As the extraordinary warm spring weather turned to typical spring, with rainy cool days to follow, I thought of sausages.
Many years ago when I was living in Connecticut, the “Culinary Historians of Connecticut” got together to make sausages. I made “Fine Sausage” from Directions for Cookery; Albin Weber made “Hungarian ‘Yard’ Sausage;” Sandy Oliver made ”Creole Chaurice Sausages.” Warner Lord made” To Make a Common Sausage,” from The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy; Margot made “Oxford Sausage” and another Sandy made a family receipt that came from Portugal by the Roman Legions and on to Brazil and the British colonies in 1756.
I looked through all my cookery books, and found that most sausage with casings use the same meat, pork or pork and beef combinations. They also call for similar seasonings or state that you can use this or that. I decided to make the 17th Century Portuguese Pork Sausage. I read through the receipt one more time, and as many early cooks did, I altered it a bit to suit my taste. I bought a pork butt just a little over four pounds; it had a lot of sinew and very little fat so I picked up some salt pork fat. Who doesn’t love pork fat in things? I also picked up a few fresh lemons.
The pork butt needed to be trimmed of the sinew, and both my husband and I worked cutting it all out. We chopped the pork and the salt pork fat into little pieces.
From my freezer, in the basement, I took a bag of hog casings and pulled out three. More than I’ll need however, should I tear one I’ll have a spare. This freezer has many weird things in it, and anyone looking for something should beware of what they might defrost.
As you can see on the plate, my four-pound pork butt ended up being about 2 ¾ pounds, a lot of waste. Now it was time to make sure I had all my spices and herbs ready. The sage and thyme I needed was growing in my herb garden, so when the rain let up, I quickly picked it and washed it off. I used the mortar and pestle to crush peppercorns and fennel seed to a powder, chopped my sage, thyme and garlic and graded the lemon peels. I had cayenne pepper, salt and cardamom seed that I would also add.
The pork and fat was chopped and mixed in the bowl then I added the spices and herbs. We used a ratio of two to one pork to fat. This I mixed first with a wooden spoon then my hand, to make sure that everything was distributed evenly.
Each of the casings needed to be rinsed out several times. The best way to put the casing onto the sausage press is to fill them with water and push them on until you get to the end, while letting the water drain out. Works best over the sink.
With everything mixed, and the casings on the press, it was time to make sausages.
Allan pushed the meat into the casings, and it started coming out. I helped by gently pulling on the sausage until the casing was full. We used one entire casing and just a small amount of one other. We ended up with a nice plate full, and I would guess that the sausage will feed about four or five people.
I saved out the small single sausage and took the larger piece and froze it for when we have guests. With a nice fire made in the fireplace, I cooked the small sausage to have with a glass of fine wine before the fire, just to take the dampness out of us while we waited for the chicken and potato dish to warm. The sausage was wonderful, with just a hint of the lemon peel. I don’t think anyone could buy better sausage; it is well worth making your own.
For our dinner, we reheating leftover baked chicken and potatoes in the bake kettle and cooked our stand-by green beans with some carrots. We turned the bake kettle several times to warm the chicken, and when it was ready we plated it.
I hope you will try and make sausages; it is easy, and you can use your own seasoning, so it will be just as you like it.