Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category



Black Bear - Spring Bear Hunt

Don’t think I wasn’t apprehensive about tackling this one. When the prospect of bear hunting for From The Wild first came up, I scoffed. I’m now firmly on the opposite side of that fence. Rationale: Spring bear is not in fact fatty at all, which many claim is what makes it ‘gross’. Bear meat is far from ‘gross’, and in fact is more delicately flavoured than moose or elk. The bear in the photo and the others we saw are feeding heavily on the first grasses of the season. Bears are omnivores, like pigs, and I’m fine ethically with eating a pig. My backyard hens are omnivores too for that matter. Bears are a managed species in Alberta and hunters aren’t chomping at the bit because 1] they’re gross to eat (false) and 2] it’s illegal to abandon the hide so it’s a commitment to get it processed afterwards. Sadly, it would have been fully legal for us to harvest this bear, skin it, and walk with the hide leaving the carcass for the scavengers. Instead, we’re putting it to marvellously good use. I’m now on a mission to wake others up to the fact that black bear indeed should have a place in our culinary repertoire, especially if we’re going to claim that we know the foods of the place that we live. Expect more posts about bear, and I welcome any challenges about the ethics around its culinary use. For those of you who are going to see me at Host Edmonton – bear is on the menu. Full episode is still in edit.


Why I Need an Annual ‘Charcuterie Day’


Charcuterie Day - Sausage and Bacon It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that an annual ‘Charcuterie Day‘ marathon immediately following the annual ‘Pig Day‘ is in my future for a long, long time. Here’s why.


Beyond bacon [reason alone], I’m not concerned with the possibility of trichinosis in my extremely high quality bush-raised-and-handled-by-me pork and skipping right past freezing and into to curing and dry curing. Purists prefer this approach to frozen meats. I’m happy to have it an outcome of pragmatism. Having spent a few hours breaking down the pig, I have fresh in the brain a host of ideas for the delicious possibilities in front of me, and can save myself the following steps: bagging, butcher paper wrapping, hauling to freezer, energy required for freezing, taking it out to defrost, throwing out of packaging, handling of post-freeze sloppy wet meat [fresh is nicer to work with]. I also avoid the possibility of neglecting a cut deep in my freezer, and the worry of having to inventory it to figure out whether that is the case or not.

So I spent a relaxed 8 hour day putting it all up. Both entire sides of the pig went into various forms of bacon – some plain, some spiced with chili, white pepper [deep gratitude to John at Oyama Sausage for the hook-up], and fennel before getting hot smoked. No more ‘when are you going to make bacon again?’ from the family for this guy. It’s done. I also put up the 2 pig faces into guanciale, and a kilo or so of back fat into lardo. In this year’s case, I’d just shot a deer a week prior, so taking fresh deer trim and making 15lbs or so of best-I’ve-ever-made sausage with fresh pig belly seemed sensible. Salted a whole back leg for its long fate of air drying.

I acknowledge that it’s super handy to have cold storage that is my cellar setup to handle the volume of meats so that they’re not consuming my entire fridge. If that was required though, it’d be worth the bother. A big change for me is that I to finally caved on my ‘no energy input‘ purism about my wine/cider/charcuterie cellar and actually put a heater and humidifier in there to create the conditions necessary for dry curing. I’m going to say though [read: justify to myself] that the energy my humidifier and heater consume are a saw-off for the freezer energy, time, and packaging I won’t use for the dry cured items. So while I used to have a 2-3 month natural window [Jun-Aug] of optimal temp and humidity in my 6x6x8′ dry curing chamber, I’ll now have it rolling year round.  Gearing it up is a bit challenging as substantially all of what others have done and shared online relates to the constraints of a repurposed fridge. Still trying to figure out the best way to tweak out my space. A happy problem.

A reason NOT to do a ‘Charcuterie Day’ immediately post ‘Pig day’? It’s a busy time of year typically, and there are many another food thing to tend to. I’m over that one. Or perhaps you don’t have your own ‘Pig Day‘ to follow up. That, my friends, unless you have a religious/cultural justification, needs to be rectified.

