Philosophy of Sausage Making

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

I’m so far behind in my TwoDudes emails that I don’t even know where to begin.  Luckily for you, I made sausage the other weekend, so this seems like as good a place as any to pick up the ball.

I don’t know if you’ve ever made sausage, but I hadn’t, and I assumed it was going to be ridiculously difficult.  I had always thought a fun and easy way to do it would be to buy some ground meat, mix in some spices, and make “sausage” patties.  Well, when an old cast-metal, hand-crank meat grinder showed up at our neighborhood yard sale, I knew that plan was shit.  It was time to go all in.

None of us really knew what spices make “sausage.”  We knew that sage makes good breakfast sausage and that you can’t make Italian sausage without fennel, but that’s where our recipe knowledge stopped.  We each did a small amount of research online, but in the end, we decided to just avoid a recipe and just make it up as we went.  This approach, along with morning beers, led to a very distinct lack of note taking.

The spices consisted of a small amount of dry spices along with a handful of fresh herbs from my garden.  Here’s how we collected our meat:  I went suburban and bought a 3-1/2 pound bone-in pork shoulder at the grocery store.  (I looked for the best/most marbling I could see.)  Brandon had a trip coming up to see his family in the country, during which he bagged a rabbit with a .22 rifle.  John went to Lay’s meat market in the backstreets of Knoxville (aren’t the best meat stores always in a crappy building in the PJs?) and bought a 5 pound bag of “pork fat.”

We started out with around 10 pounds of flesh, bone and skin, but after we cleaned the rabbit, carved the bone out of the shoulder, and pulled the skin off the pork fat, we were down to about 7 or 8 pounds.  (In case you’re wondering, yes, we cooked the skin in a cast iron pan to render the remaining fat and make cracklins.)  As we were cleaning our respective meats, we chopped them into small pieces — around 1/2 to 1 inch cubed.  Into this, we mixed our haphazard assortments of herbs and seasonings.

The final mix went something like this. 

  • Meat and fat mix
  • Two tall stalks of rosemary
  • Two tall sprigs of oregano
  • Six sage leaves
  • A handful of thyme sprigs
  • Whole bundle of garlic, roasted
  • Powdered coriander (Maybe 2 tbs?)
  • A good coating of Kosher salt
  • Plenty of red pepper flakes
  • Lots of cayenne pepper
  • Black and white pepper
  • 6-8 ounces of Muprhy’s Irish Stout

We chopped the fresh herbs, sprinkled the dry herbs, poured in the beer, and mixed it all into the cubed meat.  Then we put the mix into the fridge while we drank more beer.  You want the fat to be cold, so that it chops easier.

Once everything was chilled, we ran it through the meat grinder on the coarsest setting.  We proceeded to case half the mix in hog intestines, but we were so unprepared for that process, and it was such a disaster that I don’t feel qualified to give any tips.  Well, maybe one tip — buy a sausage stuffer!  Faced with the prospect of stuffing more intestines, we decided to leave the other half as a loose mix which we split evenly between us.

We sampled the sausage in patty form just after grinding, and again as links at the end of the day.  Both times were fantastic, but we noticed that the heat of the peppers drastically declined the longer the sausage sat.  The most surprising thing was how sausage-like the flavor was!  It was incredible!  I’ve got about 8 ounces of loose mix in my freezer now that I’m going to use for spicy cheese dip for the CochFord Chicken Fry.

I realize that I was kinda weak on the details here, so what I’m about to give you is a brief Philosophy of Sausage Making — a term that I actually Googled beforehand, but sadly discovered does not exist.  If you ever find yourself with a meat grinder and a day to spend elbow deep in pork fat and beer, just follow these instructions.

  • Pour yourself a beer, because you’re on your way to Awesometown.
  • Whatever animal/animals you choose, make sure you have a good fat-to-meat ratio — good being at least 30% fat.
  • Remove everything Kosher before you start — because it’s about to look like a pig exploded in your kitchen.
  • Make sure the mix is chilled before grinding.
  • Add a little liquid to help the texture through the grinder.  Beer is a good option.
  • Make a small patty to sample your recipe after grinding.  Then you can make minor adjustments.
  • It doesn’t matter what spices you use, just as long as you use a ton of them.  Sausage is supposed to be flavorful, dammit!
  • If you want spicy sausage, use a lot of peppers.

There you go, dude.  Daniel’s Philosophy of Sausage Making.

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Link

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Hey man,

You probably don’t do steaks a whole bunch, but I came across this link a couple years ago and it has changed everything about how I prep steaks. Worth the read.

Jamey

P.S. Click the title.

How to Really Grill Steaks

Agave Lemon Beer Butt Chicken – with BACON

Every year, if we’re all together, my (Jamey) family has a beer butt chicken cook-off around Christmas or New Years. This is what I did in 2010, and it was awesome. Daniel asked what I did…and here’s my response.

