….It’s better not to see how they are made. ~ Otto Von Bismarck (1815-1898)
We finally got around to our first foray into the wild world of charcuterie. And not just any old banger or wurst, we went right for the full-on gore that is blood sausage. Almost every region on earth has a variety of this resource-maximizing recipe, and we chose a user-friendly version of Portuguese morcilla. User (and eater) friendly in that there is a large quantity of pork meat to take some of the edge off. Many blood sausage recipes don’t use meat at all, just fat, spices, some kind of cereal filler, and of course, blood. The original recipe, instructions, and massively helpfull commentary can be found on the inspirational blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. I won’t replicate the whole thing here, just describe what is going on in our pictures, since the whole process is so well-explained by the recipe’s author.
Most recipes call for pork blood, but what we had available was beef, so we went with it. The meat is a 4lb. pork blade roast (with a nice little rack of spareribs attached that we hot smoked with the sausage).
The roast was well-marbled (Patty Pig didn’t miss many meals) and we also added 1/2lb of chopped pig fat.
It’s very helpful to have all the ingredients measured and deployed before you start. Following the steps in the original recipe saved a lot of hassle and kept the kitchen from complete chaos thanks to the many opportunities to pause in the process and clean up before the next step. We don’t have a very good kitchen scale right now, so some of our measurements were converted from weight to volume (i.e. grams to teaspoons).
The recipe calls for carmelizing the chopped onions in lard or duck fat. We used some of our stash of bacon grease because we thought it would add an interesting flavor. The blood was gifted to us previously and had been run through a grinder to ‘de-coagulate’ it before being frozen in 2-cup amounts. It thawed out fine.
Have lots of ice ready. You’ll need it to keep the ingredients chilled as you grind, and later to chill the links after they are poached. Here we’re grinding into a bowl that is set into a bigger bowl of ice.
We started out using the Kitchen Aid to stir the proto-sausage…
….but it was soon overwhelmed by the sheer bulk of the ‘stuff’….
…..so we resorted to the old-fashioned method.
Our manual vertical 7lb. capacity sausage stuffer is from Cabela’s. We pre-chilled the cylinder and stuffer tubes in the freezer.
Getting the hang of stuffing the sausage will take some practice. The ideal is to fill the casings tight enough to avoid air bubbles, but not so tight that the links will burst during handling & cooking. We used cotton kitchen string to tie the links in pairs.
The links were then poached in hot water, around 165F, to ‘set’ them, without cooking away all the fat, and chilled in a bowl of ice water.
The smoker was set up for cold-smoking using a blend of wood, heavy on the apple. We put the little rack of spare ribs from the roast inside the smoker, since we wanted this hot-smoked.
Partially-smoked links, hanging from hardwood dowels over the smoker, enclosed in a box to trap the smoke.
Our high-tech back porch smokehouse in action. Smoke was applied in 3 sessions, twice before bed, and once in the morning.
In times past, cold smoking was a way to cure meat for long-term storage, with no further cooking or preservation needed. This was often done by hanging meats in the chimney after fall slaughter so they would cure as winter progressed. We are cold smoking mainly to add flavor and a bit of color, so these sausages will need to be frozen or stored in the fridge and eaten within a few days. They will also need to be fully-cooked to be eaten safely.
The sliced & lightly fried (in butter) morcilla went down fast accompanied by toast, over-easy eggs, and few slices of malt vinegar pickled onion.