Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sausage and stuff

We've had our KitchenAid mixer for a couple years, but we've never let it exercise its full potential. There are so many attachments you can add on for seemingly endless functions, including a variety of pasta rollers, grain mill, ice cream maker and more. Devin recently decided to purchase the meat grinder and sausage stuffer parts, and away we went!
I really can live without sausage. Any kind. I'm not a fan of summer sausage. Blood and tongue - barf. Italian sausage? Pretty much only if it's on pizza with lots of onions and green pepper goodies to drown out the taste. I'm not sure if it's the texture, the fact that I've lived on a farm and witnessed slaughter or because I'm just picky about my meat. Probably the latter. I'm just different.

Anyway, Devin likes sausage, and although I was excited to share this stuffing experience with him (he was beaming like a kid on Christmas as he opened the attachment box and put everything together), I was nervous about the end product.

We had a ton of spices already in the pantry, but we made a list of a couple extra ingredients we needed from the store, along with the necessary pork shoulder, to experiment with a few different batches.

Devin sliced up the pork shoulder into more manageable pieces and stuck them in the freezer for a bit (apparently makes it go through the grinder more easily). In the meantime, we assembled our flavor enhancers and began to work on spice combinations to try.

The pork. Just chillin'.
So was the beer. It's all about the essentials.
The station is prepared. Fire up the KitchenAid!
We'll have our own sausages in no time!
Devin started grinding the meat while I cheered him on. And continuously cringed and complained about how much fat he left on the meat. His response: Sausage has fat. Fat is flavor. My response: Yeah, but it looks like there's more than enough. Really there is. (And spices add flavor. So there.)

Like I mentioned, I'm a bit picky about meat. If there's some marbling throughout my steak, I will cut around it. Fat hanging out on the edge of my cut? It will be trimmed and banished to the edge of the plate, even if I have to sacrifice a juicy morsel of meat in the process. I prefer white meat to dark because, well, the dark meat is "dirty" and usually takes more time to pick through so I can positively eliminate all the gristle and goopy stuff. Yes, this is how I operate, and, yes, there is goopy stuff! Don't deny it.

Pretty proud of his new toy
My family has always had a fit while watching me eat, but I think Devin has accepted it as one of my "charms." And it's a win for him because he always gets extra steak/chicken/pork from my scraps.

Back to the meat grinding station. Many of the pieces were a little too big to fit, so I had the honor of trimming them. And when I say trimming, I mean eliminating chunks of fat. It was my own version of natural selection. Very sorry, piece of pig, your meat-to-fat ratio does not meet the standards. You cannot contribute to the sausage stuffing experience. Thank you for coming. It had to be done. Devin tried to convince me it was unnecessary, but I did it anyway.

Putz: "Whatcha doing, guys? I can't see. What's that I smell? Beggin'?"
We eventually got through the first round of grinding up all the meat. It took some time, and it didn't look too pretty.

See? Eww.
Round two

Somehow, this looks way better. A stretch, I know.
The process was much smoother the second time. Now, the fun part. Devin divided all the fat meat into five even portions so we could come up with several ingredient combinations. We had countless options with spices, cheeses and finely diced vegetables like onion, jalepenos, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.

The pig awaits its flavor boost!

Flavor boosters! BOOM!
Oh, wait. Pause the fun. I forgot a very important step. What exactly are we going to stuff this pig-ness into? It's own intestines? Oh, ok. Carry on.
Update: I hate sausage more.

Devin rinsing the casings
We were able to purchase casings from the meat department at HyVee. The guys who work there were so helpful with answering questions. We later had to go back for several more feet of casing after only making it through two batches of sausage. Now we have extra just waiting for the next stuffing adventure.

A couple examples of our recipes - Looking better!

With the casing in place, it was time to start stuffing!

Not a bad result. We separated the different recipes as best we could and put them in the freezer to enjoy for quick meals in the coming weeks. But you know we had to try some that night with the leftover chopped veggies.
Add a little orzo...
Doesn't that look amazing?
I love my chef!
Who's coming for dinner?
Update: I like this sausage. And, no, I didn't pick it to pieces.

I think it has to do with preparation and the fact that Devin made it. That's usually all it takes. Our first sausage-stuffing experiment was a success, and all the recipes have been pretty good so far. I'm kind of excited to try it again, only make more so we can have them readily available when family and friends visit.

Here's to new adventures in the kitchen and pig parts that yield good eats. *Cheers*

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