Toulouse sausages…

These sausages are a step on the path to a mighty cassoulet that I intend to make soon. The inspiration for the cassoulet comes from Tim Hayward’s book, “The DIY Cook”. The book can actually be bought new for less than half the price Amazon are asking.

Along the way to the cassoulet, I have already made and stored confit duck legs, and petit salé, which is a sort of French cured pork, a bit like bacon.

The Toulouse sausage recipe I used, however, is not the one in this book, as I liked the look of the recipe I found online, on a blog called “Adventures with the Pig”. I used rather more meat than he does, 2 kg in fact, and left out the breadcrumbs, which I feel have no place in a sausage. You don’t have to take my word for that, and are at perfect liberty to add things to your sausages if you want to. Of course, they’ll be inferior, but the freedom!

I used one kilo of pork shoulder (pork butt, if you are on the left of the Atlantic Ocean), and one kilo of pork belly. They were cubed and frozen, before being allowed to nearly defrost. Doing that stops the loss of delicious meat juice during the mincing. This one requires the coarse setting of your mincer, as it’s supposed to be a nice rustic sausage.

Here are the casings, in this case, they are hog casings. They need to be soaked for a couple of hours before use. There’s no getting away from it, these things are unpleasant to handle, but either you want real sausages, or you don’t.

There are people who insist on using a hand powered mincer, and I imagine they have one arm very much bigger than the other. Here’s what I use, on our trusty Kenwood Chef. I’ve had that plastic bowl since 1979, if you were wondering. (Update: I recycled the plastic bowl. It was getting fairly thin in places…)

The other ingredients are thyme, black pepper, nutmeg, garlic, red wine (200 ml) and about four teaspoons of salt. Ordinary cooking salt is fine. You don’t need Nigella’s beloved Maldon salt, or kosher salt, whatever that is.

Here we go! Add the herbs, spices, salt, and red wine to the minced meat, put on your CSI glove, and get stuck in. I always hold my gloved hand under a tap, to attempt to remove the talc, or whatever it is, from the glove before I get started on this.

Mix for a good long time, until everything seems to be properly blended. This can easily take ten minutes, by which time you will have a worryingly cold hand.

Once you think you have mixed it enough, take a little sample, and fry it, so you can check you are happy with the flavourings. Adding more, if something seems to be lacking, is easy, but I have no idea what to do if I think I have put too much garlic. This has never happened, but I am a great fan of garlic…

Caption competition.

The casings need to be slid onto the sausage stuffing attachment. It’s easier if you keep them as wet as you can. I’m going to refrain from all the remarks almost every other web site makes about this process at this point.

Load up the machine with mince, and away you go…

Left hand guides the sausage, and slows down the casing, so it fills properly, while your right hand pushes the meat down into the machine. If you are left handed, you will need to stand on your head, or turn the machine round.

You can twist them into links as you go, or when you have finished. I’ve done them both ways, and the results seem much the same.

In a surprisingly short time, you will have lovely sausages, in large numbers. I tend to divide them into groups big enough for a meal and cling film them before freezing them.