Charcutepalooza July: Emulsified sausages

Aaah, Charcutepalooza. You and your July challenge (emulsified sausages). You just about did me in. Literally.  Our relationship started out so promising – I mean, hot on the heels of June’s successful sausage stuffing party, (perhaps too close – just a week in between as I needed to complete this before leaving for Europe) I felt I (with a lot of help from friends) could achieve anything…  And homemade hotdogs – what could be better than that for a going away barbecue with friends?

I started out with some gorgeous (and expensive) organic beef short ribs.  Starting out with the best ingredients, how could anything go wrong?

I cut away every single scrap of meat…

My $18 of beef made just six hotdogs, so no room for error with six guests expected!  The beef is ground once and mixed with some pink salts and other spices, then it rests in the fridge for up to 24 hours.  The oxidization process started to alarm me and Neil was on the receiving end of a couple of “the beef is GREY” texts and phone messages. In fact, underneath, it was gorgeous and pink. When it’s chilled out for 48 hours, you grind it again and stuff. By which time it is more like a paste than chopped meat….

So I was all ready to stuff…  Fortunately, Ethan came over to lend a hand (and take photos…)

And so it begins… here I am looking cross and frustrated with the Kitchen Aid and the casings…

But we managed fairly well with our tiny quantity of meat – even though it was ground twice instead of once and hence, much more gummy (reminiscent of the chicken sausages from last month), the meat was fairly cold and easily stuffed into the casings. Producing some mighty fine looking hotdogs, if I do say so myself!

At this point, I froze them and brought them out when we were ready to eat them.  We smoked them on the barbecue for a while but I have to say the smokey flavour did not really come through much…

But they were probably some of the best hotdogs I have eaten. So beefy and so pure tasting. And a recognizable colour.

And you know, we could have just stopped at the hotdogs and we would have completed the challenge. But no, because Neil and I have made both the Apprentice and the Charcuterie challenge every month so far, we ventured into the world of the weisswurst – a pale sausage made with veal shoulder and flavoured with lemon and parsley. Sounded divine, very summery.

Now, normally, I halve, even quarter recipes (as I had to do with the hotdogs, math for the kitchen was in full swing there!) but for whatever reason I bought MORE than I needed of the veal shoulder and, obviously, my brain was in summer mode when I froze it without weighing it into the correct quantity, meaning that I had much more meat to stuff than I really needed. But no worries, I made a plan to grind the meat and commandeered Neil into helping me with the casings as soon as he got home one night. Let me tell you he was not thrilled to arrive home and spend an hour stuffing sausages.  The veal, being much leaner than the beef (even with fat back mixed in there) was SO GUMMY by the time we got to stuffing it and I had already been working for a couple of hours when we began the stuffing.  My right hand (from pushing the meat through the grinder) was a little sore but I thought nothing of it at the time. Check out the gummy factor below – on the left, the meat ground once, on the right, when it’s ready to stuff.

It was, shall we say, not the most fun ever. And definitely not the cleanest.

See all that gummy yuck in the top of the stuffer? Ewwwww. That, my friends, was also all over me and I had to wash the Kitchen Aid and its various bits and bobs about 6 times to feel that I had them clean enough.  The weisswurst, however, looked wonderful…

And as I gently poached them….

Neil  poured me a large drink.

And then they went in their little ice bath treatment, ready to cook the next day.  And my hand was still sore. I had another drink and didn’t think any more about it…

The following day, we set up all the fixings for homemade hotdogs and weissdogs…

I was quite thrilled to see the weisswurst cooking and realise how “real” they also looked.  Like, you know, proper sausages. Ones that you buy. For $3 each.

These were really, really good. I went a bit overboard with the lemon zest but this made them bright and punchy – something I would not expect from what is essentially an uninteresting looking sausage.

They also taste great on a piece of baguette slathered with mustard, pickles and ketchup….

Two days later, patting myself on the back that I managed to complete the challenge before leaving for the summer, I noticed a slightly more insistent twinge in my “grinding and stuffing” hand. And later, a huge bump. And intense pain. And then I couldn’t actually do anything with that hand. Oh, and I needed to pack and you know, go to Paris later that day. My RMT diagnosed this as clearly just an underused muscle that was being used intensely all of a sudden,  and told me to make sure I iced it and rested it as much as I could.  Making sure to tuck a load of Ziplocs into my luggage, and using them on the plane filled with ice, and putting my hand in a brace to remind myself not to use that hand without some thought, the pain slowly went away. But it took a good week.

