The Charcutepalooza challenge for May was grinding. I had actually purchased the grinding attachment for my Kitchen Aid early, in anticipation of just such a challenge (plus, I really enjoy sausage, so I figured it would be worth the investment).
Not that I expected otherwise, but making fresh sausage was pretty much a breeze. Following Michael Ruhlman's master recipe for fresh garlic sausage, I got to go from this:
I must report that this project was not an entirely unmitigated success. After the first several minutes, the meat and seasoning mixture was exiting the extruder in a much more paste-like form than I anticipated, despite my efforts to keep everything cold (though failure to do so was probably a factor). When I went to clean the grinder, I discovered that tough meat sinews had been blocking the grinding plate and clogging up the blade, forcing the meat out smaller and smaller holes, thereby creating the paste-y consistency.
Luckily, the flavor was unaffected. The sausage was a bit too salty, but that's really only an issue if we're eating it on its own. My plans for the sausage mainly involve using it as a component in various tasty dishes, like the one below.
Once we work our way through the remaining two pounds of garlic sausage, I'm excited to try new flavor combinations!
When I think of a dish that is hearty and healthy, something like this is what comes to mind. Add to that that fact that it's a one-pot meal, and what we've got here is a real winner. It was largely inspired by the fact that I had the lentils on hand and half a bunch of lacinato kale that needed to be used up, and I decided to use the same red wine that I used in the sausage--the bottle was open and not yet empty.
French green lentils with sausage, kale, and red wine
1/2-1 cup of loose sausage (about two links, casings removed)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup French green (Puy) lentils
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 bunch lacinato kale, tough ribs removed, then roughly chopped
Splash of cider vinegar
- In a pot over medium heat, fry the sausage in lumps until browned and cooked through. Remove from the pot and set aside, leaving any grease in the pan.
- Add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes to the pot (as my sausage was not very fatty, I needed to add some olive oil). Saute until fragrant, a few minutes.
- Add the lentils and stir around to coat, then add the red wine and 1 3/4 cups water.
- Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are getting tender (you may need to add more water).
- Once the lentils are nearly done, add the sausage and kale. Stir to incorporate, then cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the kale is tender.
- Add the vinegar. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Serve.