Nothing like eating homemade Italian Sausage pizza for brain fuel to write this post. Homemade by me- not the pizza, but the sausage! Anyone who knows me or who has seen me hold a knife will tell you that I hardly cook. I know my pink chef’s coat may have you fooled as I definitely looked the part heading into work.
Don’t get me wrong I have the core essentials foods down: cereal, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, spaghetti, and chicken nuggets . It is extremely accurate to say that I eat like a 12-year-old at home. You can’t totally blame me as I’ve been in the service industry for 10 years with professional cooks to make me amazing dinners by the touch of a couple of buttons and/or a flutter of my eyelashes. This Activity Tuesday I was ready to get my hands dirty with Charlie Eure, Revolution’s Executive Chef, who taught me how to make Italian sausage!
I didn’t know what I was in for as I haven’t so much as fileted a fish and unlike most Wisconsinites, did not grow up with a hunting father. Revolution gets their pigs from La Pryor Farm in Ottawa, IL and they deconstruct them on site so many a times I have walked into the back to see a boiled pig head about to be used to make headcheese for the charcuterie board, tongues and hearts to make a Valentines Day bruschetta, or sausage being stuffed into casing for an apple and pork sausage. Needless to say, my curiosity factor almost always out weighs my gross out factor… in most aspects of life … sooo I was really hoping to do some butchering! And we did. As this is not a sausage blog I’m not going to give you every detail but here are some things that I learned…
When making Italian sausage we used the ‘pork butt’. I would have thought that this comes from the butt of the pig- nope, I was wrong. The butt is actually called the ham (great… ham being one of my favorite foods-of course it’s the butt!!) So the ‘pork butt’ is actually on the back and under shoulder. I used a boning knife to cut around the single bone and a chef’s knife to cut the pork butt into grindable size pieces. Wow, these are what good, sharp knives are like?! I also had to make sure to remove the silver skin (Silver skin is that layer of white, opaque connective tissue. It’s hardly edible, and tough as rubber) and a couple of glands. Gross.
Another very important thing I learned is that in order for the meat and fat to get through the grinder it has to be cold. We iced the grinder and partially froze the meat. We also made a pan full of ice with salt poured over. The salt’s purpose is it to decrease the temperature of the ice and actually make it colder-this will in Charlie’s words, ‘expedite the process’. This will not work with the salt made to melt the ice on the driveway, by the way.
*** Sidebar tip from Charlie and probably the only thing you’ll take away from this posting: if you have warm beers and you pour salt on your cooler’s ice and spin a few beers it, it will be stone cold in no time- much colder than if you just ice alone!
We then surrounded it with another ice tray and stuck it in the freezer. The reason for this is pig butt is 30% fat and 70% meat and as the fat goes through the grinder it will get warm and start to melt, the grinder will have a hard time pushing it out and slicing the meat through the holes when this happens.
Next: herbs- what a pain in the butt picking herbs are… I began to lose interest. 😉 We used fresh oregano, thyme, and parsley.
Chopping herbs- more exciting than picking herbs! Tamera witnessed my slicing technique and said “oh, you really don’t cook, do you?” She came over to give me her assistance. Here is the technique she shared: She held the front part of the blade down into the cutting board and then was free to slice by raising and dropping the back part of the chef’s knife. It turns out that I bruised the oregano by chopping so vigorously… this weighs more significant if it was being used as a garish because it turns the herb blackish in color.. since we’re making sausage though- no worries! Thank God! Because I did not want to re-pick it!
We mixed in all the ingredients and got grinding!! It reminded me of a play-do hair salon. 🙂
We whipped it until it was ‘tacky’
We cooked a sample patty to check for flavor and consistency.
More salt and voilá!
***The most important lesson that I will take with me: Always make sausage where you have someone to wash your dishes for you!
I brought my finished sausage downstairs and Ryan whipped me up an amazing sausage pizza! Making the pizza myself would have been overkill on the cooking; baby steps. I have found its also important to find a cute guy that likes and is willing to cook-this is an invaluable quality to have. Ryan not only made a great pizza but took my picture with my cheesy grin and first ever homemade sausage!!
Not going to lie, it tasted amazing and I got to share it with everyone! No one has even gotten sick. Hurry into Revolution and order something with Italian sausage because it was made with lots of love by me♥- JM! Do you see my initials- that means I made it!!