And as a bonus, you can also see how my old-fashioned vs. new-fangled competition went.
That chunk of cow horn is what I've used to stuff sausage casings for more than forty years. We'll call it Davey, okay? And the modern sausage-making tool, a nifty gift from my brother, is our Goliath. This was my first time using it.
Just for kicks, I decided to use Davey to make the first ring of sausage, and Goliath for the other, and compare the times. Yeah, I know. Kinda like comparing a modern text messenger with an old guy sending Morse code, right?
Still, let's see how it went, shall we?
First, to make any sausage, you need ground meat. For kielbasa, I use pork butt, and have the butcher grind it for me, including all its fat. To make good juicy sausage, you MUST have some fat. Pork is so much leaner than it used to be, some people add additional ground fat to their sausage. Not my choice to do that, though. Just try to find meats with some marbling and fat around the edges, and you'll be fine, as long as you don't overcook it.
You need to add enough spices to your sausage to be able to see them. I don't follow a recipe, and judge when it's just right by the smell and look of the meat. The latest batch I made was about three and a half pounds of meat, and I used about half a bottle of marjoram, maybe a tablespoon or so of garlic powder and pepper, and about a teaspoon of salt. (Sorry I can't be more specific. I don't measure.) When the mixture looks and smells good, you can pinch off a small patty's worth and fry it for a quick taste test.
The first ring, made with Davey, is almost finished here. Total time from first bit of meat shoved through the horn to the second end tie-off? Fifteen minutes. Not too shabby, huh?
Unfortunately, I encountered a few (ahem) ESO (Equipment Superior to Operator) problems. Those black screw-on caps at either end of the tube LOOK the same, don't they? I thought so, too. But the threading isn't the same. After I loaded the tube with meat the first time, I couldn't screw the darned thing onto the gun. Once it was switched, reloaded, casing reattached, and then hooked up correctly, squeezing the trigger emptied the tube and shot the meat into the casing lightning fast. Too fast. (Okay, so maybe I was blasting it like Al Capone with a tommy gun...) The Pam I'd stupidly put on the nozzle didn't help, either. The casing flew off the nozzle so fast, the meat packed way too loosely amid a ton of monster air pockets. So, after I used a wooden spoon handle to push the last bits of meat out of the nozzle, I had to manually squeeze the meat through the casing and eliminate all the air pockets. Bottom line: with all my screw-ups, it was well over thirty minutes before I tied the final knot in the second ring of sausage.
So, Davey beat Goliath. This time. Kinda. Next time, the gun will definitely blast my handy dandy horn outta the water. If I hadn't been so darned trigger-happy and charmed by the gun's speed this time, I could've ... I should've... been controlling the packing and air pockets as I went along.
Bottom line? It doesn't matter how ya fill the casing. (My mother-in-law had a sausage attachment on her electric mixer.) This stuff is DEE-licious. Simple to prepare, too. Barely cover it with water, bring to a slow boil, and then simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Drain most of the water, and add sauerkraut. Cook until heated through. Serve with mashed potatoes. And there ya have it... Polish comfort food at its finest. And if you don't want to stuff your meat into casings at all, you could always make some unique-tasting burgers.
I'd show you what it looked like after it was cooked... but we (erp!) ate it.
(Oh yeah, just so ya know, a pair of old-timer Morse code operators DID beat a pair of hot shot text messengers on the Jay Leno show a couple years ago... )
So, what's YOUR favorite comfort food?
My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people. [Orson Welles}
My mom made two dishes: Take it or Leave it. [Stephen Wright]
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.