Search This Blog

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Buffalo Summer Sausage. A Winter's Revelation

I was totally inspired when a colleague at work decided to make summer sausage.  I love that sort of thing.  I have always been fascinated with charcuterie, making my own duck prosciutto, cured salmon, ground sausage links, pates, and terrines, but have generally stayed away from actually curing meats  because curing seemed just too precise, difficult, and frightening.  I mean, pink salt? Saltpeter? Sodium Nitrate?  I don't have a smokehouse, curing chamber, or the patience for long cured meat making.

Summer sausage is different.  It's easy, quick to make, and uses a very tame sounding Morton's Tender Quick Salt for curing. No laboratories involved. Morten's Quick Salt does contain 6 % sodium nitrate which is essential for curing.  At least it's not pink or acrid smelling.  It simply  looks like salt.

2 pounds ground meat.
2 Tablespoons Morton's Tender Quick Salt.
2 Tablespoons brown sugar.
1 TeaspoonMustard Seeds.
1 Teaspoon peppercorns.
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt.
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder.
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice.

That's it.   The important element being the salt to meat ratio.  The flavorings can vary.

Any type of ground meat would work for summer sausage.  I chose buffalo meat because it was very lean.

While keeping the meat as cold as possible, I tossed the ground meat into a large mixing bowl with the curing salt and remaining ingredients.  I tripled the amount of peppercorns, using green, pink, and black,

After the mixture was thoroughly incorporated, I formed the meat into logs, double-wrapped them in plastic wrap, and tied the ends with kitchen twine, forming tightly rolled buffalo meat casings.  I wanted the rolls to stay round, so I hung them in the refrigerator to cure.  The hanging step was not neseccary, purely self indulgent, and very challenging.  Home refrigertaors  are not constructed for hanging meat. I had to rig the rolls onto Michael's soft drink container-section of the refrigerator door, letting them dangle over the jams, jellies, chipotle pepper, and mayonaise containers.  The rolls bobbed and swayed every time the door was opened, but they stayed round.

I let the sausages cure overnight before unwrapping them, positioning them on a rack over a baking pan, and sliding them into a low 200 degree oven to cook for two hours, turning them over once.

After slow roasting for two hours, the buffalo meat transformed into glistening red gorgeous summer sausage rolls.  I was surprised, amazed, and a wee bit pleased with myself.

I let the sausage rolls cool to room temperature before sliding them back into the refrigerator to finish curing for 24 hours. Very easy.

The next morning, I sliced the chilled  sausages and served them with crackers, Buffalo Trace bourbon-tinged stone ground mustard, and Boursin cheese.

Although I tripled the amount of peppercorns, the sausage meat wasn't overly spicy. Along with the mustard seeds they added texture and bite to the firm cured meat.  Paired with  crackers, cheese, and mustard, the buffalo summer sausages were fantastic. A revelation, even.

I can't wait to make them again.  I'll keep the important salt/meat ratio, but change up the ingredients. 

 The sky's the limit.

No comments: