I consumed so many delicious things this year, it's really hard to pin down one meal or one bite. But if there was a night that stands out, and a single dish that truly made me happy, it has to be a sausage sampler that I consumed with my best friend Don in early November. He showed up one night with some Spanish chorizo sausages, a blood sausage, a couple of wedges of runny cheese, and a small cooler with a few kick ass craft beers in it.
We pan fried the sausages with a little olive oil, then poured some of Stone's Vertical Epic 11.11.11 into the pan to finish them off. This year's offering from Stone (their 10th beer in the Vertical Epic series) is a strong Belgian ale spiced with cinnamon and anaheim chilies from Hatch, New Mexico. It was the perfect compliment to the sausages. We drank the rest of what the sausages didn't swim in. Then we drank another bottle.
Among the sausages we stuffed in our faces that night was my homemade catalan-style pork and garlic sausage. If you like the simplicity of pork and garlic, you'll absolutely love this. And who doesn't like meat in tube form? Sausage tastes and looks like it takes a ton of skill to make. But if you have a stand mixer, meat grinder, a sausage stuffer, and a little patience, it's deceptively easy to pull off. Michael Ruhlman's book Charcuterie taught me all I needed to know to make perfect sausage (and my own bacon too).
There's also my Sausage Party episode of Dude Food if you want to see how it's done.
Homemade Catalan Pork Sausage
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (the fattier the better) cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound pork fat cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of white wine for the meat (I like to use white Bordeaux, but you can use anything - just no muscat or anything too sweet)
1 cup of white wine for you (or red, if you prefer)
9-10 feet of hog casings that have been rinsed of salt and soaked in warm water for 45 minutes
Mix the pork, pork fat, salt, pepper, and garlic in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or put the bowl into the freezer for an hour until the meat is very cold or stiff, but not completely frozen.
Grind the meat in your meat grinder, placing the ground meat in a bowl.
Place the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, add the meat to the mixing bowl, and mix on low for one full minute. If you don't have a stand mixer, mix by hand with a wooden spoon (but seriously think about purchasing a stand mixer while you do). Turn the mixer to medium speed, then start adding the wine in a steady stream. Keep mixing until the meat is very sticky.
Now would be a good time to start drinking. Where's that wine?
Fry a bite-sized portion of the sausage and taste it for seasoning. If it needs salt, add it now. Want more pepper? Add some now. Once you stuff it into casings, you can't do anything to it. If you do add anything to the sausage, mix it for an additional minute after you do.
Stuff the sausage into casings, twist, refrigerate, enjoy. Cook the sausages to an internal temperature of 150 degrees. These sausages are great on their own, served with white beans, and absolutely perfect in a nice hot bowl of classic French Cassoulet.
Bon Appetit, and Happy Holidays!
Phil Nigash shares his passion for food and cooking via podcast on his blog My Life as a Foodie.