So when I think back on this challenge, whilst I will remember the appreciative guests and their praise for both the hotdogs and the weisswurst, I will also remember the absolutely disgustingly gummy mess I was trying to stuff into the casings. And the gummy mess all over me. And all over my kitchen. And how much my hand hurt on the trip to Paris.  As I tweeted to Cathy “I am #soovercasings”.  I do feel a definite sense of accomplishment though and have to thank Mr Neil and Ethan for their help – could not have done this without them. And our neighbour Orest who popped his head in every now and then to make sausage jokes. Oh, and to eat the sausages. Oh yes, and to put up some fence decoration on our new patio. That kinda sorta look like a tribute to the past two sausage challenges…..

So yeah, I am in Paris right now for the next two weeks. Taking pastry and cooking classes and wine tasting workshops. It’s a tough life but someone’s gotta do it. And am nervously awaiting the August Charcutepalooza challenge and crossing my fingers it does not involve sausage casings. Or any special equipment.  Keep up with me this summer through my Summer 2011 Flickr set.

47 thoughts on “Charcutepalooza July: Emulsified sausages”

  1. Awesome post Mardi. Writing up mine brought out the humorist in me, as well. Sorry about your “injury” but your food all looks terrific, as usual. Super jealous of your trip right now, and wishing we could have a phone chat btw. ps I am so with you on the casings. please no more.

  2. Big shout outs to Mr. Neil and his drink delivery service, that’s one fabulous guy! I hope the injured party is healing well and all that time in Paris is doing it well. The beef was so much easier to deal with than my chicken of last month. I still made one heck of a mess, however. I’m going to ditto you and winnie… the casing and I are ready to part ways.

  3. That weisswurst does look so legit! I so feel you on the casings, though…Thanks for the (EST) late night post – keeping us US insomniacs entertained and hungry (I’m so sneaking back to the fridge). Hope you’re having an awesome time in Paris!

  4. I have to say, with the glory of a Rowe Farms just steps away from our home (granted, a few hundred steps – but hey), I’m not sure we’ll be going through this process much on our own in future.

    If Ethan had been there for round two weisswurst, the sight of me – still in tie before I dashed out for another event – wokring with Mardi would have caused much mirth.

    The wine cellar construction is almsot complete, rest of basement will be done in a month: there is now a spot for hanging our leg of ham. We’ll be ready for that!

  5. They look delicious. Great work! Scraping the meat from the bones must have taken a lot of time!
    Your pics are beautiful and I feel hungry now!

  6. I am SO done with the emulsified sausages. I’m still picking out bits of emulsified hot dog meat!

  7. Wow, I’m impressed by your dedication! Completed before a big trip and an injury to prove the effort, you’ll not forget this one 🙂

  8. That does sound so challenging. I am challenge challenged. The scope of things I can do is not very wide. Congratulations to you. What beautiful sausages you make. I hope you have a great time in Europe.

  9. Neil was awesome to come home from work and give you a hand with these (glad that none of the stuffing got on his suit jacket sitting on the back of the chair ready to be donned for his event). Great too that Ethan was able to lend a hand and even so you had to work so hard that you hurt yours 🙁 All of the labour to make these must have made the first bites so very satisfying! Glad your hand is healing. Paris will cure any ills 🙂
    Orest is a fabulous blown glass artist. I absolutely love his piece he did for you and it looks awesome mounted on your fence. It’s a beautiful tribute to this phase of Charcutepalooza and all of you who met this challenge.

  10. Glad you enjoyed the dogs, but what a pain, right? Literally for you. Hope you’re better. Going to Paris in October myself!

  11. I am so happy that we are not stuffing anything for the August challenge. Hot dogs were my best stuffing experience- I’d even make them again, someday. But still.
    Lovely post your photos made me consider making wiesswurst. Briefly. ; – )

  12. Hello everyone.
    Great article Mardi… amazing looking sausages.
    I’m in the casings business, so whenever you’re going to need more casings let me know!
    and please don’t promote #nomorecasings !! 🙂

  13. I had a Kitchen Aid sausage stuffer, but got so frustrated. I ended up sending it back. Looking at your photos makes me wonder if I should try it again?

  14. wow, those are impressive looking! sorry you sustained injury making them, but it does make for a great story. 🙂


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