Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grappa and sausage making: la sagra della salsiccia* (3)

So, there are six of us gathered at the country house ready to make sausages.  Humanely-raised heritage breed pork? Check. Fennel, salt, chili, pepper, red wine, pistachio, coriander, nutmeg, rosemary, garlic? Check. Grinder? Check. Lamb intestines for the sausage casings?  Er, check.

We were all just a little intimidated by the sausage casing, as well as unsure what to do with them. My sausage book gave instructions for casings packed in salt, whereas this wasn't. It sat, resembling a piece of cod speared with plastic.

We put it into a bowl of lemon water and fortified ourselves with a caffe correto, which is a shot of espresso 'corrected' with a shot of grappa.  Our grappa, sourced by Maria's Zio Dino, had the additional romance of being home-made somewhere in a Melbourne backyard.

Special sausage making tip: your sausage making event will be significantly enhanced by adding grappa to the proceedings.

Maria and Stuart had also brought some grappa that they had created from Zio Dino's flavoured with sultanas. I'm not normally much of a grappa girl, it's a little mouth puckering for me, but I really liked this. The sultanas added a sweet roundness.

Maria and Stuart got the recipe for their grappa from a great book called Preserving the Italian Way, by Peter Demaio, an Italian living in Melbourne. It's his quest to preserve authentic Italian preserving techniques. Demaio, who is obviously a character, says, "Essentially any fruit can be preserved in grappa. The basic principle is to pickle the fruit or berries in the grappa and then to pickle yourself with it when you drink it."

Here is his recipe for grapes in grappa:
Wash 1kg of sultana or muscat grapes. Place in a glass jar, add a piece of vanilla, a piece of cinnamon, the skin of one lemon and cover with grappa. Seal and leave one month.

I have digressed a long way from making sausages, but grappa will do that to you.  Newly fortified the courage was plucked to tackle the casings.  I'll get back on topic with actually stuffing them next post.

*A sagra is an Italian festival. Salsiccia are pork sausages.

You can read the other posts about our sagra, here and here.