Bratwurst

Why on earth would you make your own sausages? Teutonic souls will known; there simply isn’t a decent sausage to be had in this city. Some are okay, but none are the real thing we remember from our pre-covid travelling days. What we are making today is a fried sausage. It has no preservatives in it, is quite easy to make, freezes very well and is unbelievably delicious. Believe me. I am going to try and figure out how to make thins without pork, so that all our non-porky friends can try this triumph of the German butcher’s ingenuity .

  • 500g pork shoulder, finely minced
  • 500g pork belly, skin off, medium minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml cold milk
  • 20g plain salt
  • 4g black pepper
  • 1g anis seeds (replace with cumin seeds if you can’t find this)
  • 2g cumin seeds
  • 2g nutmeg
  • 500g caul fat (net fat) to wrap the sausages in (optional, but recommended)

As it is easier to mince a larger quantity of meat, we will first mince and then split the quantities into two. Mince the shoulder through the fine die and keep it separate. Now mince the belly through the medium die.

Shoulder going through the fine blade.

Put the cumin, anis seeds and black pepper corns into a mortar and crush to a medium fine powder. It should not have bits in it that will be hard to bite, but it really does not need to be super fine. Grate the nutmeg into your spice mix. Most of the time, I will toast my spices first, but in this instance, I don’t find it to be necessary.

Put the minced shoulder into the bowl of your mixer, attach the blade, add the eggs and all the spices and mix at low speed until it lightens and turns into more of a paste. Increase the speed to 2 and slowly add the cold milk. Once it is all nicely incorporated and looks slightly more gluey, add the minced pork belly and mix well. Fill this off into a big disposable piping bag and chill for a couple of hours. his is not strictly necessary, but the firmer mince will make piping  a good shape easier.

A word about the piping bag. You can buy these either online, or in any good baking shop. cutting the right sized opening is not always easy, so I use an idiot proof way of getting it right. I want my bratwurst to be 2.5cm in diameter, so I use the handle of my whisk as a template. Stuff handle into the bag, mark bag with a small cut, remove whisk and cut bag. Perfect 2.5cm sausages will happen.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pipe a sausage the whole length of this tray, then pinch the end of the bag to finish the sausage. Pipe as many as you can get onto your tray without the things touching. You should have lengths of about 16 to 14 inches, 32 to 36cm, which will be too long to fit into your pan. Use a pair of scissors to cut each length in half, then freeze the sausages. They will be easier to handle for the next step.

Buying natural sheep casings is not easy here in Malaysia and I don’t really like the collagen ones, so I use caul fat to make my sausages. It’s a bit troublesome, but I find it quite fun to work with. You do however need to find a butcher willing to supply it to you. It’s a pork product, so don’t ask your halal butcher! You can actually skip this step entirely And just fry the sausages without casing. You will still get a pretty tasty meal, but I do recommend making the extra effort.

Here’s what you do when the butcher hands you a packet of what looks like a blob of fat. Take it home, gently pull the layers of fat apart and lay them on a large board, or washable surface. Salt them all over, then fold them up and put them into a bowl. Repeat with all the different pieces. If you notice any pieces that are too torn or too thick to use, chuck them into a bowl. You can render lard out of it or throw it away, which would be a shame. Leave the salted caul to stand for fifteen minutes, then fill the bowl with water and move the caul around without disturbing it too much, or your layers will be harder to separate later on. Wash two or three times, until the water runs clear, then empty the bowl and press down to get rid of as much water as you can. You may find it easier to get the caul sheets apart if they are in the water. Whatever works for you is fine, but you should try and pat the caul dry before you wrap the sausage.

Now all of that is done, pull out one caul sheet, lay it flat on your surface, place a frozen sausage on top and roll the caul around it twice, cut off the excess on each side, about 1.5cm-2cm from the end. You don’t need to tie this, it will melt into shape when you fry the sausages. Once all sausages are wrapped in caul, you can freeze them. They should not really have defrosted, if you are fast enough. If not, take them out of the freezer one or two at a time.

Although it looks like some of the sausage is not covered in fat, the caul has a transparent membrane that will hold everything perfectly in place.

I put a piece of parchment paper in between the sausages before I freeze them, so they don’t stock together and I can take out as many as I need at the time. Plan two sausages a head if it’s a main course. Time to fry! Take your sausages out of the freezer two to three hours before you fry them and just leave them at ambient temperature. Heat a large frying pan. Add 1-2 tablespoons of lard or oil and once it’s nice and hot, add your sausages. Turn them every three minutes until they are nice and golden on all sides, then turn the heat down to medium and continue to fry until they are bouncy to the touch. They are almost impossible to over-fry, so err on the side of safety and don’t serve raw sausages.

Note how the caul fat starts to quickly melt away, but still keeps the sausage meat neatly contained within it. Quite brilliant, I think. I am going to post a whole load more sausage recipes, some of which you will need a wine chiller to make at home…

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