Charcuterie Day - Venison Sausage

Episode 50 – Pork Butchery Workshop V1.0


Jeff Senger of Sangudo Custom Meats

If only 2002 Kevin knew this was coming in 2012. 10 years ago I lived in a condo, fondling my tattered copy of ‘Charcuterie’, longing for an opportunity to get my hands on a whole hog to do even just a few of the myriad of possible delicious preparations pork offered – many of which you can do at home but money can’t otherwise buy. But I had no space to do it. I had nobody to show me the way. I’d never met a pork farmer who I could ask to hook me up. In the spring of 2008, I had moved into our current home, and the previous winters’ pent up porcine desires meant its garage was pre-destined to witness many a pig butchering. 4 years on, many sides and porkventures later, and after a few pints of beer with Jeff Senger tossing around the idea, here we are putting on a pig butchery workshop. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no master at breaking down a side – but mastery was not the objective here. Instead my hope was to give folks that were in a position I recall all too well a crack at breaking the ice. To give them a shot at seeing pig go from live on the hoof to wrapped and packed in the freezer, largely by their own hand. Pig Butchery 101, down and dirty.

Huge thanks to Jeff Senger and Allan Suddaby for putting their heart into it and sharing their expertise throughout the day. An equally huge thanks to those who came, who took the leap. I think it was a day all involved will remember for a long, long time. And yes, we’re talking about maybe doing more. Maybe even a beef butchery workshop. Maybe.

Sub-Zero Fresh Pork Sausage Making


Coincidentally, when Allan called me about his blood glut problem, I already had pork from the recent pig-butchering on deck – slated for Rhulman’s ‘Master Pork Sausage’. Truth is, I had purchased a new meat grinder from Halford’s and I wanted to give it a go really badly. So the morning before making all that blood sausage, I was at home making this.

Two notable pieces here for me. First was timing and location. I woke up to -3C, and rather than fuss with chilling everything throughout the process, I decided to simply do it all outside in the natural walk-in freezer that living up north provides at this time of year. Other than my hands being slightly painfully cold, I was pleased at how cold everything was throughout the process – an important element to proper sausage making not just for health safety but for texture. Having decided this was to be my location of choice for many months of the year, I christened my outdoor patio table with screw holes to mount my sausage stuffer. Making sausage in the frost is a treat, and darn sensible.

The second notable piece: recipe evolution. I’m a big fan of ‘Charcuterie‘, but generally have found the garlic amounts to be way too forceful for my palate and nose. This batch I reduced it by half. Half. That’s a significant change. And know what? It still makes my freezer stink when wrapped and packed in there. I still find it garlicky. Which begged the question of whether or not I even want garlic in my fresh sausage.  We just put leek and onion in the blood sausage – and I quite prefer that allium approach to garlic, not just in sausage, but in my day-to-day cooking. There are leeks in my garden that need to be used up. This initial doubt then begged whether the book’s recommendation of good red wine in the sausage was a good one – I would not generally pair fresh pork sausage with red wine, so why put it in it? The thought of a big Shiraz in the pork sausage literally makes me think: ‘ew’. I immediately thought: apple wine. Way better pairing imo [as would be most white wines], and introduces a terroir element. I wondered why no fresh herbs [abundant right now, but not once we get snow]. Add to that a slight tone down in salt, and I think I’m onto a recipe that will speak to my family’s palate [and my own], have something to say about time and place with all the flavors having come from our yard in the late fall.

Took more meat out of the freezer – can’t wait to give this theoretically lovely recipe a go.

Blood Sausage


Allan Suddaby called me. He had ordered blood to make some sausage, and rather than getting a bit of blood, he got, well…a lot of blood. A big pail of it. So I offered to help him make sausage. This was our adventure.
[ps. I'm going to hope Allan weighs in either in the comments or on his blog about his thoughts on the process.]

Blood Sausage Fest


I just spent the day with a bucket of blood and good company. Full video action coming soon.

