Update: Read what Slow Food Lions Gate co-founder Brenda Farrell had to say about this workshop on the Slow Food Lions Gate blog.
My first encounter with the local Slow Food scene came in the form of a fun sausage-making workshop care of Slow Food Lions Gate. Sebastian and Jessica of West Vancouver’s Sebastian & Co took us through a demo of how to make their Sicilian beef sausage before we broke up into groups to make our own.
We were given 6 recipes to choose from but were encouraged to branch out from that. A couple of groups did experiment, making bratwurst as well as a pork/beef blend with fennel seed and cumin. My group attempted Sebastian’s chorizo recipe which calls for four different hits of heat.
- 5 lbs pork, 40% hand-chopped
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 3/4 cup chipotle in adobe sauce, pureed
- 2.5 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cayenne
Directions (with visuals)
- Choose a casing for your sausage. Sheep casings are the smallest and most delicate at 2/3" – 1" in diameter, and are usually used for breakfast sausage. Hog casings are the more commonly seen size at 1.25" – 1.75". Beef casings can be as large as 4.25" in diameter. They are typically used for salamis or garlic sausage. Another option is synthetic casing, made from reconstituted collagen. These come in uniform packs and are made in a range of sizes.
- Untangle your chosen casing from the bundle it came from (it is usually hard-packed in salt). Rinse the salt thoroughly from the outer shell. Fill the inside of the casing with water like a hose and squeeze it through to rid the salt from its interior. Let soak in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the sausage filling.
- Grind the meat as specified. Chorizos are generally hand-chopped and/or coarsely ground. Breakfast sausages are made with finely ground pork.
- Assemble the wet and dry ingredients that make up your marinade. Massage this into the ground meat until thoroughly blended.
- Cook a sample patty of your sausage filling for a taste test. Correct the seasoning as needed; it’ll be much more difficult to change the flavour profile after the sausages have been stuffed!
- Stuff the filling into the casing using whatever equipment you have available. At home, that could be a pastry bag, a sausage attachment on your stand mixer, or even with your hands. Key points: tie a knot at the tail end of the casing; keep natural (animal) casings wet throughout the entire stuffing process; leave a bit of slack (do not overstuff) or the casing may rupture. Twist off and/or tie a knot at the other end of the casing when you are done.
- Twirl the first segment of sausage 4-5 times away from you to create the first link. For the next segment, twirl a similar length of sausage 4-5 times towards you to create the second link. Repeat, alternating the direction that you twirl each link.
- You generally want to hang your linked sausage for at least a day before separating into individual links. Separating them too soon may cause the casing to break apart.
After all of that, you should get beautiful chorizo much like this:
Since each group tried a different recipe, we all took home samples of each other’s creations. I arrived chez nous with a package containing our chorizo, Sebastian’s demoed Sicilian beef, lamb sausage with rosemary, bratwurst, the pork and beef blend with cumin and fennel seed, and a mild Italian chicken sausage.
That night we ate simply: a trio of fried sausage on a creamy bed of polenta.
For the next sausage dish, I took the Sicilian beef out of its casing and rolled it into mini-meatballs, tossing it with stellene, julienned asparagus, smoked hot paprika, olive oil, and roasted garlic. Fan-freaking-tastic.
This workshop was educational and fun, costing only $16 for a week’s worth of dinner. What more can you ask for? It also re-ignited my love affair with chorizo. However, I will no longer be satisfied with the bland mass-produced chorizo at our downstairs grocer. I’ll have to make a trip out to Sebastian’s shop in Dundarave soon and get us another fix!