A month or so ago, Kars and I organized a SausageCamp (aka ‘Worstkamp’) with the stated goal to make sausage from scratch. “From scratch” meaning starting with animal parts – we haven’t actually butchered any animals ourselves (that’s for next time).

We invited a whole bunch of foodie friends, turned my home into a sausage factory and set out to make sausage, or, to quote one of our favorite Dutch food bloggers from his book, “to exercise domination over animals at the finest level of perfection”, mostly to conquer man’s own deepest fear to “lose himself in his anus the way the pig got stuffed in his own anus”. Still reading? Whatever the case, anything that brings you closer to the source of your food is a good thing.

Of course, being boys, we required an element of competition: we made teams of two, each team thought up and made a sausage, and a triad of lovely girls (thanks Charlotte, Manon, and Suzanne) offered to put our sausages in their mouths and rate them.

The sausage making was messy but tons of fun and made even better by a stockpile of good wine and fancy craft beers.

What’s more, the sausage turned out really good – miles better than anything you’d get in a Dutch store or restaurant. Some, dare I say, more than rivaled those of Brandt & Levie (and they rock). Then again, we did splurge a little on ingredients.

Safe to say SausageCamp is up for a next edition – bigger and badder. More competition, more butchering, more teams, more fun! Stay tuned…

On to the recipes:

Smoked Cheddar Heaven (CONTEST WINNER)

Finely chop and caramelize the onion, drain on paper, cool down. Chop sage leaves coarsely. Crumble cheddar. Roast and cool pine nuts.

Slightly freeze the pork meat. Cut half of the pork fat in irregular small dices (with a knife or by shortly pulsing it in a food processor). Grind the other half of the fat in a meat grinder on a regular plate (beforehand, cool the grinder in a freezer or outside in winter). Then grind the pork shoulder really coarse. Remember to keep everything as cold as you can.

Knead the ground fat and meat with not-too-coarse-salt and pepper. Then stir in the other ingredients including the diced fat.

You’re definitely not supposed to taste raw pork meat, even though, at this point, it would really help ensure it’s exactly to taste so you’re sure to win the contest. Ahem.

Clean the sausage casings. Stuff the sausage meat into the casing and twist into links. Hang to dry for an hour. Pan-fry carefully, pair with a full-bodied red or with some decent beer. Feargal’s Punk IPA did the trick for us.

Variation: Fine Smoked Cheddar Heaven

This variation won over the half of the jury that didn’t have the coarse variant as their top choice. Follow the same recipe, except grind all the meat on the finest plate, and put all the other ingredients in a blender before mixing into the meat. Then hand-knead really well until your hands can’t mix anymore, then mix at least three times that long – make sure to cool in freezer inbetween so the meat doesn’t warm up too much. The structure will be less interesting, but the tastes will be better integrated, and the sausage will be noticably more juicy.

Venison sausage with Porcini and Sage

Marinate the venison in the wine (keep 40 ml apart) and berries for three days. Drain the meat from the marinate and discard the wine & berries. Grind the pepper, mushrooms & sage in a herb grinder to make a fine powder. Chop the fat into chunks of about 1-inch across, then mix the meat, garlic, shallots, herbs and spices together and toss with the meat and fat. Chill everything in the freezer for an hour. Take out some sausage casings and set in a bowl of very warm water. Grind the mixture through a meat grinder using the fine die. Chill everything in the freezer for 30 minutes. Add the red wine and mix. Stuff the sausage into the casings.

Venison-Kimchi Sausage

Two weeks in advance, make kimchi (based on David Chang’s recipe):

Cut the cabbage lengthwise in half, then cut the halves crosswise into 1 inch wide pieces. Toss the cabbage with the salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator. Combine the garlic, ginger, kochukaru, fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a large bowl. If it is very thick, add water ⅓ cup at a time until the brine is just thicker than a creamy salad dressing but no longer a sludge. Stir in the scallions and carrots. Drain the cabbage and add it to the brine. Cover and refrigerate. It will be at its prime in 2 weeks. Don’t wait longer that for use in sausage, since it’ll be too acid and strong. For other uses (notably kimchi soup), you can use it well after that (months even).

For the sausage, use 100 grams of kimchi for every kilogram of sausage. Use a blender to turn the kimchi into a paste. Mix the paste into the sausage meat and leave for a bit so the tastes can integrate. Mix the kimchi in your sausage meat – in our contest, it was combined with the venison sausage from the recipe above.

Farmer’s Chorizo

Put bay leaves in 2 tsp boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes. Discard leaves.

Grind meat at the coarsest setting. Grind half of the fat, dice the other half coarsely.

Mix meat and fat with cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf water, tomato paste, and red wide.

Stuff meat in sausage casings and finish as usual.

Saturday January 5, 2013 / food / front page