By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
Oh, will wonders never cease? I was on the phone with my girlfriend today and I was haphazardly planning a trip to the mountains with my son this weekend. She politely mused, “Umm, you know that you have the catering this weekend, right?”
I quickly quipped “No, that’s in a few wee…… oh, crap! How is it the end of February already”?
Scrambling to get my head wrapped around the parties this weekend, I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, lowered my shoulders, did a downward and upward dog and then told myself that we had everything under control.
Good lord, how did this happen? It is literally insane that March is next week. Don’t get me wrong. This is an amazing time for us, as it only means that Spring is right around the corner. The ocean becomes a playground again, both on the beach and offshore, we start to see weddings taking place throughout the shore, perhaps the sun will shine a touch more than it has recently and above all, we will finally be done with the wettest, dampest, chilliest winter that I can remember. Really? 32 degrees and raining? That’s just plain cruel.
And as we usher Spring in, it will be a time when recipes transition (typically) from the thicker, heartier and heavier foods of winter to more of the fresh and vibrant dishes that we would all like to eat on vacation; watermelon salad, chilled soups and ice cold drinks come to mind.
But for now, we are still in the grind of this bizarre winter of ours, and I had to share this breakfast dish that I made last week. Yes, it is for breakfast, although I know I could not personally eat this every day. But, when the snow, ice and slush were falling last week, this is just what the doctor ordered.
I don’t know about you, but I like to keep a decent stock of, well, stock on hand. I typically have chicken and beef vacuum packed and frozen in smaller bags that I can use as needed. They come in quite handy.
Simply put, I poached then grilled some homemade pork and duck sausage, using a grill pan that would catch all of the juices and fats as the sausage cooked. Deglazing the pan with some stock, a little butter was added, and the broth was complete. Yes, this is definitely a hearty dish, but man oh man was it perfect to get the day going.
Served with some over-easy eggs, it certainly fueled me for the day ahead.
One word of advice, though, is with the meat grinder. Always make sure that everything is chilled in ice water throughout the process. That will leave you with a nice, fatty and delicious sausage. And if you have a plastic meat grinder attachment for your stand mixer, make a planter out of it and search for a metal one. They can be a bit pricy, but they are well worth the small investment as it mimics the large commercial ones that we use in the industry.
At the end of the day, making sausage is incredibly simple, and it is a skill well worth learning. Don’t worry. You can use it for light, seafood sausages as well. You know, like in the Spring.
Pork & Duck Sausage
makes about 4#
1# Duck breast with skin
2.5# Pork butt
4 oz. Bacon
1 Tbsp. Sage
1 Tbsp. Fennel seeds
1 Tbsp. Paprika
2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. Cracked black pepper
Salt to taste
1. Keep your grinding attachment or grinder ice cold. Place any removable metal parts in an ice bath.
2. Cut the duck into small enough pieces to fit through the grinder with ease, ensuring that it stays cold.
3. Do the same with the pork butt, but pay attention to removing the sinew as this will clog the grinder
4. At the end of the day, make sure that your meat to fat ratio is around 3 to 1. If you go less than 25 percent fat, you stand the chance of having a dry sausage. No one wants that.
5. Cut the bacon into chunks.
6. Toss the ingredients together in a large bowl, again ensuring that it remains cold. I know I’m a broken record, but this helps the emulsification, which is a fancy science word for making sure that it all stays together. If it gets warm during the process, then you stand the chance of all the fat running out in the cooking process. We don’t want that.
7. Run your mixture through a large grinder plate twice and you are almost done!
8. Place in a stand mixer bowl and beat with the paddle attachment. Add crushed ice if you feel that the mixture is getting too warm. This will help the mixture emulsify.
9. Pay attention, as this is probably the single most important step. Take a small patty and cook it up. This is called a tester or taster. This will tell you what you need to add to balance out the seasoning to your taste. If you wait until you have stuffed your sausage casings, it is too late.
10. And you are now done. You may stuff it into casings as in the picture, or you can use this as patties, stuffing or in meat sauces. Voila!
Paul Suplee is a Professor
of Culinary Arts at Wor-Wic
Community College and
owner of boxcar40.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com.