About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meat Grinding and Sausage Making 2011 - part 3

What ever should I do today?  Oh!  I know!  Make more sausage!  It's day four of working on my grinding & sausage making projects for this week.
Today the plan is to make the hotdogs (final emulsifying, and stuffing into casings) and prepare both the hotdogs and Andouille sausages for smoking tomorrow. I also want to get all the  other finished sausages and ground meats packaged and in the freezer.
The hotdog meat mix has already been ground twice and all the various seasonings and other ingredients incorporated.  The mix is well-chilled so the next step is emulsification. I'll be doing this in my heavy-duty 14-cup food processor and the procedure is simple: process the meat mix, adding a little ice water as it mixes until it reaches the proper consistency. The ice water keeps the meat mix from heating up too much with all the friction created during the processing, adds moisture to bring the mix to the right thickness and soften the mix so that the food processor can physically do the work. 
So, I put a few large scoops of meat mix in the food bowl fitted with the large steel knife, seal it up and begin to process the meat.  The bowl is only about half full and despite being a powerful machine, and being fairly new it begins to bog within a few seconds.  I add some ice water in a steady stream through the feed tube which helps but the machine is still working hard.  I switch to "Dough" mode which helps.  I keep processing, adding water regularly and stopping to scrape down the bowl a couple of times until the mixture looks smooth and uniform.  You'll notice I didn't say "looks good" or "looks pretty".  Honestly, it's pretty gross looking at this point.  Total processing time: about 3 minutes.

I continue processing the meat in batches, transferring the finished emulsification to a bowl to await the next step.  I processed 5 batches (and had two more to go) before deciding to start stuffing the filling into casings and give the food processor a rest.
After taking a little while to sort, soak, and wash the sheep's casings, I filled the hopper of my hand-cranked sausage stuffer, threaded the first casing onto the smallest nozzle and began pumping out hotdogs.  I prefer "foot-long" dogs so I twisted them off at 8 to 9" intervals.  I repeated this until I'd used up all the filling, emulsified the rest and then filled casings with that mix too.

The hotdogs will be smoked tomorrow so I cut and tie-off the links into strings of 4 to 6 pieces and hang them to dry at room temperature overnight. While I was at it, I also hung out the Andouille sausages which are also destined for the smoker in the morning.  The hanging dries the casings slightly letting the smoke "smudge" stick and penetrate more easily.
I'm too impatient to wait for a smoked dog so I cooked off a couple, just pan-frying them from raw, for lunch.  They weren't bad but the smoking will definitely add another dimension.  Can't wait for lunch tomorrow!
We also got all the previously processed ground meats and sausages packed, labeled, and frozen . A good day's work all around.

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