Nose To The Grindstone

This month’s Charcutepalooza project was grinding sausage. As luck would have it, that announcement came just a few days after I had ground and stuffed a whole bunch: some for hanging, and some for eating fresh. This post deals with one of many subsequent meals featuring the fresh sausages.

The mix was pretty straightforward Italian. I’ve made a variety of sausages and pâtés before, including crépinettes, but had never stuffed them into casings. The cured salami are ready, and we’ve been enjoying the hell out of them, but I’ll get to them in the next post. The fresh ones were almost as good, and I have a pork butt and more casings on hand to replace them since this meal just about took care of the last couple.

This couldn’t have been simpler, and in contrast to the brunch in the previous post was super-local across the board. The asparagus is coming up fast, so it’s an excellent place to begin the thinking about dinner on any given day. I made a simple pasta dough and let it rest in the fridge while I went out to pick asparagus and cut some ramp leaves from one of the patches near the garage. The pasta had a quick crank into fettucine, and I cut the sausages into smallish pieces and browned them well, deglazing the pan with an ice cube of beef demi-glace. I added the chopped asparagus and ramps to brighten, saving the asparagus tips until just before serving.

Once the pasta pot was at a rolling boil, I seasoned the sauce with salt, pepper, and a splash of maple-sumac vinegar and dumped the noodles in the water to cook. As soon as they were done, I scooped them out into the other pan and tossed them with the sausage sauce, dropping in a knob of butter to coat it all, and served it up. There’s not much more to say but that it was very good, especially with a little salad of sprouts and thinnings from the garden on the side dressed with a nice sharp mustardy vinaigrette made with the homemade red wine vinegar. Homemade sausage is deeply satisfying; every time I make something new at home that equals or exceeds store-bought products in quality, I understand more clearly that pure pleasure is what the neo-peasant tip is all about (though there are ancillary benefits, which I’ll go into in the salami post as soon as I’ve gotten this painting into shape).

As an added bonus, almost everything in the whole meal came from within the county, though the enthusiastic blizzard of parmigiano on top definitely did not.

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Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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