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A sausage grand tour May 15, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Beef, Charcutepalooza, Pork, Veal.

As you have seen on this blog or on twitter, I’ve been on a holiday. It was not quite a grand tour but we did make it all the way around the world. Culinary highlights included eating at the Fat Duck in the UK, the Breslin in New York, and the hawker stands in Singapore – more detailed reports will come soon. We returned last Wednesday, and I knew I only had until today to complete the May Charcutepalooza challenge of making sausages! Luckily I’ve made sausages before so was confident I could make some sausages in a relatively short time, even if I was jetlagged.

This month’s challenge was to make chorizo or merguez sausage. I decided to make merguez as I’d not had it before and liked the sound of a fairly spicy sausage. Taking inspiration from my recent holiday, I decided to make a sausage grand tour of sorts, representing some of the places we’d visited.

I got to work dicing all the meat I needed.

I then realised I’d have great difficulty in remembering which mixture was in which bowl, so when I weighed out the remaining ingredients for each sausage, I labelled the bowls…

There’s no photos of the grinding or stuffing process as I found again that two hands were needed – even four at some times! This was the first time I’d used the Kitchen Aid sausage stuffer attachment – although I’d ground meat through it before, I’d previously stuffed my sausages using a hand grinder. While the Kitchen Aid was certainly quicker, I did find I was stopping more frequently to deal with air pockets and ensure the mixture was getting fed through evenly. More practice is required! I should add that I only had one type of casing in the house, and some of the sausages definitely would have been better in larger cases – but this is what happens when you make sausages the day after coming home! Anyway, when I was done, I had four types of sausages.

So, we have: Merguez (the red one on the top), Cambridge (brown-ish one towards the front), Bratwurst (pink to the left) and kangaroo (deep red in the centre) sausages! Each sausage required a different preparation to complete it.

The bratwurst was inspired by our time in Germany, where we ate blood sausage, sauerkraut, and drank beer and cocktails. I decided to make that classic German snack of currywurst, which is a pork sausage covered in a tomato-curry sauce. I used this recipe to make the currywurst sauce, but I added Worcestershire sauce, and didn’t use as much sugar as listed in the recipe.

I boiled it until it was thick, and then strained out the vegetables. Meanwhile, I’d gently cooked the bratwurst, so I added the sauce and a sprinkling of curry sauce.

Unfortunately I didn’t have any little cardboard containers to serve it in, so had to be content with a plate. I was really happy with the way the sauce came out – it was deep and tomato-ey as well as having a nice curry flavour. The bratwurst itself was juicy and really big in flavour and worked with the sauce really well.

Next was the merguez. This is apparently often served with couscous, so I cooked some cinnamon, garlic, dates, lemon juice, roast capsicum (left over from going in the sausage) and cayenne pepper with a bit of water, and when it was all blended I added the couscous. I served the merguez with the couscous and some more of the roasted capsicum.

I thought this sausage was really clever. It was spicy, certainly, but was more interesting than just being a ‘spicy’ sausage. The couscous was also fairly spicy, set off by the sweetness of the dates and the capsicum.

I turned next to Britain, where we spend a fabulous if slightly manic time – including a visit to St John with my fellow Charcutepalooza participants Nic Cooks and Saffron and Salt (if it gives a sense of the manic-ness of our time in the UK – we got straight off the plane, checked in at our hotel, and then raced over to St John…) – Nic has already done a great writeup of our meal here.

When I looked at English sausage dishes, nothing seemed so quintessentially English as Toad in the Hole. According to some sources, the most common sausage to use for Toad in the Hole is the Oxford sausage, popularised by Mrs Beeton. Now, I didn’t visit Oxford on this trip, but I did spend the day in Cambridge, and Mrs Beeton listed a Cambridge sausage which was a variation on the Oxford. The main difference was that it contained beef, pork, veal and bacon, but retained the other basic flavourings (sage, lemon and other herbs) of the Oxford sausage.

