Saturday, December 15, 2012

Russian Imperial Stout Sausage'ski

I've been working recently to expand my repertoire of fresh encased meats beyond the basic brat and Italian varieties and I've been going about that two ways.  First, I've been looking at recipes that pique my interest and trying new to me flavors, an example of this is my foray into the Greek Loukanikos sausages I made here.  I've also been looking to tweak existing recipes to fit my tastes which is closer to what happened here, kind of.  In fact I really screwed the pooch on this one and I'm lucky to have made it out alive.  I know, overwrought hyperbole but still, I could have really screwed up a few pounds of meat and that would have made me sincerely displeased with myself.  While trolling the ol’ net’ski I happened upon a recipe for Bookham Boozy Sausage posted on one of my favorite meaty sites:  which is attributed to Bob Daniels, Ken Davey Butchers, Great Bookham, Surrey.  It’s also available on this handy-dandy downloadable pdf here: [  ]

I thought this would be a good starting place and wanted rejigger the recipe eliminate the rusk for nonfat dry milk (NFDM).  For those not of the British Empire rusk is a cracker-esque bread that is ground and added to sausages in jolly old England much like we’d add breadcrumbs to meatloaf here in the States.  The rusk works similar to a panada in charcuterie terms by absorbing excess liquid and fat and creating a softer succulent sausage.  Now I’ve got nothing against soft and succulent, however, British sausages have often been described as less meaty than similar American counterparts and as a reformed vegan I want nothing to do with sub-meaty treatys.  In fact, if I’m going to be eating some animals I want to maximize my intake!  The best substitute for rusk is the aforementioned non-fat dry milk which I keep on hand exclusively for sausage-makin’, frankly the stuff is inedible when made into “milk”.

A couple other adjustments I wanted to make was the inclusion of beef and a change in the beer.  I had purchased a large roast to grind up for the fam and decided to poach/borrow some for a sausage project as I don’t think I’ve ever made sausage with beef.  The second was that while Guinness is tasty it’s not my favorite beer, I also wanted something with even bigger flavor.  I happened to have purchased some of my local Mission Brewery Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout to make mustard and thought I could also use the same brew in the sausage.  Unfortunately, after sausage making and some taste testing I didn’t have enough to make mustard so was forced against my will to consume the remaining beer.  Woe is me….  No when I say that this beer was dark and flavorful I might be understating things.  This stuff was chocked full o’ flavor, so much so that I almost need a knife and fork to cut off hunks, lots of coffee and dark chocolate notes, in a word, “mmmmmmmm….”

Another change that I wanted to make was to adjust how the ratio was listed.  The original recipe added all ingredients up to 100% which is fine but for some reason works a little less cleanly in my noggin.  I prefer recipes where the meat is 100% and all other ingredients are listed as a ratio or percentage of the meat.  Just works better for me…. And this my friends is where I should have taken that proverbial left turn at Albuquerque, because I went right.    

As I already noted, I really screwed the pooch.  Looking back at my notes I fouled things up with my ratio in a pretty spectacular fashion....however... it turned out really really good.  The funniest part of all is that because the recipe turned out so tasty I now have to make it again with what I assumed in hindsight were my mis-steps to recreate them and confirm their validity.  Doesn’t get much more convoluted than that!  This is where I think I went wrong (and to be frank I don’t know how I got there)….I ended up with nearly triple the amount of onion, nearly double the amount of spices and nearly double the salt. The recipe below reflects the positive screw-ups in spices and onion but I dialed the salt back down to 1.5%.  And as I mentioned all non-meat product percentages are based on weight of meat: 

HG Sausageworks Russian Imperial Stout Sausage 

2:1 ratio of pork shoulder to beef roast (beef trimmed of most fat)
10% fat back
20% Russian Imperial Stout beer
4.5% NFDM (non-fat dry milk)
2.8% fresh onion
1.5% salt
1.2% coriander, toasted and finely ground
0.3% black peppercorns, toasted and finely ground
0.3% allspice

Grind all of pork shoulder and beef through large die of grinder.

Regrind 1/2 of pork/beef mixture with fatback and onion through large die again.

Mix in rest of ingredients and stuff in medium-large hog casing (I used 42 mm).

This was a fairly wet mix but cooked up beautifully... 

The sausage had a very dark, meaty, manly flavor.  If you like a hearty meal this would be great with thick whole-grain mustard, some Russian rye and kraut….definitely winter-friendly food!