So says (depending on your source) Otto Von Bismarck – or John Godfrey Saxe. I’d like to disagree though.
Sausages are one of those guilty pleasures that I think that most people love, but are sometimes a little looked down on. Often considered just a cheap way to get meat, there’s frequently the suggestion that you shouldn’t ask what they contain (hence the quote).
Given the provenance issues some supermarkets have had over the last year, that may be a statement that holds more than a little truth. So, how can you be sure that the sausage you’re eating is good quality, and contains what it says it contains?
My first suggestion would always be to go to a local producer and buy direct, or try your local butcher – any source where the supply chain is nice and short. You’ll invariably find the quality is far better than mass produced brands, they’re more traceable – and perhaps not for much more than you’d pay in a supermarket.
My second suggestion? How about making them yourself?
This is something we’d wanted to try for quite a while, so when we noticed that Ian and Sue from Lane Farm (@lane_farm) (who also run the Suffolk Salami Company) were running a sausage making workshop at the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival, we quickly signed up to have a go. Ian and Sue bought their farm in 1987, initially producing specialist breeding pigs for other farmers, but in 1995 started to produce their own pork products on site. They know their pigs, and show a real passion for their produce, and sharing their experiences and knowledge.
Strangely, we’d just bought some of their bacon, and had been thoroughly enjoying it without ever realising we were about to meet the producers responsible!
The session began at midday with a demo from Ian, who took us through the process of mixing and mincing the sausage filling, before moving on to the main event of actually making the sausages themselves – which, in fact, used their original hand-cranked filling machine (they’ve moved on technology wise in the meantime!).
Having had a demo, it was our turn! Given a good wodge of minced pork, we worked to break up the structure a little, while gradually flattening it out into a layer. Once we’d done this, half the flavouring spices were sprinkled over, and we gave the mince a thorough mix. Flattened again, the rest of the spices were added, and then mixed again. A final flattening, and we were ready to add the “binder” – rusk. Once this was mixed in, the mince had broken down into a thick paste and was getting really sticky.
With everything thoroughly mixed, it was time for a final mince to break everything down a little more. Time for stuffing! Preparing the stuffing machine, we packed the mix in ensuring no air was trapped, then Lucy fitted the sausage casing, and began the slow process of cranking the mixture through.
The results were great! No air bubbles, and a good even size. Now it was down to me to form the sausages themselves. Twists, turns, wrapping, threading sausages through in loops, it was all a bit messy at first but pretty soon I got the hang of it.
We were rather pleased with our haul!
Dinner for the evening was an easy choice, and we tucked into a couple of sausages each with some beans. They were pretty darned good!
Thanks to Ian and Sue for a great session – we’d recommend anyone try their produce.
If you want to get more hands on, definitely give sausage making a go – it’s great fun, and really rewarding.
(I think I just about managed to get through there without any schoolboy innuendo – well, at least in the writing up. Making the sausages? That’s a different matter)