Something we have always wanted to get into was making sausages, ham and the like. For years we have been making dried beef, which is an excellent snack made from lightly salt cured and smoked, beef top round. We just wanted to expand on this and when my brother, Kim and his son, Jake recommended the book Charcuterie by Polcyn and Ruhlman, that was just the impetus we needed.
We built a smoke house about the size of an outhouse (4x4x7) and started making all sorts of things:
- Italian salami
- summer sausage
- snack sticks (we call them Mohels – if you want to know why you’ll have to ask)
- smoked salmon
- smoked cheese
- and of course, dried beef
Making the sausages can become quite a marathon since we do a bunch of them in a row so they can all go into the smoker at once. We have an old crank sausage press that I inherited from my family. The gearing on it is not very user-friendly so it takes a lot of force to press the meat into the casing and after a day of pressing, I am usaually sore the next day.
During the last sausage making marathon we made Mohels and pepperoni (in addition to other items), both of which are difficult to extrude. The Mohels are difficult because they are extruded out of a 1/2″ nozzle and the pepperoni is difficult because it is so lean and it is just thick. Anyway, whenever I press these type of materials I am pulling so hard on the press crank that I envision the handle breaking off and me punching myself in the mouth. Well, fortunately, it didn’t happen while pressing Mohels… but it did happen while pressing the pepperoni. The handle broke off and I hit myself in the mouth! Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been and since I got ice on it right of way, the swelling was minimal. Needless to say, we are looking for a better sausage press!