(Cross-posted from Colin’s blog – Reestablishing the Food Connection)
I was thrilled when I saw that a workshop on Charcuterie was being offered by a local group. I signed up immediately and looked forward to creating patés and cured meats. The workshop was then canceled very last-minute. Disappointed though I was, I bided my time and waited. When I got a newsletter from Spring Creek Homesteading––a group dedicated to sustainability, particularly in regards to food––indicating that they would be offering a sausage workshop, I reserved my place instantaneously.
The class met at 9 o’clock in the PSU meat labs. I’d met people in food science who had told me I should check out the meat labs, but I had never gotten around to it before. We met in a classroom and Steve Bookbinder, who was leading the workshop, went over some resources and took us through a quick background on sausage making. We then proceeded upstairs to the room where meat is processed and got out the pork shoulder we would be grinding.
Steve gave a demonstration of removing the bone from a pork shoulder and then set us loose to try it for ourselves. I must say that between Steve’s technique and the boning knife I was given, the task was a pleasure. In the past I’d always sawed away at the meat with a dull kitchen knife like an amateur––resulting in an equally amateur job.
When we’d all removed the bone, he instructed us on how to “get to know” our meat. The idea he explained is to feel up the meat, because pieces of bone and tough bits of connective tissue you don’t want in your sausage will feel hard––much like tough pieces or rubber.
After cutting the meat up and seasoning the meat with PSU’s secret Italian sausage spice recipe, we got to the grinding phase. In comparison to the kitchen aid sausage attachment––which works at a painfully slow pace, if at all––watching the professional equipment in action was like viewing a quantum leap in technology. The machine processed our 50-pound batch of meat in the space of a few minutes.
The stuffing machine was equally impressive. The machine feeds ground meat through the funnel with the simple press of a knee-high pad––making it a dream to operate. Unlike the kitchen aid stuffing attachment––which lends uneven and air pocketed sausages––this machine quickly and evenly fills the casings. In no time at all, we had stuffed all of the meat into casings and had used a nifty little tool to prick the air pockets. We packaged the sausages and divided them up.
In just a little over 4 hours we had covered quite a bit of ground in the world of sausage making and, to boot, we had some very tasty souvenirs to show for it.
|Some beautiful cured sausages that Steve is working on|