|Simmering sausages allows the spices to shine. Frying and grilling|
literally burns them away.
Yes, you can make your own sausages. All you need is ground meat and some small Ziploc freezer bags. And, I guarantee you, they will taste better than anything you purchased pre-packaged or frozen. (More Ziploc sausage recipes can be found here: Kitchen Bounty: sausages.
With Easter just a short memory behind us, lamb is still abundant, particularly ground lamb. And it's pretty reasonably priced, too. One pound will yield four sausages. Don't be afraid to experiment with your spices. Lamb loves spices. Since the sausages are simmered and not fried or grilled, the cheese stays intact instead of melting away.
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 heaping tablespoon freshly minced rosemary, needles only, no stems (stems can puncture the plastic bag when forming the sausage)
- 1 heaping teaspoon minced or pressed garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon minced parsely
- 1/2 teaspoon (scant) dried thyme flakes
- 4 sun-dried tomato halves, soaked in hot water, drained and chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons Feta cheese crumbles
- Zest from 1/2 lemon
- Pinch or two of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water (scant)
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. To test, take a small teaspoon of the meat and microwave for about 15 seconds. Taste. Re-season if necessary, paying close attention to salt.
If possible, refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to mix, or for a few hours.
Place 1/2 cup meat mixture inside a Ziploc freezer bag. Form into a sausage shape by sliding the meat down into bag with the edge of your hand. Expel air and seal carefully. Roll. At this point they may be frozen for future use.
Fill a large pot of water 3/4 full and bring to a boil. Reduce to a slow, slow simmer. Place sausages into water trying not to allow the top of the bag to sink into the water. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Remove sausages from pot and allow to sit for about five minutes. The fat will rise to the top of the bag. Removes sausages. If you'd like to serve them with their natural juices, carefully make a small cut in the corner of the bag and drain the juices.
- Use name-brand, pint-sized plastic bags. Generic are usually thinner and the corners leak so you will lose the poaching liquid inside the bag resulting in a very dry sausage. Name-brand, such as Ziploc, do not contain BPA, a harmful chemical.
- Use less, not more, of each spice if in doubt. You can always add more later on. Keep a notepad nearby to record what you add.
- I actually prefer dried spices and herbs, but prefer fresh garlic that is smashed into a paste. Use fresh cheese, not canned/powdered which can dry the sausage.
- After mixing, place a good teaspoonful on a plate and microwave for about 30 seconds or until no pink remains in center. Taste. Adjust seasonings accordingly.
- The ideal sausage mixture is 70/30. Pre-ground pork is 80/20, but it's okay. If you have a friendly butcher, he will be more than happy to grind some fresh suet for you. You can also add ground bacon. Allow it to partially freeze, cut into chunks and grind in your food processor. But remember it will alter the taste of your sausage.
- As the sausages poach, they will shrink. Sometimes the bag will, too.
- Be sure to add the water to your mix. This adds moisture and helps to incorporate the spices.
- If possible, refrigerate your mixture for several hours or overnight before forming into sausages.
- These freeze beautifully. I allow mine to thaw before poaching.
- If you want, carefully remove sausages a bit before they are done and brown in a bit of butter/olive oil.
- Smoked paprika adds great smoky taste to homemade sausages.
- Because they are lower in fat than regular sausages, condiments work well with Ziploc sausages.
- If your sausage mixture ends up too strong in spicy flavors, form into patties and fry. Frying reduces the strong tastes.
- Here's a great site for sausage recipes and even supplies: Len Poli's Sausage Making - Homemade Sausage Formulations and Recipes