"Fairest of months! Ripe summer's Queen,
The hey-day of the year,
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen,
Sweet August doth appear."
At least that is what it says on one of my mom's placemats. I believe those lines should be attributed to Gillian Douglas, but a Google search did not turn up much on her, maybe because she's Canadian.
But August is the fairest of months, the sweetest of summer, we start to get some cool nights, the garden is mature, tomatoes and peppers must be picked. It is also my favorite time to visit the family homestead in Columbus.
JL hitched in for a short visit too. She is off to Ethiopia next week and has promised dispatches from the New Flower (Addis Ababa) for our humble blog. She'll be there for a year. To send her off in a proper fashion I figured to make some sausage. JL said she hadn't had a decent chicken sausage and wondered if we were up to the challenge.
We went to Weiland's Market for supplies. Weiland's has been in the Clintonville area forever and it has always been the place to go for meat. About six years ago they vastly expanded when they took over a space that used to be an A&P (Yeah, I remember when it was an A&P, and Volunteers of America was a Buckeye Mart). Now they offer an extensive selection of gourmet stuff, perfect for the summertime party. We picked 3 ½ pounds of chicken thighs, some pork fat (trimmed on the spot and free), a few Ohio peaches and bottle of Piesporter Michelsberg.
Making sausage is relatively easy, but there are some details to follow and I recommend you read about it. Some good books are: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing, Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book , or Cooking by Hand. You should be able to get any of these books at the library. As for equipment, you need a grinder and a stuffer. Provided you have a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer, the easiest and cheapest way to get grinding and stuffing is with a grinder and stuffing attachment. The Charcuterie book offers specific instructions using this equipment.
I don't know what kind of peppers these are, but the red ones are kind of hot.
Now for the sausage. We got some mystery peppers out of the garden (I say mystery because we only bought poblanos jalapenos and sweet reds and these look like none of the above), roasted, cored, seeded and chopped them up for the mix. I diced the Chicken and the fat and tossed them with some cornstarch. The cornstarch idea comes from stir-fry; a cornstarch dusted meat retains its water, I dunno it works in the Phad Thai, see if it works here. Then I mixed in the toasted spices, and some garlic and a let it sit for a hour.
Let it sit longer if you have the time. I put the mixture in the freezer for ½ hour before grinding. Then I ground it into a bowl sitting in an ice bath.
You gotta keep the sausage cold or the texture will be bad. After grinding, I mixed the sausage with the paddle attachment for about a minute adding the vinegar.
Mom helped with the stuffing.
Time for the grill. As you can see here our little sausages are bursting at the seems. JL asked why we didn't boil them first. I gave her a long winded answer that wasn't entirely accurate but after a little reading here's what I should have said: Boiling (more accurately poaching in a water bath 180-200F, which I did say) is a good way to get a sausage up to temperature. It's gentle and accurate. Cook a sausage to 160F (maybe a little higher for chicken), beyond that cooking just dries it out. However poaching imparts little flavor; Grilling has the best flavor. The problem with grilling is controlling the heat. If a sausage cooks too fast it may burst and get over cooked. Grill over medium heat. Our fire here was a little hot.
Time for dinner. Some tomatoes from the garden chopped up with some fresh mozzarella, corn pudding from grandma, and to drink peach sangria. With peaches in season what could be better.
The sausages turned out very nice. Usually a chicken sausage has dry and flat taste, but I think the added fat and the roasted peppers brought the meat around for a full flavor and plenty of moisture. I don't know if the cornstarch helped with the moisture issue, I'll try it sometime without it. The ingredient list follows.
JL adapted the peach sangria recipe from Bon Appetit, August 2003. 1 bottle of white wine, 750 ML of white cranberry Juice, ½ cup peach schnapps, 4 peaches peeled and sliced and 1 lemon sliced.
Italian Chicken Sausage with roasted peppers.
3-1/2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs
¾ lb Pork fat
8 oz (weight before cooking) Mild peppers (Anaheim)
2 Cloves garlic, peeled minced
30 g Kosher flake salt
20 g Paprika
16 g Whole fennel seed, toasted
8 g whole coriander seed, toasted
2 T Cornstarch
175 ml Cider Vinegar