Making your own sausages

As part of Farmhouse Breakfast Week, confirmed carnivore Eleanor Gaskarth takes her love of meat to the logical next step – making her own sausages.

If you’re not in the mood to play animal lucky dip each time you consume a meat product, you seem to have two choices. Either buy from a trusted, reputable, preferably local producer who takes pride in the quality of their goods (and knowing exactly what’s in them)… or make them yourself.

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I was lucky enough to be invited to a sausage making masterclass this week at the Beach Hut, Watergate Bay. Our host was Gavin Roberts, owner of the Kernow Sausage Company, a man on a mission to promote good meat, good breakfasts and the superb variety of both available in his home county of Cornwall.

As he deftly removes the meat from an enormous pork shoulder joint, Gavin admits that not everybody is going to be able to make sausages at home. “It is ambitious,” he says, “but with just a little bit of equipment and the right attitude you’ll be amazed what you can produce. I absolutely love coming up with new flavours and ideas and trying them out.”

Our group splits into teams and each is given a few pounds of prime pork to play with. Sausages require lashings of seasoning and we’re encouraged to go wild. My team chucks in plenty of salt, white pepper, sage and marjoram. Then some paprika, because one of the other teams added it and theirs smells good. Next some rusk – about 15% if possible – and water, before mixing very thoroughly by hand until you have a meaty dough-like texture.

Having watched The Apprentice episode where the hopeless bunch played butcher for a day, I knew what was coming next and, mindful of the photographer recording every suggestive moment, made sure not to volunteer for the filling stage. The sausage casing, pig gut in this instance, is fitted to the nozzle of Bertha, Gavin’s trusty knee-operated machine. When pressure is applied, the sausage meat spurts out, producing a very impressive looking string. Innuendo is, naturally, rife.

Next we tie the strings into individual sausages that can be easily snipped before going into the frying pan. Gavin makes this look as easy as knotting a shoelace, but I am woefully inept and have to go back several times before producing the chain-like structure we’re aiming for. Still, in a very short space of time we have produced some cracking looking bangers, that taste delicious when I cook them the day after in a spicy stew with sweet potato mash.

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For a more detailed account of what we learned, plenty of embarrassing photographs and more information about the Kernow Sausage Company, check out today’s (January 26) Western Morning News.

For any keen kitchen fans of charcuterie, here’s a recipe from Gavin.

This will produce a classic “bangers & mash” type sausage or an exceptional sausage meat for stuffing.

You will need:

4Lb’s (1.86Kg) Good quality pork mince. (Pork shoulder is ideal & ask your butcher for a meat to fat ratio of 80/20%)
1Lb (454g) Chilled water
1/2Lb (227g) Of butchers rusk (ask local butcher or use breadcrumb instead)
6g Dried thyme
6g Ground black pepper
5g Table salt
5g Dried sage
2g of garlic powder or one very finely crushed clove of fresh garlic.
1 Length of sausage casing (available online or local butchers. Usually come salted so will need to have been soaked in water over night)
1 large mixing bowl
1 sausage stuffer ( it is possible to stuff skins using a piping bag though a little tricky)
Take the herbs, seasoning & garlic & mix them all together (this will help with even distribution of flavor)
Spread the mince evenly in the mixing bowl & sprinkle the seasoning onto the meat,folding the mince as you go.(even distribution of the seasoning is what you are after)
Add in the 2/3rds of the water & mix by hand until the water has been absorbed into the mixture.
Add the rusk (or breadcrumb) & the remainder of the water.
Mix thoroughly by hand until the rusk is evenly distributed & a sticky texture is achieved.
Take the pre soaked length of sausage casing & fill the mixture into the casing.
Either hand link traditionally or simply roll out & twist individual sausages.
Place in a fridge below 5 degrees. (No less than 12hrs)

Golden rules:
Your sausages need at least 12 hours to develop proper flavour & texture.
When making sausages we are essentially creating little marinaded parcels of meat so they eat best at around three days.
Never prick your sausages. This will just allow all those lovely flavorsome cooking juices & seasoning to escape. Your hard work & dedication in filling will have gone to waste.
Never rush cooking sausages, patience is a virtue & too much heat will burst your sausages.
Always let your sausages cool a little. A well made sausage is like a steak it needs to rest. The cooking juices will start to set & the wait will more than pay off with flavor.

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