Friday, November 28, 2008

Twas the night before Thanksgiving...

...and all through the rent controlled apartment, not a creature was stirring...

Except for the man of the house making Chicken Bratwurst!

It had been several months since I made homemade sausage. My mom & dad, revisiting a tradition from the New Jersey Chinese style Thanksgiving dinners we had growing up, asked me if I could make sausage to go along with my Dad's Cantonese Roast Turkey.

Being an occasionally filial son, I obliged.

First there was the casing.

Five bucks for 6 feet worth of casing from Whole Foods Market. It comes bunched up skewered around a plastic tie. What you see in the picture is only 4-5 inches long packed. When stretched out it becomes 6 feet long.

Then comes the meat. Don't bother with lean Chicken breasts. Get the chicken thighs with the

skin on, and slightly frozen so that they'll be easier to cut.

Grind the meat down in a cuisinart with the spice mixture. The spice mixture is allspice, white pepper, salt, and caraway seeds. Not a hard recipe.

Then comes the stuffer. Without the extruder and the casing wrapped around it, the thing looks like some kind of industrial blender/fermenter.

With the extruder and the casing wrapped around it...well, you be the judge.

This time I decided to use a wider extruder. In the past I used a medium size extruder on wider casings, which led to a situation where there was not enough meat to completely fill out the casing, leading to all kind of wrinkly looking sausage. The wider extruder has it's own problems though. As I cranked the meat out, the casings kept on wanting to slip off the extruder in one wrinkled heap. It was as if the meat had so much volume and force it wanted to shoot itself straight out of the tube and onto the table.

These pictures don't quite capture how hard it was to keep it all under control.

I had to pause to take the above shot. During the actual cranking phase I had my left knee resting on the base of my stuffer to stabilize it, my left hand cranking it, and my right hand spinning and pulling the casing along.

I asked my wife to take pictures of me cranking it all out, but she abandoned me, claiming she was tired and that my sausage had the look of "angry sausages."

She didn't seem to like the company of angry sausages.

Inevitably, there is always some dregs left behind. Not all of the meat gets from the extruder into the casing. The white stuff to the right is extra sausage casing.

They look a little better after cooking in a microwave.

The texture of the extra casing though was frightening. After nuking it I tried to take a bite of the casing. It was like chewing on a meat flavored inner bicycle tube.

The flavor came out really nice though. I personally thought it was the best batch of chicken sausages I had made in a while. The relatives liked them, but weren't wowed by them.

I guess I still have to learn how to sell my product to the general public.

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