“The key to sausage is always to taste it. You can’t trust measurements especially when you’re making 30 pounds of it, so it’s important to always make a little patty and fry it up to taste – and it’s a good idea to wear plastic gloves during this process.” – Chef Saul Bolton.
For the apples:
- 5 apples, like Northern Spy, peeled
- 1 tablespoon oil or butter, plus more for later
- ½ teaspoon quatre epices
- Pinch of salt
For the onions:
- 1 tablespoon oil or butter
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 glove garlic, minced
For the sausage:
- 2 ½ pounds pig’s head, or pork shoulder or any other meat product*
- 2 pounds diced fat back
- 550 grams fresh bread crumbs (about 4-5 slices white bread, crusts removed, processed until fine)
- 3 tablespoons quatre épices**
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Heavy cream, 3 cups
- 5 whole eggs
- 4 cups blood***
- Narrow beef middles, enough for 30 pounds of sausage****
- Plastic gloves
- Large mixing bowl
- Large pot, maybe two depending on how big they are and if you are making all 30 pounds of sausage
- Kitchen twine
- Pastry bag
- Sausage pricker
*Note: For pig’s head, Vanderbilt usually covers the whole head with cold water, salt, a little vinegar then brings up the heat (this rinses the head), skims off any impurities that rise to the surface, then adds aromatics like carrots, onions and celery, a bay leaf, some pink curing salt. Then they break down the head, shred it and freeze it in parts until needed. You can cook other pork products in the same way, just cut into chunks when you cook them.
**Note: French for “four spices,” referring to a mixture of typically pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon or cloves.
***Note: Bolton buys his blood fresh, but you can buy market blood at a butcher, although it might have some added salt and gelatin, but it will still work.
****Note: You can order any online or ask your butcher for them, and you can use any kind of casing like Kielbasa.
For the apples:
In a frying pan, add the oil or butter, the apples, quatre épices and salt and cook until soft but not falling apart. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the onions:
In a frying pan, add a thin layer of oil or butter, then add the garlic and onions and cook until they are soft and translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the sausage:
Place the pig’s head in a large mixing bowl. Add the fat back, bread crumbs, apples and onions. Add three tablespoons quatre épices and first batch of salt. (You will be adding quite a bit because it has to makes its way through the fat). And add a generous amount of pepper. Add a little cream to the eggs so it’s easier to mix, and pour that mixture into the bowl along with the rest of the cream. Mix well.
Then add the blood. Stir to combine, mixing thoroughly. If it looks thin, then add some more bread crumbs. At this point, take a spoonful of the mixture, make a little patty and cook it in some hot oil, turning when bottom half is cooked (it will look burned, but that is just the color of it). See what it tastes like and adjust seasoning as needed.
Fill the largest pot that you have (what you will be poaching them in) with water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then simmer. Depending on how many links you make, you may need two pots of boiling water going. Remove the middles from their liquid and measure the width of the pot you are using to gage how long to cut the casing — Do not cut the middles longer than the width of the pot. Tie one end of the casing with kitchen twine.
Then place the casing over the tip of the pastry bag, and, over a cookie sheet or the kitchen sink (to help with clean up), place some of the mixture into the pastry bag and squeeze. If you don’t have a pastry bag, then you can do it with a teaspoon – it just depends how much time you have…
This process is made easier with two people, one to hold the bag and squeeze, while the other pushes the meat down the casing, sliding their fingers in a downward motion to make sure that there are no air holes.
When there is about 3-inches of middle left, pull and stretch the casing and tighten, making sure there is no air. Use twine to tie the other end tightly. If you aren’t able to tie it tight enough, hold the un-tied end up, so the sausage is hanging down vertically and wrap the string around, and around and around, working your way down. You can also make a cute little bow when you’re done.
Using a sausage pricker or cake tester (or a tooth pick), prick both sides of the sausage at 2-inch intervals. If you don’t prick it, then any air in there will burst, plus, the eggs will cause it to expand when cooked, so it needs the space.
Place the sausage in the pot of simmering (not boiling) water; you can add as many you can fit in the pot (as long as they are submersed in water). Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours, turning over every ten minutes or so. To test for doneness, prick it again and if no blood comes out, then it’s done. Immediately place it in an ice bath and let sit for about 45 minutes to an hour so that it can cool all the way through. Once cooled, you can cut into it right away and eat it or cook it.