Yes, that’s right. Seafood! In sausage form! Is there no end to the sausage madness?
We decided to make a batch of Lobster, Shrimp and Leek Sausage (from Charcuterie) to serve as part of the appetizer segments of both Christmas Eve and Christmas. Not a ton of it, because we didn’t know how it would be. But enough for everyone to taste.
And so everyone could say “Wow! I’ve never had lobster sausage before!”
We live for praise. We live to inspire.
Oh my that sounded…horrid. Be glad you don’t know us personally. You’d get a headache from rolling your eyes.
Anyway, we are discovering, in our Great Sausage Making Adventure, that making sausage is relatively easy and it’s fun. And cool, because you end up with sausage.
The other thing we are discovering is that we’re not totally hugely fans of emulsified sausages. Or partially emulsified, as this one is. Like Alex’s dislike of mashed potatoes, it’s a texture thing.
But I digress.
To make this sausage, we first had to cook some lobster. You only need a cup of lobster meat, and for that all you really need is a single pound-and-a-quarter lobster. But I bought two. Because lobster is yummy.
Bill and I each picked the meat out of a lobster and in case you were curious, we sort of raced through it. And Bill won. He was very surprised – normally I’ve plowed through a whole lobster (every nook and cranny of the body sections, my friends) before anyone else has finished a claw. But this time around he was faster.
I told him it was because we weren’t actually EATING the meat right then, so there was no incentive for me to hurry.
We kept the claw and tail meat for later uses (an omelet for Bill one morning, lobster salad for me), and just used the little bits from the bodies and those skinny legs.
So there’s the lobster part.
Then there’s the shrimp and leek parts.
First you have to chop and blanch and cool the leeks. You need about a third of a cup, which isn’t much. That’s okay – I was very happy to have leftover leek around.
You also need to thaw (if they’re frozen) and peel the shrimp.
RAW shrimp, by the way.
Okay, now you take the shrimp and the chopped leek and puree them. Then add to that a large egg white, a cup and a half of heavy cream, salt, white pepper, and assorted seasonings. We didn’t go with what was in the book here. We used a bit of dried basil, a bit of fresh (still alive despite the cold) chives, some roasted garlic puree (a smidge) and the tomalley from the lobsters. You mix all that together and, at the end, fold in the lobster. Then chill it until your wife gets home so she can be part of the stuffing.
Oh, and you need casings. The recipe calls for sheeps’ casings, which are thinner (think breakfast sausage), but we didn’t have any, so we used the regular hog casings. We figured we’d just make shorter sausages. And in the end that didn’t matter, because after we browned them (right before serving) we sliced them into bite-sized pieces anyway.
But I’m jumping ahead.
At first we thought this would be similar to the boudin blanc we made a couple weeks ago (I haven’t written about that yet. I’m going backwards in time.) – that we’d just pour the filling into the casings.
But this mixture if thicker than the completely emulsified boudin blanc mixture, so we put the funnel away and took out our buddy, Universal Sausage Stuffer #4, or whatever it’s called.
And speaking of much easier…
When stuffing the filling through the Universal Sausage Stuffer, you get to a point (toward the end) when you’ve still got filling inside, but the round thing that presses the filling through can’t go any farther because the thing tapers down where it meets the tubes that you thread the casings onto.
(Oh, every English teacher I’ve ever had just had chest pains because of that sentence structure.)
Anyway, in the past we’ve put crumpled newspaper in a ziploc bag and used that to follow the last of the meat. Very icky, and not always reliable.
This time around Bill came up with a better idea.
It worked SO well we are now including clementines as part of our sausage-making equipment.
Anyway, we filled the sausage casings with delightful ease, and when it came time to remove the clementine-in-a-bag, we discovered – to our great joy – that there was hardly any of the filling mixture left in the stuffer. YAY! Less mess! Less waste!
OH – and before we did all this stuffing, we tested a bit of the filling, just to see how it tasted. For the test sausage, instead of using some of the casing, you just put a little blob of the filling in some plastic wrap, twist it closed, and poach as you would the sausages in the casing. (See below for that how-to.) Pretty cool, huh?
It was pretty damn tasty. The only issue we had was the amount of salt called for in the recipe. Too much. Probably best, because saltwater seafood CAN be salty, especially any sort of shellfish, to use a minimal amount of salt at the start, poach a little bit to taste, and then add more salt if needed.
After the little test sausage, we poached the stuffed sausages. We’ve learned (and we’re still getting the hang of this) that if you are poaching sausage you don’t want to fill the casings too full. They burst. Not pretty. So when you fill the casings, you want them to be thinner than usual, so as they poach (and expand slightly), they have room to grow.
To poach – you bring a pot of water to 170 F and hold it there while the sausages hang out in their warm bath. of 130, which doesn’t take long, but you stThese seafood sausages need to warm to an internal temperature ill need to be patient. In order to check the temperature, you insert the thermometer probe at the end of the sausage, near where it’s twisted. The casing is looser there and your poking is less likely to make the whole casing rip (trust me on this).
We planned to serve the lobster sausage with a little sauce of some kind (since mustard didn’t seem appropriate), so I figured I’d make something that would help balance out any excess saltiness.
A friend had stopped by later that day while we were prepping for the next two days of feasting (or maybe it was on Saturday, the first day of the feasting? I have lost track.) And we gave her a sample of the cut of meat we use for our fajitas, and a sample of the lobster sausage. Both met with great approval. Yay!
For a sauce, I just made a little roux, added a splash of white wine, some lemon juice, some cream, some basil (to pick up the basil in the sausage), a bit of black pepper…I think that was it. Very simple, very nice, worked well with the lobster. (Actually, it worked well on crackers, too, after we ate all the sausage.)
And to serve the sausage, we just browned the links in butter – yes, butter, because what goes better with lobster? – and then I sliced it into bite-sized pieces, on the bias, to make them look fancy.
People were intrigued and we had none left.
Texture wise, it’s not Bill’s favorite. He likes more to chew, and though the puree firms up when poached, it still lacks that meatiness that really says “sausage,” at least to Bill. I think I enjoyed it more than he did.
We may try it again, though, and Bill wants to increase the amount of lobster in the next batch. You know, to make it more meaty.
I’m thinking, also, of other types of seafood sausage…maybe something similar to this, only with mussels or oysters instead of lobster? Mussels, with their bright orangy-yellow color, would be rather pretty.
Oh, it will be fun to experiment!