To go with the goose I gutted earlier I wanted to have some homemade sausages. Whilst out shopping with SHMBO a few weeks ago we popped into a local farm butchers shop to order some meat for Christmas and I espied some venison and cranberry sausages; I thought, well I could make them meself, so added a pound to her order for deer. On returning home, I popped onto the interweb and bought some proper hog casings and rusk, ready for when I needed them. On returning to the shop the other day to pick up our goodies, I also bought some ‘pork trim’ ie the fatty bits they don’t sell but pop in a big bin at the back of the shop ready to put in their own sausages.
Sorting out a recipe and quantities was quite tricky as the interweb seems to be divided between the huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ fraternity who don’t tend to add anything to their sausages, and the gourmands who put so many extra things in that there seems little room for actual meat. I settled on a middle path but had to make most of it up as I went along.
First I sorted out all the ingredients. Zest of half an orange, 25g cranberries, 450g diced venison, 75g rusk, 2 tsp herbs [thyme and sage from the garden], 112.5g pork fat, 70ml port/orange juice [half & half], 4ft hog casing. I also used 1 tsp crushed garlic [also from the garden], 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper.
Next, I sliced the cranberries and put them into the port and orange juice mix to marinade along with the finely chopped herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. It is vital that everything is kept very cold in sausage making so that the fats are easier to handle, just like making pastry, so after each stage everything goes back into the fridge.
Then, I set up the mincer, which had also been chillin’ in the fridge, and minced the venison and pork fat together on the coarse setting. I ran this through twice, clearing out all the connective tissue that jams against the mincing plate in between. It was very noticeable second time through that the mix was much more thorough and even in colour. Eventually I was left with a large bowl of well minced and mixed meat and fat, which went back into the fridge to cool down, and a small dish of connective tissue, which of course went in a bag in the freezer to use for stock at a later date. It is worth pointing out to those that ask why one would bother to make sausages when you can just pop to Tescos, that the stuff on the right stays in commercial bangers. Indeed, cheap ones are only made with the rubbish. Adventurous readers should Google “Pink Slime”; do not do this whilst eating!
Next, the marinaded cranberries, port, orange juice and herb mixture is added to the mince, along with the rusk. This is worked together thoroughly, which is best done by hand, before the whole lot is put back into the fridge to cool down once more.
While that is cooling the hog casing, which has been soaking in water for a couple of hours, can be fitted to the moistened nozzle ready for filling; the process from here on in is as rude as you might suspect! The casing needs to be slid on until there are a few inches left but should not be tied off yet as air comes through first.
With mince in the machine, turn the handle until air comes through followed by the first load of meat. You can then tie off to prevent it leaking out. From then on it is simply a case of mince in one end, sausage out the other. As the casing is wet, it slips off pretty easily and self-feeds but you do need to keep coiling it out of the way.
If you have not filled the casing too full it is then relatively easy to make the links. Using one palm as the length guide, with the other hand simply pinch the meat out of the way. Do this along the length of your casing. Then either twist each sausage, or link, in opposite directions, or just turn every other one the same way; I started the first few using the first method then pinched all the way along and used the second method. Finally squeeze the air out of the top end and tie off, cutting off any excess casing.
The sausages should be allowed to rest in the fridge overnight when they will plump up as the rusk absorbs liquid before either being cooked or frozen. Mine went into the freezer ready for Boxing Day!