Tuesday, 13 September 2011

In search of perfection:-Bangers

Ahh Sausages. I like the good old banger, in fact I like it better than some pure meat sossies. Heston Blumenthal had a look at Bangers (& mash) in his perfection series, and the banger needs filler. These are pork, some spices a little rusk & toast water. Like all HB recipes there were lows & highs. Most of the issues with this one were due to having an ordinary kitchen, with a fullish fridge & freezer.

First off make toast, but make it in the oven, at gas mark 4 for 30 minutes or so. Whilst that's happening fire up the BBQ, you are about to char pork back fat over smoking woodchips. This was my first arghhh moment, my wood chips were a bit too wet and smothered the charcoal, still a blow torch rescued that.
Once  the fat starts to go things get quite exciting in the BBQ. Gloves & eye protection are recommended as a lot of hot fat spits around. Once its all charred, blistered (and smelling awesome) take it off the heat & pop it in the fridge to cool. Also in there will be a large bowl of water & toast, oh and the pork mince. Cold is quite a vital part of banger making, the fat & meat (and spices & filler) need to emulsify, let it get too warm & it'll split. Blitz the charred fat and it looks pretty unpleasant.
Chill down the bowl & blade on your food processor & blitz the mince in batches, it needs to be smooth & not to rise above 10c. I have a tiny food processor, so this & the next stage were quite hard work and could be an area of improvement for my next batch. The meat and food processor bits go back in the freezer to get everything down to close to 0c, whilst you blend the spices, rusk, golden syrup  and toast water
   That gets to chill too. Then you blitz all the bits, fat, spicy toast water & meat again in small batches keeping a check that they never get above 10c, whilst that's going on let the sausage casings soak (put the now sausage meat back in the fridge to chill)
   Then its time to stuff your sausages. If you can get help with this part do. 2 pairs of hands make it pretty easy. Having spent a few hours getting to this point, surrounded by lumps of fat, piles of meat & collections of spices I was pleasantly surprised to see sausages magically emerging from the combination, mincer, pasta maker sausage stuffer machine.

  To enjoy them to the full Heston recommends poaching at 65c for 320 minutes & then frying, I couldn't wait I had to try the sausages.

  Well worth it.

Yes its fiddly & a bit of a pain, no its probably not hugely economic to make small batches (we got about 15 bangers) but your own home made sausage is a pretty awesome thing. I've got casing left, so I might have a stab a Lincolnshire style next. Unless that is you know where I can get some hippopotamus.

Monday, 5 September 2011

(Blue) Rose Vodka

I grow roses, I concentrate on "blue" ones due to limited space. Queen of the violets is an old double rose with a deep perfume & a good strong purplish colour, ideal for making scented/flavoured vodka.

The Vodka quickly leaches the colour from the rose, but it ends up a light golden/yellow colour rather than a stronger pink .

I just put a bloom or 2 in vodka, with out any sugar (though 25g/500ml is reckoned to be a good amount) and let it stand for a few days to let the flavour develop properly. Once that was done I strained & bottled.

But why stop with 1 single variety of rose vodka ? Twice in a blue moon seems to be having a late summer/early autumn flush  and whilst being closer to a hybrid tea rose than the bourbon/old fashioned roses it still has a very strong perfume. So it was out with the secateurs and a few snips had a couple of those blooms in a bottle.

Tasting both is interesting, whilst they are both obviously rose flavoured they are quite different. The Queen of the violets vodka is heavy & very rosy. The Blue moon on the other hand is a bit more delicate and has definite vanilla notes. Now all I need to do is find a cocktail for it. It'll work in my Turkish delight drink, but there must be other uses though...