Sausage with a heart
I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a number of reasons, even though I’ve had the idea for it for some time. The first reason I’ve been dragging is that using the dangerous ingredient I was considering made me feel a bit like this:
(If you’re too lazy to click on vids as I often am, watching the first two seconds will remind you of the scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There are many reasons that movie has always stuck with me, not least of which is the millipede crawling up the back of the blonde’s hair. Or the monkey brains. That was def the best of the Indiana Jones’, breaking the curse of the bad sequel, am I right?)
Yes, eating the heart of something feels a bit Hannibal Lechter-ish, even though that’s a shame, because otherwise meat processors are just throwing millions of hearts into the compost which is kind of more disrespectful to the animals than making use of all their bits. Plus, eating heart is healthy — it contains all essential amino acids, is very high in elastin and collagen (good for the skin), and is a rich source of coenzyme Q10, which boosts energy levels, is vital for the immune system, prevents blood clots, lowers blood pressure, and prevents heart disease. Ironic, huh? Eat someone else’s heart to save your own? But all of this doesn’t make one any less squeamish to handle a big heart and hack it open…
What was going on inside the ventricle in that last shot? Haunted ventricles, nearly in time for Hallowe’en.
Anyway. The other reason I’ve been procrastinating this post is that my good friend gave me some Kitchenaid sausage gear for my birthday this summer. A good problem to have, right? Kitchen gear that you don’t know how to use? But I was a bit intimidated by making my own sausages. It seemed complicated. I shouldn’t have been worried! After spending a few short hours, the snorker world is my oyster (my father-in-law calls them that — he says the British troops used to eat a lot of snorkers and mash). I could literally make oyster sausages if I felt like it (although…).
Back to the heart sausages. I read that heart is lean, and that sausages need to be relatively fatty — experienced banger-ers suggested that adding odd bits was okay, but to make sure they were balanced with a strong dose of fattier meat, like pork. I went with 1/4 heart to 3/4 pork butt. As per my usual routine, I served it up to my husband and kids and they gobbled their snorkers without even knowing about my secret ingredient. You know you wish you were related to me. Here’s how I made them:
Heart Sausages (makes about 8 short chubby sausages)
I love my Kitchenaid mixer, so my instructions will revolve around it, but I’m sure creative sausage makers can modify! Sausages can be done as formed rounds of course, fried like hamburgers, if you don’t have access to casings and a stuffer.
Throughout this process, it is very important for everything to be clean. Did you watch that W5 episode about ground meat and e-coli? I did. We don’t want any of that. Disinfect all equipment in the dishwasher, wash your hands often, clean all work surfaces carefully, and make sure your finished product is well-cooked. Mm-kay?
- 3 cups ground pork butt, cubed, chilled (even near-frozen) then ground. Chill again.
- 1 cup chilled beef heart, ground
- 3/4C chopped fresh parsley
- 2Tbsp coarse salt
- 2 tsp dried sage
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Sausage casings. I have no clue how many to tell you to get — my butcher gave me a lump, they cost $6.00, I made 5 batches of sausages, and I still had some left to throw out afterward. I went for the “natural” ones which are actual pig intestines and they were easy to work with. You might go for the synthetic ones because the thought of intestines grosses you out, but when you taste the natural ones, you’ll know that if you eat sausages, you eat them all the time without knowing it.
1. Soak your natural sausage casings in water for at least 45 minutes (get them going while you grind your meat). Grind your chilled pork and heart using the coarse grinding bit. I was quite concerned about fat content — I prefer a drier sausage for health and taste reasons, but all advice said to make sure enough fat was left in, so I didn’t trim much off. The sausages weren’t greasy, which makes me wonder just how much garbage makes it into store-bought sausages! Costco hotdogs now terrify me. Mine turned out fine, but next time I might trim most of the visible fat off. When you select the parts of heart to grind, just go for the smooth meaty bits, and not the harder sinewy sections.
2. Add your spices, and mix the ground meats together with your handy Kitchenaid paddle attachment.
3. Grab yourself a frying pan, take out a spoonful of your sausage mix, and fry yourself up a mouthful. The last thing you want is a huge freezer full of sausages that have been spiced wrong. Or, in this case, sausages that taste a bit too “heart-y.” After your sample, adjust spices in whatever way might be necessary. Shove back into the fridge to keep everything well chilled. Sausage-making is a cold business.
4. Set up your sausage stuffer if you have one. Flush the insides of your casings with water a few times — apparently if you don’t, there can be grit inside (ew!). Load up your sausage cone with the casing by scootching it all on there, wrinkled-like so that it fits. Pull about two or three inches of casing off the end so that it will stay empty at the end of your sausage link. Leave it open so that the air can escape.
5. Load the top with your sausage mix and turn the machine on to 2 or 4 or 6. I got comfortable with working at 4. Guide the casing onto a big plate or clean counter as it fills, fondling your sausage (it is quite phallic, not gonna lie) so that it fills evenly but not too tightly — you need room to be able to twist off your snorkers to the right size later on.
6. Twist your sausages into links of desired size. On my first go I didn’t pinch enough space between the links, just twisting, so when I cut them they didn’t close off properly. Pinch to a half-inch, and then twist about 5 or 6 times. Cut in the middle.
7. We have sausages! Fry ’em up and snuggle your snorkers. Use with your favourite recipes.
Quite proud of myself today, I am (so much so that I find myself talking like wise old Yoda). I couldn’t even taste the heart, which was a bit disappointing. I might increase the pumper percentage if I should try hearty sausages again. After the heart batch, I went on to make many other more conventional sausages with dribs and drabs from my cupboard, all in the same day: sundried tomato, apple and fennel, garlic and bacon, chorizo… This website was helpful in figuring out spices, although I always get into trouble when people are talking weights — know that 2C of ground meat works out to be about a pound.
Amazing that there are so many flavour possibilities with reasonably priced, accessible ingredients. If you are a creative cook, you need to get into doing sausages. Preservative-free! Control over fat and salt! What more do you want? Thanks so much for your generous gift, Hong! I completely love it. Sausage rating: 5 Yums