The focus of our farm is vegetables and some small fruit, but we do have a little livestock on the farm including pigs, chickens and occasionally turkeys or geese. The decision to keep some livestock seems to be a good fit with the farm as the animals will eat any unmarketable vegetables and kitchen scraps that the farm generates...they even devour most of the weeds that we have to pull. I am always a bit uneasy about the fate of the animals, more so the pigs than the chickens, but I do eat meat and at least this way I know the animals had a comfortable life, were well cared for and were fed well. And to be honest, it just doesn't feel like a farm without a few animals around as they add a rhythm to the farm day and year that would otherwise be absent.
Although we have raised pigs for the last few years, we hadn't found time for sausage making until this year. I spent a summer working on a farm in Italy and knew the wondrous delicacies that could be made from the ever versatile pork; salumi, proscuiuto, pancetta, pepperonis, and fresh sausage in dozens of varieties. I did try to make prosciutto last year, but we lack the proper conditions for the final stage of curing, so it got a little shall we say... funky. So this year under the guidance of Jennifer Pazienza, we made the plunge into the less intrepid world of sausage making.
So with two large boxes of the less desirable cuts and a bit of already ground pork Michelle and I set course for Jenn and Gerry's place. Along the way the way we picked up two enthusiastic helpers, Andi and Sylvia. Andi is a former student, now friend, and enthusiast off all things gardens and food. She happened to be home from San Franscio where she now lives. Sylvia and I have been friends for a long time since we were students together at Renaissance College. She is one of our loyal weekly veggie box customers and a great fan of the farm. It was a nice way to catch up with both of them and two more pleasant helpers could not be found I am sure.
Sylvia and Andi deboning and trimming pork
Gerry grinding the pork.
After arrival, Sylvia, Andi and I deboned and trimmed all of the pork and we started putting it through the meat grinder. When we had our first batch of ground pork ready, Jennifer and Michelle started blending spices into the meat. First they used a mild but savoury fennel sausage recipe that is part of Jenn's Italian heritage and is often featured in her delicious cooking. That recipe includes a bit of pancetta, essentially an unsmoked Italian bacon, that also went through the grinder. Next came a similar batch but without the pancetta. We followed with another half dozen batches including some breakfast style sausages with sage, nutmeg and a little pepper. The final batch was seasoned with some rosemary from the farm and thyme. We didn't try stuffing the sausage into casings this year and just made the mixture into patties which we like just as well in most cases. We find we often take the meat out of the casing anyway when cooking. Next time we will do some in casings for summer barbeques.
Michelle making patties
The whole process took a few hours and culminated in a nice stack of sausage for the freezer..and a beautiful meal prepared by Jenn that featured a large skillet of the sausage sauteed and roasted with onions and coloured bell peppers. Yummy!
Chef Jennifer at work