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Okay, here it is.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 beer butt stand (you can get these at Walmart or online)
  • 1/2 beer in a can (you can use a soda can & fill it up with homebrew or whatever)
  • Lemon pepper seasoning (the one I used was fancy, and included a lot of goodies like garlic powder and salt and such – in other words, just find one that sounds awesome)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Agave nectar (you can get this in the honey section)
  • 1 pack of bacon (12 oz or 16 oz, you choose)
  • 2 lemons
  • Toothpicks

Thaw the chicken, separate the skin from the front and the back of the chicken carefully. There may be sections that will be difficult to separate, so I just took a knife and made little slits in the skin, and put my finger in their to separate it a bit.

Squeeze bits of the butter in between the skin and the meat all over the chicken. I didn’t quite use the whole stick, but pretty close.

At this point, it may be a good time to put the chicken on the stand for decoration purposes, but don’t put the beer in yet. Sprinkle the outside with the lemon pepper, and load your hand up with lemon pepper and work it into the meat, between the meat and skin.

Cut one of the lemons and squeeze the juice all over the bird, and even inside if you wish.

Use the agave nectar and squeeze it between the meat and skin, and then do a few circles on the outside of the bird (it will slowly run down your chicken.

Now wrap that shit in bacon, and use toothpicks where necessary to keep the bacon in place. Glaze the bacon with the agave. Now let it sit for awhile for the flavors to soak in.

Pull the stand out, put the beer can in the stand, then stick it back in. I threw a few bits of red onion inside the can, as well as some lemon peel, but I have no way of knowing if this did anything. Sounded good to me, though. Oh and I put a bit of soy sauce in the beer too, but that was an impulse. Also, I used a Bavarian-style hefeweizen in keeping with the lemon fruitiness theme. But I bet even Coors would make a mean bird.

Slice into the other lemon a bit so that the meat of it is exposed and shove it into the top of the bird where the neck used to be. This will keep the beer goodness locked inside the bird, and will hopefully allow lemon juice to drip into your bird, making it moist and delicious.

Grill or bake upright (thanks to the stand). We grilled for about an hour. It pretty much requires your attention the whole time (keeping the grill shut as much as possible), but especially because of the butter and bacon – you will have flare ups.

Use a meat thermometer and pull off when it’s 170-180 in the thigh. Remove it from the stand (this is tricky and may require several tools and people), remove the lemon, get the toothpicks out of it, carve, and enjoy.

This kicks ass. I’d like to figure out how to make it a little more lemony if possible. Oh, and drink a few beers when you cook it. I almost forgot that.

Laterz,
Jamey

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

Oh shit.  I think I just peed a little bit reading that.  You know its a quality recipe when it has the three-B’s of awesomeness – bacon, butter and beer.  I’ve never heard of a beer-butt can cooker, but that looks genius.  I will definitely have to try this.  Thanks!

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

They are awesome.

Here’s a standard type: http://amzn.com/B000XE63M2

And here is a fancy one, looks like no BPA. http://amzn.com/B0007ZGUK2

Tuna Steaks, Nate Larkin Style

Daniel Larkin to jamey

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared my father’s tuna steak recipe with you. If I haven’t, I officially apologize for leaving you in the dark this long. It’s super easy and super healthy. (On the salty side of healthy, really.)

I guess the place to start is the bread. My father buys prepared naan at a grocery store and tosses it on the grill with olive oil and chopped garlic. Jenny and I have been on a big fresh pizza kick lately, and we freeze extra dough, so I’ve been doing my own grilled bread from that. I hit it with some aerosol olive oil and chopped garlic during the grilling. Not everyone has extra dough on hand, or the patience to make it, and in all honesty, the naan is just as good.

The only other “cooking” for the meal is the tuna. Buy a premium tuna steak – as bright and fresh as you can find. Anything frozen should be fairly fresh, since most fishing vessels these days butcher and freeze onsite. Coat both sides of the steak with Montreal Steak Seasoning – I mean coat it with a nice caky layer, since you will lose some during cooking. Pan fry the tuna in safflower oil on high heat to the desired doneness (I prefer medium rare) and let it rest on a glass plate for five minutes before slicing with the grain.

Beyond this, all you’ll need is hummus (any kind you like), tomatoes, avocado, Kalamata olives and fresh basil. Slice the bread into triangles and layer that shit up – hummus on bread, then sliced tomato and avocado, tuna, basil and an olive on top. It’s messy finger food, but it’s incredibly worth it.

I’ve eaten this several times, and the best compliment I’ve found to drink with it is Duvel Triple Hop. Not a cheap beer, but the soft flora hops set off the basil and salty fish like nothing else. Heavenly.