Adventures in Andouille

I am finally back! I took some time off for a big catering project and then my best friend Beth was here for a whole week, so I took some vacation time from the J.O.B. and we had a blast. What did we do for vacation? What do any two foodies do? Ate at great restaurants, drank too much, played in the kitchen, ate at more great restaurants, and talked and talked.

An older Oster electric sausage grinder/stuffer came with the new house but I hadn’t broken it out yet. Beth has done much more charcuterie than I have.  I have made several kinds of fresh sausage in the past few years- but only on industrial equipment under the watchful eye of my favorite butcher.  While she was here I wanted to make sausage so she could teach me what she’s learned doing it at home. So we went to Ward’s and bought a beautiful 5 pound pork butt and some fresh pig’s tails for extra fat. (Never again. Fresh pig’s tails look disturbingly like fat human fingers when you’re cutting them up.) We went and bought a food scale, too.

Then it was time to decide on a recipe. We had been considering Spanish-style chorizo, but my family doesn’t eat much chorizo and I already had some Mexican-style chorizo in the freezer. I went immediately to Hunter. Angler. Gardener. Cook for inspiration. I want to try everything on his website after making 50 pounds of this for a catering project. What would my family like? Andouille! Even better, I had almost all the ingredients. Beth put all the pieces to the grinder together, cut up, ground the pork, and put it into the freezer to chill while I gathered, ground, measured, and weighed the rest of the ingredients. Then I dug in with bare (clean!) hands and mixed the seasonings into the cold ground pork, pausing frequently to warm my hands under the faucet.

Stuffing the casings started the next afternoon. Beth showed me how to untangle and rinse the fresh casings. We puzzled out switching the hardware on the grinder. Double-grinding the meat might make the texture weird, but we weren’t sure. Then we realized… the medium stuffing tube was missing from the box. The one piece that is absolutely required for what we wanted to do was missing.

We tried using the small tube, meant for breakfast sausage. No. Then we tried the large tube, meant for summer sausage, wider than natural casing. That was hysterically bad. Gathering the fresh casing (which, in case you didn’t know, is a pig’s intestinal lining) onto the tip of a too-large tube was just too reminiscent of… well, I’m sure you can picture it from there. It is just impossible to stuff sausage without making penis jokes, and drinking the beer left over from the sausage recipe just made it worse. Or better. (Waste not, want not! Right?) . I would pay a great deal of money to have a video recording of the whole process, even though I would never be able to show it to my children, but alas we don’t even have photos. Stuffing sausage takes 4 hands. (See what I mean?)

So after several hours of bawdy jokes, pig fat, and vibrating machinery, we announced surrender with 3 beautiful links of andouille (bound for the smoker and then a very special jambalaya) and several pounds of loose andouille sausage. I weighed out the loose andouille and froze it in 1-pound packages, I think it’ll make excellent sausage gravy.

The only changes I made to the recipe:

No milk powder.
1/2 bottle of Abita Amber beer.
No Instacure/pink salt. We’ll be hot-smoking and eating this immediately, I’m not worried about long-term storing.
No onion. My husband is sensitive to onions, so we substituted chopped Chinese garlic chives.
No cloves. I don’t love the flavor of cloves, so I used 1/2 tsp total of allspice.

I cooked up a pound of this and threw in some thinly sliced kale, eggs, and cheese, and shoved it under the broiler. It was ridiculous.

What kind of sausage should I make next?

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