And here it is finally – my own first sausage. I was thinking about it for a while (10+ years?), the turning point was the discovery of the AMNS smoker. This gadget allowed me to do cold smoking in the portable smoker. Otherwise I would need to build a dedicated smoker with separate fire box, a project that was coming slow due to lack of time.
I’ve practised my cold smoking skills mostly on bacon, cheese and fish, got my gear sorted and I felt like I’m finally ready for the big step forward – my own sausage.
Anyway, I have been around when sausages were done (I was usually assigned job of turning stuffer handle and refill the stuffer). I was around a smokehouse a lot (my favourite task), but I never did my own sausage from scratch.
My choice was the Hungarian style csabai sausage that is my old favourite and when travelling in Europe I’m just stuffing myself silly with these. At home some shops sell sausage branded as csabai, but they are far cry from the ones made in Hungary. Nowhere near. So off I go and try to replicate the real stuff.
List of ingredient is very simple – for 10kg of meat: 200g salt, 250g of paprika (sweet and hot), 25g ground caraway seeds, and 25 garlic powder. Probably I don’t have to say, that this predominantly paprika spiced mix will live or die by the quality of paprika used. I’ve stopped using locally bought paprika as inferior in taste and color – the best bet is to get real thing made in Hungary, preferably from Szeged area. I buy the authentic (I bloody hope so!) stuff on eBay, $8 for 250g, not cheap, but it is fantastic taste and color wise. Once you taste goulash made with this stuff as compared to supermarket cr@p, you’ll never regret money spent.
As for mix – traditionally it is 200g/50g sweet/hot paprika as it is supposed to be a spicy sausage. I knew that this sausage will be eaten by kids and some of the hot paprika can be really potent – so one needs to be careful - I went with conservative 225g/25g ratio (recalculated for 7kg of meat, of course).
The recipe calls for 70/30 mix of lean meat and back fat. My local butcher had problems supplying back fat and the bellies weren’t fat enough so I’ve settled for total of 7kg (~15lb) of pork shoulder that looked rather fatty, very close to 70/30. Here I had to deviate from the plan, which was to salt, spice, cure and rest lean meat and fat was to be frozen and ground separately before mixing/stuffing. I’ll touch on that more at the end of the post.
So I’ve chilled the meat, not frozen, just make it firm for cutting and cut it to roughly 1.5”-2" chunks (they could be bigger, just make sure it will feed thru mouth of your grinder later on).
Here is the pic of meat after cutting:
Next, I mixed all ingredients. The metric spoons are there to spoon things out of bags, everything is weighted on the scales. Salt used is pink Himalayan stuff. Notice, I could not resist adding 2 or 3 grams of ground black pepper – not enough to make any taste difference, next time I’ll leave it out (as I should in the first place). Cure#1 was added in standard quantity - 25g per 10kg of meat.
Carraway seed was ground with my old, hand cranked coffee grinder.
Next is a step that is not all that common sausage making practice, but I was told THAT is the way to make Csabai. The meat cubes are covered and rubbed with prepared ALL of salt/cure/spice mix. Some sources say that meat should only be salted and cured and only then spices added into ground meat. I reckon that having spices present during 72 hour rest should improve taste and really release all the goodness from paprika and garlic…The next take on it is to let sit stuffed sausage for 3 days. Well, I did go traditional way and all I can say it worked out very fine.
Meat mix it is loaded into suitable vessel, pressed firmly to let air out and covered with cling foil.
And in the fridge it goes for 72 hours to work its sausage magic. Fridge settings cranked to coldest settings just to be sure all is nice & cool:
And here we take a deserved rest and continue in the next post.