Au revoir Josette

Our original inspiration to gather, cook and learn from each other, came from our French friend Josette. At a young 85 years of age, she left for milder weather and sea level altitude on the east coast. We made promises to meet again in the spring 2012.

We got together this past week to celebrate our bratwurst and sauerkraut creations and to say farewell to Josette.

We sampled the bratwurst and sauerkraut. The taste test results were as follows:

Two members found the bratwurst to not be fatty enough and too mild. My husband who has eaten his fair share of brats in his life thought they were just right.

Two members’ sauerkraut results were foul, two turned out fabulous and two members found that they were not fans of sauerkraut anyway! I canned my sauerkraut yielding four quarts from four cabbages.

The homemade pretzels and mustard were a hit (see post of October 31,2011). We had a scrumptious apple strudel for dessert  and of course lots of beer and wine.

Cheers to Autumn and to the end of another cooking endeavor. Au Revoir Josette! Until we meet again.

Oktoberfest 2011- Bratwurst


The Fearless Cooking Club’s Oktoberfest adventure Part II was the making of the sausages.

I have to admit that I was pretty scared at stuffing meat so I had to do my research.

First I read two blogs from The Paupered Chef website on making Wisconsin bratwurst  and how to stuff sausages. The pictures were great for step by step directions.

I found that there are three steps to making sausage: the casings, meat preparation and seasoning, and stuffing the sausages.


Now out there in the world are hog casings and synthetic casings.  A friend’s spouse, who has butchered wild game in his basement, told me that he only liked the collagen casings. He said he always had trouble with the hog casings breaking. Then I talked to two butchers who stuff and sell sausages and only use hog casings.  Hog casings are stored in a salted water solution. When you are ready to use them you must soak them in water. Pliability of the casings is the key. 

Hog casing are cheap and any butcher will sell them to you by the foot. Casings come in different forms but all are not edible so do your research if hog casings make your skin crawl.  I started with three feet of hog casings soaked in water for 30 minutes. Then I knotted the end and put about a teaspoon of water in the end before slipping it onto the sausage stuffer. Again, it’s all about pliability.

Joy had an attachment for a meat grinder and sausage stuffer for her KitchenAid mixer. Lucky for her she got all the attachments at a yard sale for about $5 or $10. Otherwise you could buy them online at the KitchenAid website.

Next the casings have to be slipped onto the sausage stuffer (pictured below). It’s  like rolling up hosiery before putting them over your feet.

The picture above was the second batch of sausage stuffing. As you can see it was air tight and it blew out air instead of sausages. A little phallic eh?

Meat preparation and seasoning.

The actual making of the sausage was the easy part.

4 lbs of pork shoulder

4 TBSP seasoning  (1TBS per one pound of ground pork)

I had the butcher de-bone the pork shoulder at the market. I’m sure if I didn’t have a meat grinder at home, he would’ve ground it for me at the market as well.

Seasoning  the sausage varies to specific tastes. In the Pauperchef Chef blog, mentioned above, had a traditional Wisconsin bratwurst seasoning.  Penzeys Spices, also a Wisconsin-based company, came out with a Bratwurst seasoning this year that I also tried. So we made 2 lbs with the homemade seasoning and 2 lbs with the Penzey’s bratwurst seasoning

Stuffing the sausages.

Now comes the fun! We figured out the casings, the pork is ground and seasoned and now it’s time to stuff!

Key points on stuffing the sausages:

1.WEAR GLOVES. Slippery endeavor.

2. Figure out the length of your sausages, then twist. When you get to the next sausage length then twist the opposite way. The second batch was funny because the lengths were all different.

3. Do this with a least two people, one to run the machine and one to twist the sausages.

Four pounds of pork yielded 15 sausages.

The Fearless Cooking Club is getting together at the end of October to eat our bratwurst with our homemade sauerkraut (please see the 9/18/2011 blog post). My sauerkraut is currently five weeks into the fermentation process. I am hoping to can it this weekend.

Auf  wiedersehen! Froher Oktober!