“Laws are like sausages, it’s better not to see them being made.”
So said Otto von Bismarck in his apt description of sausage and law making. Both are messy processes, though I’ve only taken part in the latter.
But say you go bird hunting and wind up with more geese and pheasant than you know what to do with. Such was the case with the Jensen family. Having a freezer full of birds, they solved the problem by buying a meat grinder with a sausage maker attachment. My grandson got an invitation to the Jensen’s First Annual Christmas Eve Sausage Making, because his girl friend’s family was hosting the event.
The family’s first sausage making began in their unheated garage, because you need a cool environment. After deboning the birds, they mixed the meat with pork fat at a ratio of 3 parts bird to one part fat. They divided the mixture into 4 batches for 4 different recipes with each batch getting its own unique spices and liquid. Wet ingredients included either Masala wine, malty beer, or whiskey.[
The mixture went through the grinder again, this time on the fine grind. In the final step, the meat was extruded into all-natural, hog intestine casings and the long, sausage train tied off into individual links.
While sausage may never make it to the base of the nutrition pyramid, homemade versions are far healthier than your typical packaged breakfast meats with ingredients like sodium lactate, sodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, sodium diacetate along with dextrose and maltodextrin.
“Which batch did you like best,” I asked Summer Jensen.
“The herb-pheasant,” she said. “The garlic, fennel seed, oregano, lemon zest, and Masala wine gave the sausage a super fresh and citrusy taste.”
Lessons learned, according to Summer: Use more and different cheeses and a lot more jalapenos. Experiment with the additives: different spice mixtures and liquid ingredients. Vacuum seal the sausages in packets after they’re frozen. Before stuffing the casings, check the filling’s flavor and consistency by frying a small patty. Use the imperfect batches for pasta sauce or chili.
A Sausage Flashback
One of my fond memories of childhood was visiting relatives in Culpepper, Virginia, during World War II. In DC, where we lived, government rationing resulted in shortages of meat, butter, and sugar. But those living on farms fared better.
My favorite at the farm table was home-canned, whole-hog sausage. My relatives butchered their own hogs and ground all the meat. The mixture was formed into meatballs and stored in glass canning jars, enough to get them through the next Thirty Years’ War.
But today, in deference to my arteries, I limit my pork intake, especially sausage and bacon. I’ve replaced breakfast meats with yogurt and fruit. But if one of those herb-pheasant sausages were to land on my plate some morning, I might have to reconsider.
Using Sausage in Recipes
I use sausage on holidays, when I make my Cornbread Dressing recipe. I also tuck a little in Lentil Soup for the great flavor. And this recipe with orecchiette and broccoli is quick to prepare and a surefire hit at the dinner table.
Final Thought: Hmm. . . I’m still thinking about those yummy whole-hog sausage meatballs I ate in the 40s? I wonder if I took a slab of pork by the Jensen’s garage . . . .