Sausage making workshop
Updated: Jul 19, 2019
Set in the grounds of the beautiful Welbeck Estate is the School of Artisan Food and Drink. Take a read about one of the classes that I took there.
I recently took a sausage making class with the School of Artisan Food and Drink in Nottinghamshire. It is situated on the beautiful Welbeck Estate which is nestled amongst Sherwood Forest. I highly recommend a visit as there is plenty to do including galleries and a farm shop.
The class was run by Chris Moorby who has worked in the butchery business for 35 years and been teaching for 25 years. I donned my red butchers apron and started with a bit of a history lesson. The term sausage comes from the latin ‘salsus’ for seasoned and spiced. Typically, the sausage is encased in a skin made from the intestine. Sheep intestine is narrow and used to make chipolatas. A pig has a slightly wider intestine and is therefore used to make the thicker sausage. As I was listening to Chris you could hear his passion in his voice about this meat product that can have a bad reputation but as he insisted if made well and properly can be delicious.
For a simple sausage recipe you only need four ingredients; lean pork, fatty pork, salt and black pepper. There are five steps to the sausage making process. They are easy to follow if you have the right equipment but must be followed accurately as you can completely alter the texture of sausage if something is missed. I also added a couple of steps, cooking and eating, as there is no point making them if you don’t do these!
I didn’t take any pictures of the first two stages. There’s a lot of touching raw meat for the first two steps and I didn’t want to get all that stickiness all over my phone. The idea is to keep everything cold throughout the process, so the meat is refrigerated before mincing. Chris even recommended to chill the mincer before use so it didn’t warm up the meat too much. The lean meat needed to be minced coarsely and the fat finely. This was important in order to protect the proteins in the lean mince. It was also important to keep the two separate for the next stage.
Probably the one most important thing that I took away from the whole class was at the mixing stage. You should always add the salt to the lean mince and mix this in first. It should be done by hand because over mixing can ruin the texture. Chris demonstrated that the lean mince before the salt was crumbly and couldn’t stick together. After adding the salt and mixing by hand for a minute the lean meat became sticky and mouldable. Adding the salt first is top tip for any form of food product made from minced meat such as sausages as well as burgers and meat balls. The next step is to mix in the other flavourings, in this case black pepper, and finally the minced fat.
"Always add the salt to the lean mince and mix this first"
Again this stage involves handling raw meat so I took before and after pictures. We used a manual hand crank to push the mince through a cylinder, then a nozzle and into the intestine skin. You can get this in most butchers and it needs to be soaked in water before starting. We worked in pairs throughout this task with one of us turning the crank shaft and the other holding the casing. It was important to work at a constant rate in order to get an even sausage. We worked slowly in order to stuff the casing at just the right amount. Too much and the casing would burst when it came to linking and too little you would end up with wrinkly casing.
Chris showed us a cheat way of linking whereby we ended up with sausage in pairs rather than in fours. He assured us that his students take a long time to learn the technique and I was happy with this method!
This part is the easy bit! Leave them to cure for 24 hours in a fridge. This just lets the intestine skin to harden and makes it easier to cut the links when you're ready to cook.
After all the hard work there is one final step before you can tuck in. Chris was adamant that you should only pan fry or grill your sausages. So when I got home the frying pan came out and in when my sausages. I stuck at a medium heat and turned them every so often for an even cooking. It didn't take long, about 15-20 mins. I served mine with sweet potato wedges and peas. And they were TASTY!
We had some left over mince after the stuffing stage. Chris had shown us a technique of wrapping it up tightly in cling film, leaving it to chill and then par boiling. This set the protein in the meat into a sausage tube shape. After carefully unwrapping I was able to fry it up in a pan to finish cooking it through. A great way of using up the meat but not so much on the plastic use. Alternatively I would recommend just to make little patties or meat balls out of the remainder.
After taking this class I found a new appreciation for the humble sausage. I'm saving up to afford the mincing and sausage making attachments for my Kitchen Aid so I can get creative with my recipes.