Tue Sep 20, 2011
On my god, you're going to hate me. Remember how excited I was to get a 5-lb vertical stuffer for my birthday back in January? Well, in my small kitchen, I found a rather inconvenient place to store this giant and there is sat, unused all summer. I had every intention of using it way sooner, but it didn't happen, and I deserve the shame that comes with that. There's good news though, I finally busted it out and made some stellar sausages. Not these sausages in particular, but to be honest, this chicken sausages with basil and tomatoes were a bit better than what I made recently—actually these chicken sausages were some of the best I've ever made!
I've been learning that you need to pack sausage with as much flavor as possible, so when it comes to fruits, dried is usually better. These sausages started with sun-dried tomatoes and healthy portion of garlic.
Some fresh tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper were added into the mix and then tossed with cubed, skin-on, boneless chicken thighs. I'm not sure if leaving the skin-on here is gross or brilliant, but its been my "trick" to getting the right amount of fat into chicken sausages without the need for pork fat back ever since I started making sausage.
The meat mixture was then sent through the small die of Kitchen Aid grinder—which may just be the next piece of sausage making equipment to get an upgrayedd. Afterwards it took a spin in the mixer, where cold red wine, vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil were added.
A quick test patty confirmed that the seasonings were all there, tasting so good that it had me all excited to get them stuffed and to the grill.
Unfortunately this was prior to the vertical stuffer acquisition, so I struggled through getting these into hog casings in the slow and unsteady Kitchen Aid stuffer attachement. Having now used a true sausage stuffer, I can't imagine why I ever subjected myself to the torture of the KA, not only did it take forever and require way too much effort, it left me with tons of air pockets in the final links—you can see them in this photo. I'm so glad that all of that is now a thing of the past.
Struggle as I did, it was not for naught, as these were incredible sausages. The sun-dried tomato lent a ton of flavor, and matched against fresh tomatoes and basil, the links had a nice, bright taste. The vinegar and wine both added an acidity that seasoned the meat throughout. Each link burst with juiciness after an initial snap from the casing, leaving nothing but a pleasing Italian flavor that makes sausage such an excellent treat (and now making me feel even more guilty for taking so long to make some this summer).
Chicken Sausage with Basil and Tomatoes
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman, Brian Polcyn, Thomas Keller
5 pounds skin-on boneless chicken thighs, cubed
1 1/2 ounces kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons tightly packed chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh diced Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, chilled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry red wine, chilled
10 feet hog casings, soaked in tepid water for at least 30 min and rinsed
1. Combine the meat, salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and tomatoes and toss together until evenly mixed. Chill until ready to grind.
2. Grind the mixture trough the small die into a bowl set in ice.
3. Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the vinegar, oil, and wine, increase the speed to medium, and mix for 1 more minute, or until liquid is incorporated and the sausage has a uniform, sticky appearance.
4. Fry a bite-sized portion of the sausage, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
5. Stuff the sausage into the hog casings and twist into 6-inch links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.
6. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly over the charcoal grate. Grill the sausage over direct heat until cooked through, having an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.