I haven't homebrewed since 1994, when my daughter was born, but I did start making my own mustard about three years ago, and I started making sausage last year. Part of it was an ornery response to Weight Watchers: "I'll make my OWN sausage, dammit!" But it turned out to be pretty damned good. I just went into my first sausage-making frenzy of the winter season (you generally want to make sausage in the cold weather; the colder the working surface, the better, sanitation-wise).
Friday I made a sausage from chicken (breasts and thighs, the thighs add flavor and a bit of fat), feta, and spinach, very nice. Saturday I went nuts, up at 6:20 to start grinding pork for my own-design "Double Pig Specials" (a standard breakfast link with the addition of a pound of Hatfield double-smoked bacon for that authentic smokey flavor), Hot and Sweet Northern Italian-style (very garlicky, and the hot was interesting once I put in crushed red peppers and ground ancho peppers, but ultimately a failure: here in the Philly area, I can easily buy better Italian sausage, which I will from now on), and two other sausages inspired by a Friday morning visit to the 9th Street "Italian" Market in Philly.
Let me tell you how that happened. After the morning session of Groundhog Day at the Grey Lodge, I went down to the market. Had a fresh slice of tomato pie at Sarcone's (and got a loaf of nice crusty bread), then got a scale for sausage-making at Fante's, then got inspired. I'm in DiBruno Brothers, just schmoozing, when I see Stilton cheese. Hmmmm...I got a recipe...so I got half a pound of Stilton, and added it to my Beefy Pub Bangers recipe, along with two big tablespoons of Kelchner's horseradish. The Pub Bangers recipe is beef (odd already), with bread crumbs, and with the Stilton and horseradish, this became the lambic of sausages: stanky, distinctive, and oddly attractive: a real lonely outlier of a sausage that some people just loved.
The other sausage came around completely by accident. I was walking by a store in the market when I saw lamb patties in the window. That would be good for dinner, I thought, and got four. Well, they were fat and full, about two pounds total, and...they're already ground. Sausage short-cut!!! So I toasted some pine nuts, chopped up a lot of fresh rosemary, and made some absolutely dynamite lamb sausage.
How good were they? Damned good, but don't take my word for it: I took them to a Super Bowl party today, and two people asked me where I bought the sausage. Made it, I said. Wow, they said, it's great! Score!
And just to make it beer-friendly...let me say that the Chicken & Feta & Spinach was excellent with a dab of mustard and a glass of Lenny's R.I.P.A., which was part of a courteous gift to my host from Matt at the Beer Yard in compensation for a misunderstanding about a keg (once again proving that Matt Guyer rules the retail beer world).
These looks like Extreme Sausages to me, as opposed to Session Sausages.
Jeez, Stan, just go back to your Bob Evans patties and Bud Light, willya? These are traditional styles, man, nothing crazy. I'll admit, the Stilton is a bit different, but people around here have been adding cheese to sausage for years: I've got some Italian with aged provolone from Fiorella's in the freezer now.
See, I want to hone my technique and learn the basics of sausage-making before I try making anything "extreme." I thought that would be wise...
You make a good point on walking before running (and there are beer analogies there).
My comment was semi-serious because of your definition of session includes (and I agree) that the beer should not demand to be part of the conversation.
Ah, well, you have me there...a little. But this was a food-conscious crowd: I exchanged two recipes (got a good tip on deviled eggs, too), and folks were asking where everything came from (strombolis, tomato pie, jambalaya, ciabatta). Rightly so, because it was good stuff. For a good 45 minutes, food was the conversation.
That "not demand to be part of the conversation" is perhaps the most important part of the definition of session beer for me, by the way. I'm most sincere about it, as are you, apparently.
Stan drinks Bud Light?
Wait'll they hear this over at BA...
Your comment about making mustard is intriguing. Is it hard to get the stuff to make it? Can you make it as hot as you want? I love a good hot-ass mustard.
Yeah, you can pretty much make it as hot as you want: you can add Chinese mustard powder, which will hot it up, or fresh horseradish, or powdered wasabi, or fresh/dried pepper. Mustard is adaptable. It's kind of like homebrewing: it's not real hard to make palatable mustard. It takes some practice and art to make really exceptional mustard. Getting the ingredients is a snap: go to Penzey's (they're not cheap, but they are dead-on reliable: http://www.penzeys.com) and find two kinds of seeds and two kinds of powder. That's plenty to get started. Recipes? You're on your own, but I used a booklet I got at the Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, Wis. (they don't have that one any more, but you can get a starter kit from them that includes a booklet with 40 recipes: http://www.mustardmuseum.com). I trust Barry at the Museum: he's the mustard man. One tip: when they tell you to put it in the food processor till it's smooth...it can take six or seven minutes running flat out. Good results, though.
And if you do like a good, hot-ass mustard, without getting into hot sauce mustards, go for Brucken's hot Düsseldorf style. It rocks.
Thanks, Lew. I'll give it a try. Hope to see you at the Fox sometime again!
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