Sometimes I take for granted how much I love talking about food.
Not everyone has the same views on food and sustenance as I do, I know this.
Yes, some of our friends will smile politely and try to continue on with conversation with me, but sometimes they’ll get lost along the way as I drag out some strange tidbit of information that I gleaned years ago and it just managed to get stuck in the back of my head just waiting for the right moment to pop out. I am, of course, being romantic.
Today, though, some of my obsessions got to see the light of day. Last weekend, when Miss R kindly came over to drop off a Ukrainian Christmas Feast for The Hubbs and I to partake in while I was sick, I lent her books. Lots of books. All of which had something to do with charcuterie in some form or other.
If you look at my bookshelf, you would see that I have a collection of books which involve doing all sorts of wonderful things to meat so that you can store them for long periods of time to be enjoyed at a later date: sausages, patés, rillettes, confits, curing, brining, smoking, salting… Not to mention books which have only to do with those “odd”, “strange”, and “neglected” bits that seems like a good number of people find incredibly unpalatable, but I have loved since childhood. I do love me some paté, lemme tell you. Thanks to J & Miss R, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to taste homemade rillettes, headcheese and a few other choice tidbits for the first time in my life, for which I am exceedingly proud of their accomplishments at having taken the time to learn these new skills.
Last month, J got the opportunity over the Christmas holidays to learn how to butcher game and make homemade sausages during a totally hands-on weekend class offered up by SAIT, which then got his creative juices flowing. Fast forward to this past week and J & Miss R have been reading, absorbing information and prepping modest quantities of locally raised and butchered meats that have been residing in their deep freezes (yes, plural) to make use of all that good stuff, specifically homemade sausages: smoked bison with pork and bratwursts.
I am thoroughly amazed.
It has been a secret desire of mine (okay, maybe not so secret) to make my own sausages and cure my own meats as well as make things like patés and rillettes, etc. I don’t even know how it came about, but all I know is that the idea of me one day attempting to dry curing sausages and meats excited me tremendously. There’s only one problem: I don’t have the energy, stamina or resources to attempt such projects. [Enter J & Miss R, stage left.] Turns out that they happen to have all of the above, and more, for intensive projects such as this plus an adorable little baby girl which I can keep amused with while they’re getting on with the hard, tiring prep work.
Once the sausage mixtures had been ground down to the coarseness desired and mixed up to the proper consistencies as the recipes indicated, we sampled little patties of each before turning them into properly encased sausages. The bison & pork sausages, which are going to be smoked tomorrow, were wonderfully seasoned with allspice, nutmeg, onion and garlic. So very tasty, but a little bit on the salty side for my tastes, which I am assuming will actually temper slightly once they’ve had their time tomorrow in the smoker. I look forward to hearing what the smoked bison sausages will taste like when we see them again on Sunday afternoon for D&D.
As for the bratwursts… I have to admit, I have never been a huge fan of brats. I’ll eat them, but I won’t go out of my way to make them. But today? DAMN they are tasty when they’re homemade! Seriously, the difference between them is night and day in terms of how amazing they taste. Even a store bought brat, made from a ‘high end butcher’ has absolutely no comparison to these.
I am, still, so incredibly amazed and I don’t think I can adequately express what a fantastic experience this afternoon was. We made homemade sausages and they tasted pretty darned awesome. I say “we”, but really, it’s totally J & Miss R‘s hard work that needs to be applauded.
Helping stuff & shape sausages
I really didn’t do all that much other than keep Lil’E=MC^2 occupied for the majority of the afternoon, and then when she went off to have afternoon tea with her mama, I took over the job of helping to stuff the sausages. Though, it has to be said, oh did the conversation deteriorate fast and it’s not often I get complimented on the skillful man-handling & stuffing of a friend’s meat into something very much resembling monster condoms. Trying to get those natural casings onto the rather large sausage stuffer was no easy feat, believe me. There was a fair learning curve involved trying to slide those casings on!
There’s so much more I would love to be able to talk about this afternoon, but I am, unfortunately, very tired.
I am feeling accomplished, pleased and far more educated in the art of sausage-making now that I’ve had the pleasure of an afternoon with J & Miss R. They will more than likely be doing sausages again in the future now that we’ve had our first run at it together and even with the small batch of sausages that were made this afternoon, there are some valuable lessons learned which will be kept in mind for future sausage-making sessions. Seemingly little things like: leaving that extra space at the end of a sausage before tying off so that when you make smaller sausages by twisting them, you don’t put excess pressure on the casings so much that they burst. Stuff like that.
Awesome. Day. Was. Awesome. ^_^