September 9, 2012
Up here in Canada, moose are like houseflies - there’s so many you just swat at them while they swarm about. Ha ha, I kid. To hunt moose in Nova Scotia you have to enter a license lottery, and everyone wants in on that. It’s no wonder; as game goes, moose is a mild, delicious meat that is low in fat.
Until you grind it up and add pork fat at a ratio of 4:1! Which is just what my friend Laura and I spent the afternoon doing, with some assistance from Steve. Laura had been gifted 10lbs of moose meat and I happen to have a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid and limited sausage making experience, so we were off to the races. We decided to make two batches: a mushroom, sage, gin and wine combo, and a rosemary, garlic and red wine variety.
Laura showed up at noon with a basin full of thawed meat, and we made magic. I purchased some pork fat yesterday from our local heros at Getaway Meat Mongers. This was left in the freezer until it was time to start, and then chunked.
TOP TIP: the colder the meat, fat and equipment, the easier this will be. We’re talking freezer cold. Of course today was an exceptionally warm and sticky day, with the humidex up near 90F, so this was a challenge. Rather than try to make room in the fridge, we opted for a cooler with ice packs to store the meat and fat between grinding, mixing and stuffing rounds. When working with the meat on the table, we kept in in a metal bowl which we placed in a larger bowl of ice.
But before we could grind the meat, we had to chop it up into reasonable chunks. That’s when we found out why someone was so generous in giving Laura 10lbs of moose meat. It was covered in silver, that insanely difficult to remove membrane that must be removed before you make sausages. To see if we could get some pro tips, we watched a video online. If I every find that smug kitchen witch who slipped the silver off that skirt steak in 10 seconds, I’ll fillet her.
So, one hour and a small amout of sobbing later, we had a reasonable bowl of meat chunks, and a bag of leavings that my sister’s dog will probably still be telling the local pooches about years from now. We were down to about 6lbs of moose meat. Sad, yes, but we soldiered on.
Now for the grinding. Our instructions said that the fat and meat should be ground twice, first with the coarse attachment and then the fine, with your seasoning being added before the second round. In the end, we thought we would have preferred a slightly coarser grind, but that’s just preference. Here’s a look at the fat going into the grinder first - at the second pass, mix it with the meat when grinding:
And here’s the meat:
Recipes – each using 3lbs of moose meat and 3/4 lbs of pork fat):
Mushroom and sage:
This recipe was poached from Hank Shaw’s Hunter, Angler, Gardener Cook site, with some modifications.
3 tbsp chopped sage, large handful chopped mushrooms, 1/2c chopped garlic scapes, a short 1/4c gin, a short 1/4c red wine, 1 tbsp sea salt, 1 tbsp ground pepper
Rosemary and red wine:
This one we just winged.
4tbsp chooped rosemary, 5 cloves chopped garlic, 1/4c red wine, 1 tbsp sea salt, 1 tbsp ground pepper
For both, we chucked all the ingredients in the food processor and blended til they were chopped quite fine.
Once the meat and fat were ground twice (and seasonings mixed in before the 2nd grind) the stuffing began.
Note: We used synthetic casings. The last time I made sausages, I used natural casings and let me tell you, they smell foul. You also have to soak them and then, like soggy yarn, pull apart what you need. However, having used synthetic, I would go back to natural casing next time. No matter which was we turned or how we twisted, these casings just kept unwinding. In the end, Steve was summoned to tie each sausage off as we twisted it. Annoying.
Stuffing is fun and stressful all at once. You take a length of casing and put on on your stuffer attachment like pulling up your sweater sleeve. Then you tie of the end, prick it once to allow any air out, and turn the machine on. It can take a few sausages to build up your technique and get comfortable with letting them really fill up and not be loose and soft.
There’s no shortage of bawdy jokes and painfully obvious imagery.
But in the end, you get this!
We did a test sausage and grilled the patty of leftover meat. Our verdict? Delish! With this recipe, we would not boil the sausage first, as it was just juicy enough when grilled only.
There you have it…sausages: not just for boys anymore.