When life gives you lemons, make lemonade - or so the saying goes. This time, it’s more a case of, when life gives you sausages…grill them up? I’m not sure. I’ve always remembered this scene in The Cost of Living (The Next Generation) because I do believe that sausages are never a bad thing. Even if, as in Lwaxana Troi’s case here, you actually want some tea. While these sausages appear as a result of a replicator malfunction, I’ve always thought they looked delicious and am very happy to be making them.
I really enjoy making sausages at home and while it can be time consuming, it isn’t difficult. I normally buy natural casings from my butcher, but if you don’t have any casings you can still make the sausage mix and just cook it up either as mince or shape it into burgers. For this recipe, I wanted a lighter coloured sausage to match the ones shown, so went for a chicken sausage. I like the combination of chicken and basil - but you could always substitute other herbs if you prefer.
I absolutely believe that Lwaxana Troi would enjoy making sausages. She’d be a bit grossed out at first, but by the end she’d be coiling those sausages like the best of them!
Replicate your own
(Makes about 1.5kg or 3 pounds of sausages)
(Adapted from the tomato, basil and chicken sausage recipe in Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing)
You will need a meat mincer, a sausage stuffer and ideally a set of scales to weigh everything. I use the sausage-making attachments available for my mixer, but have made sausages before with a hand grinder and stuffer - it takes longer, but works just as well.
1kg boneless chicken thighs, diced
400g pork back fat, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
60g diced Roma tomatoes (fresh, not canned)
20g fresh basil
40g sundried tomatoes
40ml red wine vinegar, chilled
40ml olive oil
40ml dry red wine, chilled
2 metres of sausage casings
To successfully make sausages, everything needs to be kept as cold as possible. Place the metal parts of your mincer in the freezer for a few hours before you start the sausage making. If you don’t need a particular ingredient for a step, put it in the fridge.
If using casings, these will have to be soaked in tepid water for a couple of hours before they are ready to use. It’s also useful to run water through the casings to help flush out any impurities and to check if there’s any holes.
Start by dicing your chicken and fat into chunks. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, tomatoes (both fresh and sundried) and basil. Mix together as you would a salad. Refrigerate while you set up your mincer. Then grind the mixture using a small mincer disc.
If using a food mixer, switch to a paddle. Add the red wine vinegar, olive oil and red wine. Mix until the mixture get sticky and is well bound together.
Take out a small piece of mixture to test, and put the rest in the fridge. Cook up a small piece to taste for seasonings, and then adjust if necessary.
Once you’re happy with the taste of the mixture, it’s time to stuff. Leaving the mixture in the fridge, set up your sausage stuffer. Thread the casings onto the stuffer (some oil can help if they stick) - but do not tie the end off.
Retrieve the meat mixture and feed some of it into the stuffer and then stop the feed when the mixture is almost at the end of the stuffer. Tie off the casing (either by tying it in a knot or by using a piece of string) - this helps air bubbles stop forming.
Now stuff your sausages! Work at a steady pace, pushing the meat down with one hand and controlling how fast the casing is filled with the other. Coil the sausage around itself. Ideally you want to avoid air bubbles but if you do get some, these can be pierced with a small sharp knife or skewer.
Once all the meat has gone through, tie off the other end of the sausage and admire your handiwork. To make individual links, pinch the sausage at about 10cm/4 inch intervals and then twist the first sausage clockwise, the next anti-clockwise, and so on, until all links are formed.
Leave the completed sausages to dry out for a couple of hours. They can then be refrigerated or frozen until needed. To cook, the sausages can be gently baked in the oven or even poached in water or stock. I prefer broiling mine on a low-medium setting until they are uniformly brown, about 20 minutes.
- Both natural or collagen sausage casings may also possibly be available from BBQ supply stores, or definitely online
- If you don’t want to make links, you could always cook your sausage in a big coil (some skewers will be needed to keep them in place)
- If cooking these sausages on the BBQ, I would advise keeping the heat low. The natural casings tend to split quite easily (at least the ones I use do!)
- It is definitely easier to do the stuffing part if you have an extra pair of hands so get someone to help you if possible, especially the first few times you’re making sausages.