birch and grasses alone on the snow, grey sky indistinguishable. the flat world falls into the edge of time, lifeless, dull wedge of horizon and soundless ...
20 October 2009
I had already cut and seasoned a big hunk of pork shoulder butt; it was my kids’ muscle power that I needed now. Pulling all the sausage-making equipment out of the freezer, we set up on the counter and began grinding. Grinding was tough at times and they switched off regularly, watching the new-cut pork extrude out of the die holes. Once ground, we put everything back into the freezer while we cleaned up the area.
I took the hog casings from the bowl where they were soaking and ran water through them, causing the kids to laugh aloud as they inflated. If you haven’t seen hog casings before, they look pretty ugly in the bag. After all, they’re the lining of hog intestines, a light but very strong membrane. Packed in salt, they’re shriveled and kind of smelly. After soaking in water they become pliable and slippery, and when you run water through them you can see where condom makers found their raw materials in the pre-latex days.
Once the now-enlarged casings are put onto the end of the sausage stuffer, the real sausage making can commence. Making sausage is as easy as cranking the stuffer and getting a rhythm so the meat is extruded and the casing is extended at a consistent rate. We had a few wobbly moments when we pulled on the casing faster than the meat was filling it, causing irregular-looking sausages. Another time the casing didn’t move as quickly as the meat, resulting in a few blimp-type sausages. But all-in-all, the twenty or so sausages were not very different from the ones you find in the store. Except for the taste.
Pork shoulder, salt, pepper, garlic, and white wine: a simple, unadorned sausage. With endless cold, wet weather, we opted for the fry pan to cook them. A dab of butter in a heavy, enameled cast-iron fry pan, and an easy, medium flame. A few minutes to brown the sides, and about ten minutes with a lid, and they were ready to eat. I added a heap of sauerkraut to the pan and quickly braised the fermented dream-cabbage in the browned bits of sausage residue. On the burner to the left, boiled potatoes. Put it all together and that’s a happy meal!