Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Southern Comfort: Spicy Country Sausage

One of my favorite food books is the long out-of-print, Better Than Store-Bought, by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie. More than a cookbook, it's a collection of recipes for specialty foods that are not only better than store bought, but for many of us living in México, unobtainable in any store. Thus, it's the first source to which I turn when I need a recipe for special jams, mustards, English Muffins, and in this instance, sausages.

I have adapted their excellent recipe for Spicy Country Sausage (page 6) to local conditions and our tastes. I've also increased the quantity to a kilogram of meat. If you are going to the effort to do this, you might as well make enough to freeze some. You may do so as well, as you wish.

First of all, speak with your butcher and ask for un kilo de carne de cerdo molida, con grasa. The fat is necessary to make juicy and savory sausage. About 20% fat is about a good starting point. Get the pork ground freshly to your order, as you watch. If your butcher won't do that, get another butcher.

If you have a meatgrinder, you may buy the meat in chunks, cut into pieces that will fit your grinder. Apply the seasoning and leave in the fridge overnight, well-covered. Next day, grind and mix. (It's always best to be very conservative when seasoning. You can always add more later.)

Now, the recipe. Make this as soon as possible upon arriving at your kitchen. In other words, don't stash the ground pork in the fridge for 3 days, then start making the sausage.

I'm highlighting Mexican substitutions in red.
Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl.

In a spice grinder or a molcajete, grind the following:
• 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (more to taste later) Sal fina del Mar.
• 2 teaspoons leaf sage, crumbled. Salvia
• I usually add some crumbled thyme. Tomillo.
• 1/3 teaspoon whole black pepper. Pimienta Negra.
1 to 3 small hot dried chiles, or chile flakes. Chile Piquín or similar.
Grind these spices to a medium grain, and sprinkle over the ground pork.

(I always add about 2 teaspoons of granuated sugar to a kilo of pork, to give it that good ol' Tennessee Pride kind of taste.)

Mix well with cleanwashed hands until the seasonings are thoroughly blended.
Now, you must sample this to check for seasoning. Please, don't eat this raw. It not only could be very bad for your health, it won't taste right, either.

Make a very small patty and slowly fry it in a small skillet. When it's fully cooked, taste it. It may need more salt or other seasoning. If so, go back to the mixing bowl and add more seasoning in very small amounts, then cook another tiny patty.
Note that the flavor will change once the sausage meat is refrigerated over night. I think it becomes milder.

Now, for Don Cueva's Secret Tip: The mixture may seem dryish, in spite of its fat content. To remedy that, I often add apple juice, just enough to loosen up the sausage a bit. The apple juice also tends to smooth out some of the more picante highlights and wed all into a state of blissful harmony.

We pack the sausage meat into small Zip-Loc bags, about 5-6 ounces each, close well, and freeze them. If you plan on cooking some within a day, keep it in the fridge. You can, of course, form breakfast-sized patties, and freeze them with plastic film or waxed paper between.

My next recipe will tell how to make the ethereal Angel Biscuits. They need to be mixed one to two days before baking. This is very convenient  as most of the work is already done before the day of baking.

Stay Tuned.

(I was just browsing Google for this recipe, and, BEHOLD! an uncredited copy on CD Kitchen. I'm not too surprised, as this sort of rampant copying is rife on the Web. If you decide to use their servings quantity widget, beware that increasing the spice proportionately to the meat may result in an inedibly overspiced sausage meat.)


Bob Mrotek said...

Don Cuevas,

Please don't forget to throw in the English muffin recipe as a bonus :)

GlorV1 said...

That sounds like making chorizo. My dad made the best chorizo. I've made it before but of course it never comes out like his. This sounds really good. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Have a great day.

Leslie Harris said...

Ay, Don Cuevas! Thank you so very much. One of the foods that I really miss is sausage. I've seen Jimmy Dean Sausage trucks in Tepatitlan and Guadalajara, but have never been able to find the sausage in the grocery stores. I am making a batch this week. I will let you know how it turns out. Thanks again! :D

Don Cuevas said...

Bob; sorry, for English Muffins, you'll have to buy the book. They are just too involved a process to write about here.

Don Cuevas