Monday, February 29, 2016

Homemade Mini Bangers


Mrs. Featherbottom is my favorite English nanny; sorry Nanny McPhee.

I bought a meat grinder attachment and then I bought a sausage extruding attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer a little while ago. I thought about what kind of sausage I wanted to try making for my first go around. I considered breakfast sausage and Italian sausage, but considering that they're both readily available at my local grocery (and already pretty delicious), I thought I'd give something a bit less accessible a go. My sister brought up an amazing sausage we had at the Wetherspoon's chain at the London Victoria station years ago. It was a super tender, soft sausage that made us go wide-eyed. That settled it: I was going to try and make a banger.

Bangers got their name from their tendency to explode during cooking. During WWI, the sausage mixture was literally watered down (with water) and with bread. The increased moisture content would cause the mixture to expand drastically and split the casings. I decided to go with smaller sausages, which I thought would help prevent the splitting phenomenon (because that makes it harder for the sausages to cook evenly). And, I thought it would be cuter.

I didn't water down my sausage mixture with water but I did add breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs give the sausages a more tender texture, which is exactly what I was going for. I used fresh thyme and grated nutmeg because I like the way they taste with pork but I think sage is also a common seasoning (and I think it would be delicious). I had actually bought sage to use in this recipe but I guess it fell out of the cart at the store. It worked out in the end though, because the thyme was fragrant enough and the sausages turned out delicious.
Ingredients [yields 3 to 4 dozen links]:
3 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped (or sage)
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup breadcrumbs
+ ⅜" sausage casing

By the way, this whole week is going to be dedicated to English fare.

Start by chopping the pork shoulder into 2" chunks. As I'm chopping, I like to put the meat on one side and the fat on the other, just because it makes it easier to control how much fat gets added to the sausage mix. I probably ended up using all but 3 or 4 chunks of fat in my mix.
I get the best results with my meat grinder when I chill the components first. So, pop the tray of pork and the grinder parts into the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Grind the meat through a coarse die first. Then, chill the meat for 10 minutes.
Then, grind the meat through a fine die.
Add the seasonings to the meat and start mixing it with a paddle attachment. Then, slowly add in the breadcrumbs. I made my own breadcrumbs.
Once the pork is mixed through, cook a little bit to make sure it's seasoned enough and adjust as necessary.
Prepare the sausage stuffing attachment and start stuffing. If you want a more traditionally sized sausage, go with a ⅝" casing. If you want a daintier, cuter sausage, go with a ⅜" casing, which is what I did.
Pinch the links, rotating in opposite directions after every link (to prevent unraveling of the previous links).
So cute!
Wrap the sausages in parchment. These will keep in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for a few months.
For the sausages going in the freezer, I wrapped a few sausages in a piece of parchment and wrote the number of links on it. That way, in the future, I can grab what I need.
Tuck the parchment-wrapped sausages in a zip-top bag.
To cook the sausages, fry them up; it's as simple as that. If you find that you're still struggling with snapping casings, try poaching them prior to frying them. These go great with a fry up but they're also great on a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy (which I'll be sharing tomorrow).

These turned out so good. The casings had a nice snap, the filling was delicious and tender, the seasonings were on point, and I'm so happy I have about two pounds left in the freezer which I will happily enjoy over the next few months.
Here's the recipe page:

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