Yesterday, Saturday, I worked my nuts off, making a batch of sausage meat with meat sourced online, from Steadman’s of Sedbergh, instead of my usual Sainsbury’s pork. The same cuts, boned pork shoulder and sliced pork belly, and broadly the same price – but vastly superior.
I’ve complained before, here, about the wetness of Sainsbury’s meat, but the squishiness of it does make it very easy to run through the mincer. Steadman’s meat, in contrast, once some superficial bloodiness had been washed off, was excellent – firm muscle, without a trace of wetness. In fact, cutting it up I started by slicing it into steaks, and they were so beautifully marbled with fat it seemed a shame to make sausage meat with them, but that’s what they were for. Next time, though, it’s destined for steaks.
The first job, though, is checking the bone socket for fragments. In my experience, when meat is boned commercially, there are always some, and this was no exception. Then the shoulder has to be skinned, while retaining as much fat as possible, and for that you need an extremely sharp chefs’ knife – do not piddle about with a small paring knife if you want to finish with the same number of fingers as you started with.
After that, it’s just a matter of slicing and dicing, removing as much sinew and connective tissue as you can, the mincer will catch the rest – when I’ve finished mincing pork there is always a large amount of sinew spooled on the worm shaft, just behind the knife. I have no idea by what mechanism this happens, but it always does.
Note: boned shoulder comes in two parts, which are easily separated. One is thin and only fit for dicing and stewing or sausage meat (tip: don’t freeze for future use in sausages, if the sausages will also be frozen), the other is thick and will slice into maybe half a dozen thick steaks with – Sainsbury’s please note – the grain sliced neatly across – you don’t cut steak with the grain, numpties.
So, there I was, with this perfect meat fighting back as I was cranking the mincer handle – it was remarkably hard work, partly because I’m getting weaker, but mainly, I’m quite sure, because the meat is just so much better than Sainsbury’s, from well-muscled free-range pigs, with no added water.
The belly strips needed to be skinned – no great hardship – and was thick bands of meat separated by thin bands of fat, and like the shoulder, firm and muscular – I must try to get some of this in the piece, and make my own bacon (Sainsbury’s is thick bands of fat separated by thin bands of meat – sorry to keep banging on about this but the contrast between this meat and the crap I’ve been saddled with until now is staggering).
In terms of weight I started with 0.516kg of belly and 1.126kg of shoulder, for a total of 1.642kg. I wound up with 1.343kg of prepped pork, a loss of just 299g, mostly skin. So while starting with less meat than when I used Sainsbury’s, I actually finished with about the same amount of prepped meat. Go figure. Actually, a lot of the loss with Sainsbury’s was a great deal of wet and fibrous fatty tissue, which I really didn’t want in my sausages. There was very little in Steadman’s pork – the difference between free-range and intensively reared, I guess.
Anyway, since I had such good meat, I decided to mince it coarsely, as it seemed sacrilege to reduce it to mush as the fine plate would have done, and for the first time, I had to add water to the mix – just a wine-glass full** (not the buckets that go into commercial sausages and even some domestic recipes) – to bind the breadcrumbs and moisten the meat a little, before adding white pepper, fine sea salt and a little sage (a little sage goes a long way).
**It might need a little more on Sunday – time will tell, but see below.
If you soak the mincer and all its parts in warm, soapy water immediately you’ve finished, it’ll be much easier to scrub clean, with a bottle-brush for the interior, and a washing-up bush for the rest. By far the easiest way, I’ve found. Rinse well to remove any detergent residue and leave to drain. My mincer is stainless steel, so pretty fuss-free, but if you have an iron one, sit it on a radiator to dry thoroughly.
Today,** then, I’ll be making the sausages – making the sausage meat took most of the day, with lots of rest breaks – making the sausages is the easy bit.
**Much to my surprise, despite the pain yesterday after the mincing, my shoulders haven’t seized up. Result!
The first task is to fry a blob of the meat, to test for seasoning (traditional pork sausages are peppery, but not excessively so), or see if it otherwise needs tweaking (the mix could so with a bit more fat – I have some home-rendered pork lard, but no easy way to add it to that it’s evenly distributed, so best not to). This is the recipe as of right now (note that seasonings and other dry flavourings are added before mincing, the mincing process distributing it through the finished meat:-
Pork Sausage Recipe
1.343kg prepared pork, as above.
3 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons sage
10% crumbs (from my own bread, using the last of the Swedish Spring Wheat flour**)
Small wine glass of cold water, plus a little more if required***
**A mystery there – there should be two bags of crumbs in the fridge – there was only one, 141g, so it all went in, an extra 6 grams or so being neither here nor there, as some is always lost to the mincer. There’s about half a kilo of the stuff missing, though.
***Had a quick look at the meat, and it will benefit from rather more moisture, which it’ll get in the form of Aspall Organic Suffolk Cyder, which is extremely good stuff. I’ll add that now (11.10), and give it a few hours to be absorbed.
Oh, and all that pork skin that could have been roasted to golden crispness, yielding a little lard in the process? I had a brainstorm and threw it away!
Pics will follow in due course.