Italian Sausage Testing

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Dear Readers,
It's been a busy summer, and there's been little blogging. BUT, there's been lots of other stuff. We scoped out Idaho (more on that soon), I've done some traveling for work, and little guy had his first round of swim lesson! And we've been doing plenty of cooking. It's the documenting part that's not happening (sigh).

In other news, the husband will be teaching a class this fall at the Monrovia Community Center (scroll scroll scroll to pg. 31), so he's been perfecting his sausage recipes. Check out his post along with cute pictures of Viggo.

Sausage planning session.

As of late, my sausage making has become an endeavor of refinement rather than been the herculean task it used to be.  Gone are the 12-hour days of manually grinding the meat (I do nostalgically miss you, Porkert) and then cleaning up for another hour or so.  I did cut my teeth with the manual grinder, gaining the fundamentals by taking so much time with each sausage.  But everything changed with the LEM Meat Grinder.  I’m usually not into, you know, “electricity” and stuff with my hobbies, but this ¾ horsepower grinder does it all, and fast.  And clean.  Technology has won me over. This time.

Now that I save literally hours when making sausage, I’ve been afforded the pleasure of honing in on my sausage recipes.  The research and development phase of my sausage making has begun.  With good technique and good meat, the difference in types of sausage is sometimes almost measureless.  For example, instead of once pinch of paprika, it might be two that gets you a sausage that is authentically Hungarian.  This is what I wanted to focus on. 
My Italian sausage has never been what I wanted it to be, which got me researching my sausage tomes, attempting to get the amounts of chili flakes, fennel, and garlic just right.  I purchased 10 pounds of pork shoulder and developed three different recipes that played ever so slightly with the theme of Italian sausage.  And sure enough, when me and the blog lady sat down to try these three samples, they were all the same and all very different.  A clear favorite emerged, though, that has become the basis of my further tinkerings.

The best part of all this sausage testing is that we have a supply on hand to make pasta whenever we need.  The first time, I decided that I would mix in some milk and breadcrumbs into the sausage to make meatballs for a pasta dish.  It worked brilliantly.  The next time, we used it in the Chef John one pan pasta.  Also, delicious.  As Oktoberfest approaches, my next challenge will be to make the best brat recipe.  All pork, perhaps?  A bit of beef added for that Wisconsin style? I’m not sure yet.  Although I’m certain those enjoying the brats will appreciate the study and effort I’ve brought to bear on making them.         
 The new and improved electric grinder (above). Test patties (below).
Using the sausage to make meatballs.
 Little fishy learning to swim at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.