Rusty and I have known each other since school days. During a college break a mutual friend invited us both to a party stating (I’ll never forget it), I think you’d make great partners in crime. The rest is history. A long, crazy history, but hey, it's our history. So after many decades together you’d think that we could manage something as easy as preparing a meal together without getting snippy. Think again. Actually, I never get snippy. Right. Someone recently dubbed me chirpy. Believe me, it wasn’t intended as a compliment.
October is National Pork Month. Seriously. It’s also National Pizza Month. Come on, folks. Pick a food, or at least a food group. It’s also National Apple, Caramel, Cookie, Pasta, Pretzel, and Seafood Month. So, by God, let's set off to make some cookies with caramel, and a pork sausage pizza . . . and that's just for starters, right, my pet?
There are two things that you don’t want to see being made: sausage and legislation. Otto von Bismark is oft credited with this quote; and I don’t know about legislation (okay, I actually do), but I surely know about sausage. Remember my first attempt at brätwurst? I foolishly failed to request ground meat from the butcher, foolishly believing that the ol’ Kitchen Aid could and would do all the work. Silly me. Big mistake. I felt as if I was field-dressing a hog.
But for National Pork Month and National Pizza Month Rusty wanted to be involved. After all, he's the pizza-maker extraordinare (he truly is); and the man needed sausage. This time Rusty and I chose ground pork from our local butcher. Eduardo is always very accommodating and will provide us with any cut from any animal (carneceria Eduardo, not liquor-store Eduardo). So some poor porker gave its life so that I could have the best pizza in Costa Rica.
Now having ground pork doesn’t mean that you won’t grind again your pork. Grind you will . . . several times.
So let’s make this sausage tale relatively short and sweet (I’ll post the recipe on another page): we cheated! We purchased dried sausage casings. They come packed in kosher salt, which seems ironic to me since they are undoubtedly the inside of a pig. Perhaps the casings are the inside of a cow, but I suspect pig based on their diameter; and don't pretend that you don't understand that little anatomy image. Anyway, I’ve never been inside a pig or a cow, but I have been to the outdoor butcher area of the market in little Pô. A butcher area where one walks that fine line of too fresh. Do I need to say it? The casings smell. And you know what they smell like . . . so you soak them in water, and rinse, and rinse, and rinse.
Now the rinsing phase actually becomes fun once the smell subsides and the casing expands with water. I could say that it looks like one long condom, but it doesn’t. It looks like the intestine of a mammal. Let’s just leave it at that . . . and if you can't leave it at that, enlarge the photos. I will say that this was so much fun I couldn't stop myself from filling and refilling that casing. I felt like a balloon-animal artist.
This effort at sausage making, in which Rusty was present to help, was intended to create a delicious pork Italian sausage, however . . . . good God, this man can fling porky juice and particles all over a home. It is astounding to me that one can work with something as toxic as raw pork and yet be so cavalier about what touches the dead beast . . . and about what kitchen items (not to mention your wife’s face!) become splattered with pig. Were the work area a kitchen in the U.S., I’d be a bit concerned. But in Costa Rica, the pork splatter/spillage is a freak-out worthy of getting snippy . . . by both spouses.
So who is going to hold the casings while the sausage is extruded from the Kitchen Aid, and who is going to feed the sausage mixture into the Kitchen Aid? Well, I know my husband (yes, darling, I do), and I just know that my casing-filling ability will be criticized; so Rusty gets that task while I feed meat into the extruder-thing, which is a technical term used by we ol' seasoned sausage makers. But wait. It's get's worse. When I verbalized concern about my ability to manage the casings to Rusty’s satisfaction, the man had the audacity to say, I don’t know what your problem is? My problem, sweetie, is that you’ve used the words my problem!
End of tale: I finished the project alone. Yes, Rusty tied off each little sausage; but the bleaching-o’-the-home was managed by me. And the Italian sausage pizza? Outstanding. Absolutely fabulous.
Cynthia, National Angel Food Cake Day is October 10. Get ready. Lo que hay.