A Sausage to Grind: The Healthy Butcher Workshop Series

Mario SpeaksThe sausage represents a willingness to accept that humans have killed an animal to eat and that not all cuts of meat come from the tenderloin or t-bone. The sausage comes from the fattier sections and from the trimmings too good to throw away. A butcher knows that if he is going to use whole animals then he will need to sell sausage links alongside his chicken breasts and filet mignon. A good butcher also knows that his clients who are too squeamish to try alternative cuts or flesh will not think twice about a perfectly formed link. Please just do not explain what the casing is made from and we will do fine.
Sausage BucksLast night marked my fourth workshop at The Healthy Butcher. Last night was their most popular session: the sausage. I will admit that I was more than a little interested. In the past six months I have mastered grinding a killer burger and making perfect pasta by hand; I have learned how to handler a boning knife alongside my Japanese blades and I invited a pie recipe that cannot be bested. Beyond learning how to make a brilliant loaf of bread, I have built up quite a repertoire of standards that I can share with the fictional family and tribe I hope to have to share my ideas with. Traditions are often the only legacy carried on for generations. Forget the sports car…invest in learning how to make a meal that your offspring dream of long after you are gone from this earth, and then share it with them in a magical, honest way that will live with them deep in the bloodlines.
Sausage BeerBut I digress…back to the meat. For me, the sausage can be the worst processed tube meat, made pink and fine into an emulsion. Sausage can also be a rough hash bound by seasonal flavours and whatever is near at hand, and that satisfies the body’s craving for quickly grilled meat. When I first moved to Toronto and had a $5 a day budget for food, I only could choose between a street vendor’s sausages or a dirty burger. Street meat usually won in the cold April wind.Mixing the MeatMaking a sausage is strikingly similar to the first part of making a solid burger: you grind the meat at whatever coarseness that you desire and then spice it accordingly. Unfortunately, we did not get to grind our own meat at the workshop, but to so so would have both taken away from the actual making of sausages and wasted meat if students struggled with the process. For my group’s part, we were content to go with having a butcher grind our pork with the coarse disk. With meat as beautiful as what The Healthy Butcher procures it would be a crime to go finer. PotsAs a beginner, I would think that this course would be a lot of fun. One night, twelve participants, a meat ingredient auction with sausage bucks and a nice plate of sausage cold cuts to spark our taste buds into action. The only thing missing: a few of the cold Steamwhistle beers that went into the demo sausage grind. As always the workshop was well worth my time and hard-earned cash. In the second part of this blog entry I will reflect more on the idea of where we source meat and why I have come to firmly believe that local producers and lost techniques are where North American kitchens new to head if we are to make in another century without real deprivation. What is the purpose of what a place like The Healthy Butcher offers us, if we cannot transition those ideas into other areas of our lives?
Sausage on Fire

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