It's been a while since I've done any cooking worth blogging about, but I figure a weekend of spit-roasting ducks and making sausages has to count.
I love making sausages, and I'd recommend it to nearly anyone: the equipment is low-tech and not too expensive and, contrary to my expectations, there's no heavy lifting involved. Somehow it turns quite pedestrian recipes into gold; I think it's the close mingling of the ingredients pressed together by the skin: it makes the flavours marry in a way that hardly ever happens during my regular cooking. Also, the ridiculous amounts of fat and salt involved, of course.
So, we made Spanish chorizos, which were remarkably simple (nothing but pork loin, salted pork belly, garlic and parika) and two kinds of Thai sausages, the latter from recipes by Vatcharin Bhumichitr. I'm not going to pirate Vatch's recipes here, just report that they're good, and if you hold back on the salt a bit, they scale up very well. He's pretty authentically Thai in his approach, but he writes for a Western audience shopping in Western supermarkets. The only problem with his recipes is that they're for tiny quantities: if youre going to clear your kitchen to make sausages, you should do a decent amount - I split the task with a friend (who happens to be a professional chef, and who supplied the sausage stuffer and the meat-grinding attachment for the Kitchen Aid Mixer), and we started with 12lbs of pork loin for the three recipes combined, making sausage to grill and to freeze. All three were exactly as fabulous as home-made sausages should be; wonderful fried, unbelievable on the barbecue. I'll be doing it all again soon.
Natural casings, by the way, are easy to find at many supermarkets (just ask at the meat counter) and not the least bit icky, even though they do look a bit like condoms.
...and on the side, we spit-roasted a duck. The whole deal was a bit spur-of-the-moment; we didn't have time to marinade the bird beforehand, so my friend introduced me to another bit of equipment, which I was deeply skeptical about, but which turned out to be a treasure: a flavor injector. To be honest, this gadget still offends me somehow, but like the tyrant king in The Arabian Nights, it amazed me enough that I'm willing to keep it around for one more day. We liquidized a mixture of garlic, sherry, oregano and orange zest, and the result was fresh, bright, juicy and surprisingly complex. Next time I'll do tarragon, garlic and roasted coriander, my recent favourite seasoning for roasted chicken, and we'll see what happens.
Final bonus of the day: having processed 16lbs of sausage I was feeling virtuous and pleasantly tired enough to eat a good amount of everything we'd made without the slightest twinge of guilt.