Monday, 18 June 2007

TASTE part 2: Fun with sausages

For the next instalment of the Taste adventure, I’ve decided to tell you about the sausage making demos. We helped out with at least 3 demos done by Ray Smith, Hugh F-W’s River Cottage butcher. He did a fascinating session describing how to make the sausage mixture with minced pork, soaked rusk and seasonings – you mix the seasoning and rusk together first to avoid getting pockets of dry seasoning in the meat, and then put it all back through the mincer and into the sausage machine. At this point it was my job to spring forward with a lighter and get a pan all set up on the hob ready for Ray to cook a bit of the mixture to check the seasoning – very important!

He also had all different kinds of entrails to show the audience what kinds of sausages get made in each casing, right up to the ‘nora batty stocking’ ox intestine which was enormous. I have to say that they looked like tape worms and smelled like dead starfish or some other salty dried dead thing picked up on the beach, but the magic was yet to come. You always need to leave the end of the tube hanging over the side of the dish so you don’t loose it, and then the whole thing gets fed onto the nozzle at the bottom of the sausage machine, which is like a big cylindrical container with a press on top and the nozzle at the bottom. Wind the handle, press goes down, sausage meat comes out of nozzle into casing. I’m sure it’s actually very difficult but Ray made it look effortless.

Another thing which is famously tricky (and a popular challenge on the generation game I seem to remember), is linking the sausages into their classic chains. As I was watching him form the chains of sausages on stage it struck me that it’s EXACTLY the same as making a crochet foundation chain. Make a loop, pull the free strand through it to form the next loop, then pull it through that loop and so on and so on. Who’d have thought the crazy worlds of crochet and sausage making had such a common ‘link’ (groan). Incidentally I also have to note the striking similarity between a knitting needle roll and a chef’s roll of knives. I'm sure there's an essay in there on the parallels to be drawn between yarncraft and foodcraft.

Sausages have to rest overnight before they can be cooked to help prevent them splitting. That meant that the crew had an ample supply to cook for breakfast each morning from the previous day’s demos, and they were very much enjoyed. Jane and I took home a mountain of them (see far R in the pic of our haul from the first Taste entry) on the last day. We had a sausage cook-off on Tues night last week and amazingly shifted all of them. There were cocktail sausages, some big ones with sage in, and some Spanish style ones containing garlic chopped with my own fair hand! There was also a good amount of fantastic-smelling smoked paprika in there. Then we had Gu puddings, sticky toffee pudding and some yummy lemon and basil panna cotta (it works, honest!) for dessert, thus making a further dent in our spoils from the last day. I gave a few packs to Jean as well, and she was very pleased with them.

will add some sausagey pictures from home later…

No comments: