Pork and fennel sausages

Sausages have been on my 'to cook' list for a while because I was as scared and as squeamish as I was time-poor. They are a two-day process, but the result is rustic and unlike anything you can buy. So, one day I plucked up the courage and wandered into the butcher's shop. I walked around aimlessly, thoughts like 'hmm, are you really sure about this', and 'urgh, all this meat is making me feel sick', spun around and around in my mind. Suddenly, a friendly man poked his head up over the counter and asked if I needed help. I fretted around trying to find my recipe and told him the measurements. He looked at me with great surprise and told me that recipe was all wrong; it'd make 3 times the snags I wanted. "Righto!" said my flustered little self as he went 'out the back' to get the meat I needed. He returned and delivered a demonstration of how to open up the 'hog casing', before charging me $10 for the lot and wishing me good luck. (I must've looked like I needed all of that!)

Having marvelled at my snags for long enough, I give you my top tips for making snags from scratch:
  • Be aware that the casing really will not tear or break as easily as you might think. It's pretty tough - I reckon you could catch a nice fish on that stuff. (If in doubt, test it out!)
  • Ensure that the meat cures in seasonings overnight. It does make a difference.
  • Get in there and do it! Some parts are pretty gross, but these sausages are made of the same, if not better, quality ingredients that go into store-bought sausages. 

I don't know how to explain the satisfaction of making something so commonly consumed, but not-so-commonly homemade. The joy in having those around you enjoy them is super lovely too.

What you'll need:
600g pork shoulder
75g pork back-fat
3 teaspoons salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
75ml dry white wine
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground roughly
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
50g natural pork casing

What to do:
Trim sinew from pork shoulder but leave as much fat as possible. Cut the pork and the fat into 10cm chunks and combine with the salt a pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cut meat into 1cm dice and return to bowl. Add white wine, fennel and garlic and combine. Place meat back into the fridge.

Rinse pork casing in a large bowl of warm water. Find the end, get your fingers in there to open it up and then fill with some water. (It's a bit gross, I know!) Feed water right the way through to rinse out the inside. Send the water through a few more times.

Transfer pork filling to a piping bag that is fitted with a 2cm plain nozzle. Carefully slide as much casing over the nozzle as you can. (You can always chop the casing where needed and feed more over the nozzle when you run out.) Leave enough casing free at the loose end to tie a knot. 

Hold the nozzle and casing, and slowly begin piping. The casing will slide off the nozzle as it fills. Continue to pipe until you reach the end of the casing that you've feed onto the nozzle. Squeeze the pork filling along and together to ensure that the filling is even right along the length. Try to push any air bubbles along to the nearest end. Tie one end of the sausage and, if needed, move the filling downwards to the knotted end of the sausage. It should be filled quite firmly.

Pinch the casing at 15cm intervals and and twist the casing to define each sausage. Alternate the twisting direction each time. You should have some pretty neat snags tied together. Now, tie the other end of the sausage line. Hang sausages over a tray in the fridge, or lay on a tray to dry. Sausages will keep raw for 3 days, but they really only need to be hung up to dry for around 6 hours. Enjoy!