We love sausages, but only good ones, so we went on a one-day workshop to find out more about pig-keeping (not that we’re thinking about it) and sausage making.
The workshop was held at Huntstile Organic Farm in Somerset, which I wrote about a few weeks ago (and you can read about it here) as we sampled their award-winning breakfast.
We started the day with coffees and pastries whilst meeting the other sausage fans and Martin, our sausage-expert for the day. He keeps his own pigs and makes his own sausages and bacon at Greenway Farm.
We went through the basics of keeping pigs. I’ve always talked about how the provenance of food is of great importance to me, so this was really interesting; from what to feed pigs and how it affects the flavour of the pork, the various rare breeds of pigs and how they are processed from farm to farm and eventually to the abattoir. I certainly won’t be trying any butchery, but it was interesting to learn where the various cuts of meat come from on the pig and what is best for making sausages – the shoulder by the way.
Martin showed us how to make a turkey and pork sausage, and then a few strings of chipolatas before we were let loose, but prior to that we were served a delicious lunch of chicken in a creamy sauce with potatoes and salads followed by baked cheesecake and coffee.
Straight after lunch, we got to work in our pairs. Martin had brought the meat ready to use from his farm, it was very coarsely minced meat from a Tamworth crossed with a Large Black and was mainly the shoulder with a bit of leg to make up the weight. By the way, fat is very important in sausages, so don’t scrimp on it by using a lean cut – the sausages won’t taste anywhere near as good.
To the mince we added rusk (because this soaks up the water you add), seasoning (we added dried apple, sage, onion, salt and pepper) and water. The only way to go about the mixing is to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, adding the water towards the end.
After this, we put it all into a big press ready to put into the skins (intestine skin which form the outer casing of the sausage), the intestine is a bit stinky, and fiddly to get onto the equipment, but we got there in the end and whilst one of us turned the crank, the other ensured the meat fed steadily into the skin.
At that stage we had one very long sausage, so we needed to squeeze the meat to make a bit of space to twist the skin to make individual sausages. Once we’d made the sausages, they were hung on hooks to dry out a little before packing them. Obviously we gave ours a special name of Thompson Somerset Sausages.
Our sausage making workshop cost £50 each and we got to take home a pack of sausages each and then buy any further sausages we wanted for family and friends – we stocked up well.
P.s One - of many - really useful bits of information I got on this workshop is that you shouldn’t prick sausages before or whilst cooking – something I am definitely guilty of. Think of a sausage like a boil-in-the-bag type thing, you want to keep all the flavours inside.