutterings, and creative muddle. . .

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu Monday: German Green Chile Sausage

Boy Howdy!  Did we ever cook up a storm yesterday!  And not just *cook* but made some sausage and baked a pumpkin-pie style dessert.  So many fresh ingredients abounded in the kitchen - was pretty tastily awesome!

So what about this sausage making, you ask?  We've made our own sausage for quite a few years.  It all started with idealistic plans of self-butchering a hog.  Yes.  Butcher it with our own knives in our own garage.  Well. . . maybe I should back up even a little further. 

We lived in Northwestern Kansas - a hunting mecca if you're looking for pheasant, quail, turkey, and deer.  We were (and are) a household of deer hunters.  Our house had a detached oversized garage/shop that was turned into a butcher shop every winter.  I truly have no idea how many deer were processed there.  It wasn't a for-profit enterprise, it was a place for our friends to gather and butcher meat for the freezer.  It was a great way for all of us to work together.

So fast forward just a little.  We got the idea, since we'd all gotten so good at butchering deer, that we could butcher a hog.  One of the fellas on our 'butchering team' had butchered cattle and a couple of the guys (including Hubster) had been around hogs while growning up on farms, so it just seemed like a really great idea.

Let's just say that ol' hog was much bigger than nearly any deer that had ever been hung in our rafters. . . and there's a lot of meat on a hog.  I don't remember too much from the actual butcher experience (I'm the meat wrapper.  I just do NOT like handling raw meat of any kind.  I'm happy to wrap and label, though!) but I do remember the pounds and pounds of all kinds of sausage we made.  We made little breakfast sausages, and larger bratwurst, and then left some 'uncased' to make sausage-burgers.  Oh!  We had all kinds - and lots of it too.  So tasty.  Eventually, as all good things do, we ran out.  And we moved - no more garage-butcher-shop.

Hubster did some figuring and checking around and pretty soon came up with the idea of just using pork shoulder or pork butt, whichever was on sale and the better price, from a local grocery store.  Many times he's been able to obtain an unopened shoulder or butt direct from the butcher's cooler - instead of cleaning out the meat case.  It never hurts to talk to the butcher of your favorite grocery store!

You will need a good electric meat grinder, sharp knives, cutting boards, butcher paper, a large container (to mix the meat.  We also used this container to store all of our 'meat-making-materials.'  That way it's all together), a scale, and sausage seasonings.

You can find sausage seasonings in some of the most unlikely of places - not just at some specialty grocers, or sausage making stores.   A general 'sausage seasoning' search will give you many results whether on Google, Amazon, or just asking at the grocery store!  And there are many-many different kinds of sausages - and seasonings to create your own special blend.  For a 'single batch' sausage recipe - this one's pretty doggoned good:  Italian Sausage - Light.   But we're talking about a 25 lb batch today, using some bratwurst seasonings and adding green chiles and a bit of cayenne for a wee-little kick.

Let's get started with that pork.  Here's a pork butt de-boned and getting ready to be cut into pieces to fit the grinder.

Cutting them into strips about 2" thick and wide, but leaving them longer, works well for our grinder.  We grind the meat using the coarse 'screen' so the meat comes out in a somewhat coarse texture.

After the pork is ground, in this case all 25 lbs of it, it's transferred to a large tub where the seasonings and green chiles are added.  The bratwurst seasoning we are using is pre-mixed and measured.  We're using thera tio of seasoning to sausage as recommended on the package (this will be a different ratio from flavor to flavor and company to company).  We're also adding green chiles (one small undrained can for each 5 lbs of ground pork) and a 'by-sight' dashing of red pepper flakes.  Add some water to activate the seasonings themselves, and blend-blend-blend.  The meat will be quite cold - but keep on blending.

Once blended, it's time to measure out your portions (we're going with 1 lb to 1-1/4 lbs per package) on a piece of butcher paper placed on a scale,

Then wrapped - corner up, corner over, other corner over, fold, fold, and tape.  The key is to make sure the meat is well-wrapped.  You want all surfaces of the meat covered (sealed, if you will) with the paper with no openings for air.  This helps to lengthen its 6 month lifespan in your freezer while minimzing the likelihood of freezer-burn.

Be sure to label each package with what it is and when it was put into the freezer:

Check back tomorrow for more about this tasty sausage, and a recipe guaranteed to make the most dire of Brussels Sprouts dissenters ask for more.

Have a ground-up kind of day ~

Robin Z

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