Social media is a very good thing. The ability to communicate with people you’d never otherwise get to speak to through blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. is great. It’s also great to be exposed to a wide variety of different of different opinions. Aoafoodie reminded me of this when he expressed his passionate dislike of chipolatas via Twitter. Much as I disagree, I’m very grateful as it gave me the impetus and the excuse to make some!
I’ve been wanting to try a recipe using sheep casings for a while now. These are the thinner and more delicate brothers to regular hog casings and make a sausage that, when cooked, gives you a greater proportion of unctuous, gooey outer to meaty inner than regular bangers. Precisely the reason I love them.
I wanted to make a fairly unadorned sausage that wouldn’t be too challenging for breakfast time. Highly spiced sausages are great but they can be a bit much first thing in the morning. My breakfast chipolatas have a bit of sage and thyme for herbiness and a few good twists of black pepper for a gentle kick. The recipe is below.
Jon’s Breakfast Chipolatas
600g pork shoulder
120g belly pork
1 onion, grated or finely chopped.
5g celery salt
7g black pepper
Water, to bind.
Sheep casings – about 12 feet.
First, soak your casings in exactly the same way as you would with hog casings. A couple of hours in clean fresh water will remove most of the salt.
Next, de-rind and chop the pork shoulder and belly into cubes large enough to fit through the mincer, and put them in the freezer for 20 minutes or so to chill. You don’t want it completely frozen but the firmer it is, the easier it will mince.
While this is chilling, weigh and combine the salt, pepper and spices and set aside. Remove your meat and fat from the freezer, and fit the mincer with a medium grinding plate. Slowly feed the chilled pork and fat through until it’s all thoroughly minced. You want a slightly finer mince than I would normally use for sausages as this will make it easier to stuff the delicate casings.
Transfer the mince to a clean surface or large mixing bowl and add your onion, breadcrumbs, and spice mix and mix by hand until combined thoroughly, adding water as necessary to form a smooth mixture. It’s important to blend the spices thoroughly because you don’t want to end up playing Russian roulette with a load of bland sausages and one really peppery one.
Fry off a little bit of your mixture to taste for seasoning. Add more spices as necessary and set aside in the fridge or freezer to rest for 20 minutes or so.
Remove the sheep casings from their soaking water and rinse them thoroughly inside and out. Next take your smallest stuffing tube and grease it lightly before carefully sliding the casing on. Sheep casings are the avantis of the sausage skin world, so you need to treat them with care. Attach the stuffing tube to your mincer or stuffer and slowly feed the meat mixture through until it reaches the end of the tube. Take the skin and tie the end off, pricking with a sterile pin if necessary to let any excess air escape.
Slowly feed the meat mixer through the mincer until you have used all of your meat and have a long coil of sausage in front of you. It’s particularly important not to overfill the casings as you don’t want them to split. If you do tear them (I did) don’t worry, just set aside and keep going.
Remove the leftover casings from the tube and very carefully twist into links of 6″ or so alternating between twisting clockwise and anticlockwise to ensure the sausages don’t become unravelled. Tie off the other end of your casings and your sausages are done. It makes sense to leave them for 24 hours to let the flavours develop if you can wait that long but if you have to eat them immediately, I understand.
These chipolatas are another classic British style sausage that are great at breakfast time, in a sandwich or as a winter’s dinner served with buttered swede, kale. and onion gravy.