Last week I rang my sister and found her in the midst of making caramels to give as edible gifts for Christmas. Well, I thought, I refuse to be outdone by my little sister and her sticky sweeties and besides, why do edible gifts always have to be sweet? What could be yummier than, say, a string of hand-made, homemade sausages?
Enter Dhruv Baker, MasterChef winner and my partner in crime for this sausage-making extravaganza, who has enough kit for a life-time of snag-making.
When I arrived at Dhruv’s kitchen, I found him looking at 10kg of pork (a mix of belly and shoulder) with joy and some trepidation that we were going to have to mince the whole lot with a rather lovely but old-school hand mincer.
First up was to skin and chop the meat into manageable chunks. A quick blast in the freezer helps to make it firm and easier to mince, as the high fat content of pork belly (needed to keep your snorkers juicy) can be difficult to mince if too warm.
After an exasperating 10 minutes, where the pork was turning to meat mush rather than mincey strands, we finally got the mincer assembled correctly. The 10kg of pork was minced to perfection in no time, no thanks to my underdeveloped biceps – turns out I’m better suited to feeding the machine rather than providing the manpower.
To our tottering pile of porcine goodness we added a small amount of rusk (a sausage without rusk ends up bouncy and hard), seasoning (salt, pepper and fennel seeds) and a little water. Once it was all squished together by hand we were ready.
The best bit about making sausages, once you get past the childish-but-necessary smutty jokes, is the part where you get to fill the skins or cases with your homemade mince. It’s a fine art, and not easily achievable on your own.
Once we got over issues of air bubbles and over-filling, which turns sausages into bangers (literally), we hit our stride and set up a steady rhythm. Soon we were producing length after length of shiny, beautiful sausage.
We fried a few up, just to check they were indeed the best sausages we’d ever tasted – and I now have a freezer full of beautiful sausages, ready to be given out lovingly to friends and family.