Once I’d made the sausages, I made a batter for Toad in the Hole from eggs, flour, milk, water and salt and pepper. I heated up a tin with some oil in the oven, and when it was hot, I poured in the batter and added the sausages. It took about 30 minutes to cook, and I dived into it almost as soon as it was out of the oven!

This was real comfort food. The pastry gave a nice envelope for the sausage, which was really solid and meaty! The lemon and sage helped lift the heaviness of the meat and overall I really liked this dish.

Finally, I had to do something Australian! I went with kangaroo meat, and used the venison sausage recipe in Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie as a starting point for this sausage. As kangaroo is so lean, I added some pork and also a fair amount of fat to compensate, as well as additional spices. I decided to cold smoke this sausage, so grabbed some gum leaves to add to my smoking mixture to make it more Australian…or something…

I cold smoked the sausages for about 15 minutes and then grilled them.

I was surprised how much the kangaroo flavour came through in this sausage! It was really gamey, but had a nice amount of juiciness thanks to the fat. The smokey flavour definitely came through and had added a touch of sweetness to the sausage – although I’m not sure the leaves added much flavour!

By the way, you might notice the uniting element in all these dishes – beer. I can categorically state that after much experimentation, beer goes with all types of sausages! At least all of these sausages…

While making these sausages wasn’t quite the same as travelling to all these countries, it was great to try out some new and different types of sausages and accompanying sauces. As I settle back into Real Life, I can at least console myself with the excess sausages I have in my freezer!

Veal stew June 16, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Veal.
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With winter well and truly descending here in Melbourne, my thoughts have turned to more wintery meals – particularly stews and soups. However, while winter stews are by their nature heavy and filling, this does not mean that every stew should provide the feeling that one is weighted down after eating it. Looking for something a bit lighter, but still filling and comforting, I came across this recipe for veal stew on Serious Eats.

I find veal to be lighter – and some might add richer – than lamb or beef, and it provides a nice contrast to the more traditional stews. To start with, I browned the pieces of veal in some olive oil.

When they were all browned, I removed them from the pot and added chopped garlic and shallots. When they’d cooked for a bit, I added chopped mushrooms – I just used normal button mushrooms which I then chopped up as that’s what I had available, although the recipe calls for various types of wild mushrooms to be used. I cooked the mushrooms until they too had started to soften and brown, and added salt and pepper.

After they were on the way to cooking, I deglazed the pot with some sherry, and added the meat back into the pot. At this point, I also added lamb stock (no beef stock) and thyme – I used a combination of fresh thyme sprigs and some dried thyme as I didn’t have as much fresh as the recipe called for. After it boiled, I turned the heat down and let it cook on a low temperature for a couple of hours. Here’s what it looked like about halfway through the cooking process:

Towards the end of the 2 hour period, I prepared the prosciutto. I put some baking paper on a baking tray, and lay the prosciutto slices on it – trying to smooth them out as much as possible and ensuring they weren’t folded over themselves. They went into the oven for about 10 minutes and were well and truly crisp by then, and had released a lot of fat. I put them on some paper towel to drain and patted as much fat off as I could. As you can see, they had changed dramatically in appearance.

By this time, the stew was almost ready. I made a beurre manie by mixing together flour and butter, and putting it into the stew. The recipe said to let it bubble away until the stew had noticeably thickened, and while I let it bubble for a while and it got a bit thicker it didn’t thicken dramatically. In retrospect, I think I didn’t use enough flour in the beurre manie (although I used the amount specified in the recipe) to properly thicken it.

Once the stew was thicker, I took it off the heat and added some cream, which I then stirred in. To serve, I spooned the stew into some bowls, and scattered broken pieces of the prosciutto on top.

As I’ve said, I think I should have thickened the stew a bit more, but I really enjoyed this stew the way it was. The slightly thinner consistency provided a lightness to the stew which was complemented by the use of veal. After 2 hours of cooking, the veal was soft and tender and melded nicely with the mushrooms – which had retained a bit of firmness, a nice contrast to the veal. The prosciutto shards on top added a crisp and saltiness. The overall flavour was earthy and deep – but not heavy. All in all, this stew was nice way to forget about winter – if only for a little while!