Eileen Clarke’s new book, Sausage Season, is the best on sausage making I have ever read, and I want to get out a review early enough that you can use it (or give it for Christmas). I have tried my hand making cased sausages, and so have friends in town. Almost always, the results are too hard and dry, without what Eileen calls the “creamy” texture of good sausage. The secret is fat (just as the secret of most, say, French cooking, is butter– read Anthony Bourdain).
To quote her:
“To figure out much fat you like, try the Easy Breakfast Patties master recipe… I would start with the 1:1 fat ratio some morning with eggs and toast. If that’s a bit fatty, make it again in the2:1 lean to fat ratio… My guess is you’ll like the 2:1 for patties or bulk and the 1:1 for casing.”
In a letter to me, she added: “you see the problem with cased sausage. It took me two years to figure it all out, and we ate a lot of bad sausage.”
If you know anything about Eileen, you will know she persisted, and that this basic stuff is just the beginning. She and her husband, John Barsness, have eaten nothing but wild meat at home for decades, and because they are serious cooks– Eileen unapologetically calls herself a “foodie”– they know how to cook in a gloriously varied manner, unlike some friends here, who burgerize everything. Even in what might seem like a good but narrowly focused book, her choices range from Polish Dill Sausage to Goosewurst and even Ginger Potsticker Sausage (one I am eager to try). Her detailed descriptions of technique, always a strong point, are particularly useful in this specialized area. She even tells you how to make your own salami and bologna.
This one goes on my permanent cooking shelf. It is available from Rifles and Recipes for $28 postpaid. You will never have to eat dry hard crumbly sausage again.