Is that a sausage in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

Posted by Conor O'Neill on Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Last Saturday, the world was my oyster. Wife n kids were in Cavan, house to myself, I could do anything I liked. Except I’m off booze so getting blotto was out of the question, I’m on a diet so a huge steak n chips was off the menu and I hate sport so a day of Premiership football would be torture. But I was still totally buzzed about making sausages after the Hugh Fearnley-Wearnley-Guernley Course in Ballymaloe. So that’s what I did.

I had ordered the natural casings from the UK and Cecil sent them over quickly. Boy did they stink! Catherine texted me to tell me that Darina’s article in the Examiner was about the course and gave recipes for sausages. Saving The Bacon. Damn, all of the belly pork might be bought up, so on my bike (literally) and I raced into town.

First into Martin Carey’s. They were under pressure and fobbed me off with pre-diced pork and a claim that they were indeed out of pork belly. Got some nice Italian sausages for comparison tho. So, across to Dan Moloney. Not only did they have belly pork but there was a big slab of it on the counter. So maybe I wasn’t so nuts thinking Darina’s article had caused a bit of interest. I got all my bits and wheezed back out to Old Chapel.

A bit of sage, oregano and thyme from the front garden was cut, white pepper located and then onto the prep. There isn’t much to sausages really. A pretty equal mix of lean and fatty pork, up to 20% rusk or breadcrumbs to help texture and reduce leakage, some herbs and spices and not much else.



The sausage casings just need to be soaked in water for a while. I went with hog casings as I was making a big breakfast banger rather than chipolata’s. Why is that word only used in the UK? It means nothing over here really.


Yet again, apologies for the rubbish photo quality - Catherine had the Ixus so I had to use the Nokia Crap-Cam again.


I had been looking forward to using the mincer attachment and sausage making attachment on the Kenwood Chef since we got it last year.


So I assembled the bits, mixed my sausage mixture and turned it on. I started pushing the mix into the mincer and a few moment later, the minced pork started coming out of the drilled holes. Hurrah, success. And then it stopped. I then spent nearly an hour trying to mince 1 kg of pork. A total disaster. The Kenwood jammed on every tiny piece of fat that it encountered.


I tried big holes, little holes, fast speed, slow speed and I re-chopped all the meat into smaller pieces. Eventually I got it all through but at that stage it had the consistency of meat paste.


I am totally pissed off at Kenwood. What is the point of a feature on a machine if it is not capable of handling the normal standard situation? Grrr.

But undaunted, I moved onto the sausage making phase. The kit for this was easily set up and I clearly remembered everything Ray had said on the course.


And ye know what? It bloody worked. Not perfect, not neat, not consistent but a sausage all the same.


And the next bit worked too - even better than the first. I was worried I was underfilling but as it turned out I was slightly overfilling.


The one bit I wasn’t going to try this time was the method for making all the linked sausages. I understood it on the day of the course but I didn’t have enough length to give it a proper go. So I just squeezed it at various points and twisted to make each sausage.


And for the first time in this blog, I get a chance to use Vinnie McCabe’s famous phrase. Vinnie was Dean of Engineering in UCD. He did “Introduction to Engineering” in first year. In one class he was describing the first bridge he ever designed. He summarised it as “functional but not aesthetically pleasing”. Till the day I die, I won’t forget that perfect phrase. And today it describes my sausages.

Sausages should ideally be left to hang for about 24 hours to let the flavours merge and to let some of the ooze settle. I hung them in the shower for about 8 hours but the stink of the casing was brutal so I wrapped them in grease-proof and put them in the fridge. On Sunday morning I fried them up.




Thirty minutes of gentle cooking later and they were ready. A tomato, some ketchup and some chilli sauce joined them on the plate.


I was a bit tentative with the first bite. But, to my amazement, they were pretty damned fine. Texture was too dense and smooth as expected after the mincing nightmare (more like pate really) but very tasty. I will definitely add more pepper and herbs the next time as I was overly cautious this time. But all in all a huge success. I’ll be doing it again, if I can figure out the Kenwood problems.


And today’s challenge is - how many double entendres can you find above? Your time starts now…..

[tags]Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Darina Allen, Ballymaloe, sausages, Kenwood, casings, cooking, Bandon[/tags]

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