2nd Annual Game Dinner Eve


Last year my dad asked me if I’d be willing to cook a multi-course dinner featuring the different game birds and big game that he and his friends hunt. It was a really memorable party. 7 courses, lots of drinking, and lots of being merry. It far exceeded expectations.

So tonight, we’re hosting the follow up to this event. I like to think of it as a ‘thank you’ to the guys who take me out hunting and keep a seemingly endless supply of game in my kitchen throughout the year. Tonight’s menu:

scandinavian salmon
mousse of maple syrup cured b.c. salmon, smoked with alder, on knäckerbröd, served with akvavit

ham and cheese sandwich
cured and smoked shoulder of wild boar with melted camembert on toasted baguette round

hot and cold duo of game sausage
sautéed goose liver and porcini garlic sausage & cherry smoked moose and elk sausage

calf moose ‘pate & pickle baguette sandwich’
terrine of calf moose with brandied ‘beaumont’ evans cherries and its pickle, on homemade baguette

cambozola calf porterhouse ‘au poivre’
sauté calf moose loin in cambozola cream sauce on potato

chocolate mousse
organic eggs from sunworks farms and bernard callebaut chocolate in all their glory

I hope to post some photos tomorrow. We’ll see if I remember amidst the food prep and drinking…

A memorable food day


I made and smoked sausage today, and am happy with the product for the first time. I’d tried with goose meat prior, and it smelled and looked the part, but tasted awful. This time I blended calf moose, elk, and pork, and it looks, smells, and tastes great. Thank god.

While making the sausage, I couldn’t bring myself to grind up all the calf moose I had out – it was a rather nice cut [top sirloin]. So I cut a couple ‘steaks’, and did them as I normally do in salt, pepper, and butter. Deglazed with a little red wine and reduced. The memorable part though was pairing it with a porcini mushroom risotto. Pam’s idea, not mine. I bought a bunch of dried porcinis at Costco, and hadn’t used them much, but they’ll get used up now. Risotto is underrated. And overpriced in restaurants.

Anyway…the camera came out twice today to take pictures of food. Hopefully I’m together enough to post pictures to accompany this post by tomorrow.

You should thank Gordon Ramsay

I hunted, killed, butchered, cleaned, cured, and confit’d 11 wild ducks. Not 1. Eleven. I pitted and dried a bunch of evans cherries that a friend picked for me. I roasted a sweet potato, days ahead. I ground pork fat and the above mixture. I moistened the mixture with some white wine I made. I stuffed it in hog casing. I made many pounds of sausage from the above ingredients. And I hated it.
It was good in theory. The duck confit and sweet potato is a successful combo, but somewhere along the line, this made the nastiest textured and not so nice flavoured sausage. So I threw it out. I quoted world-famous scottish born chef Gordon Ramsay as I walked to the dumpster. One of his philosophies, if you can call it that, is “don’t let your mistakes leave the kitchen”. Now if I was starving, I’d eat it. But I wouldn’t proudly serve it to guests. And I certainly am not interested in eating many pounds of the brutal stuff on my own. So hopefully I’ll sleep well tonight having thrown away all that work. Amongst the lessons learned: until I have more experience, follow a damn recipe from my charcuterie bible before venturing out boldly on my own. And any of you who eat from my kitchen can thank Gordon Ramsay for not having to partake in my mistakes.

Culinary Accomplishment


My brother in law and I just wrapped up a goose sausage making session. We made roughly 20lbs, about 5 lbs of each of the following:

Garlic Sausage with Sage
Lots of garlic, and dried sage from my garden, with my red wine.

Dried tomatoes from my garden, herbes de provence I brought back from Ile de La Sorgue in Provence, and some pepperoncini I bought in Lucignano d’Asso in Tuscany.

Apple Beer
Apple sauce my mom, David, Pam, and I made from apples Pam and I picked at my dad’s place, Ephémère Apple Beer by Unibroue from Chambly, Quebec.

Foie et Cèpes
Goose liver, goose heart, and dried porcini mushroom.

Fun project. The sounds and vocabulary associated with sausage-making makes for lots of laughs and an all around good time. Will be doing this again, and refining our favorite recipes.