Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken of the Sea: The June Sausage

So we're supposed to make a poultry sausage for theCharcuterie Challenge for June.  But I have a problem with that.  First, I don't have any chicken - duck or turkey or goose, etc. - on me, so I'd have to purchase some special for the challenge.  I'm sure that would be delightful and delicious, but I think part of the point of charcuterie is that it's meant to be frugal, too.  NOT CHEAP, but, you know, thrifty.  Make use of what you've got. Second, I must say I find myself eating less and less poultry because I have an ever ready supply of pork on hand, as well as a seasonal subscription to Core Sound Seafood,  a community supported fishery here in the Triangle.  Every week, we get a few pounds of extra fresh seafood food from Down East Carteret County on the Crystal Coast.  It's fantastic, but often enough I'm the only one in my house that really wants seafood that often, so we end up with a few pounds of perfect freshly frozen fish in the freezer every few months. 
Which brings us to sausage!  Pardon the substitution, but I've decided to turn my poultry sausage into a seafood sausage.  Here's how I've done it:

This is the fish I had on hand today.  On the right hand side of the plate is about a pound of pink snapper that I trimmed and boned.  Then the lemon for some juice - mot much, but a nice touch.  Then, a pound of shrimp that I shelled - the most drudgery associated with the job.  An egg for a bit of binding- largely unnecessary, I'd add, given the quantity of shrimp I had on hand.  Next to the egg is the best part - some Spanish Mackerel that I had cured and smoked last week.  It was so perfectly seasoned - paprika, salt, brown sugar - and full of smoky depth that I felt no need to season the sausage further.
Above the plate is a half pound of crab - fresh this week.  And then a bit of yogurt to use for smoothing out the mixture as needed.

I ground up the snapper and mackerel, and about two thirds of the shrimp.  The rest of the shrimp I chopped fine to add into the sausage mixture by hand, along with all of the crab.  This gives the sausage some garnish, and a bit of texture.

Here's how it looks once the sausage is ground, the shrimp and crab garnish are blended in, along with several tablespoons of fresh cilantro that I had on hand.  I hasten to add that I kept all of the ingredients on ice- literally in the freezer - before and after they were ground together. Do NOT forget to do that!!

Now for the tricky part. Again, I don't have a meat grinder - thought about getting one, but haven't pulled the trigger yet - and wouldn't buy a separate sausage stuffer, when it will just come with the meat grinder once I break down and get one.  Instead, I have this canvas piping bag fitted with a wide nozzle. I slid some hog casings over the nozzle, and turned out this: 
Not the easiest job in the world, but I persevered, and managed to turn out a very attractive batch.

Here they are! I also took the scrap that didn't make it into casing and rolled it up in some plastic wrap in for a more free form, skin-less sausage. Call it a quenelle.
Once the sausages were made, I poached them very gently for five minutes, just to stabilize them.  Fresh fish is so perishable that I wanted to do this before I stored them.  

And here's the batch, fully poached and ready for grilling, sautéeing, broiling, or freezing. I'm going to do some of each.
I took the quenelle, sliced it thickly, and sautéed it in a bit of olive oil. Some mustard remoulade on a piece of toast, and it's lunch. I am not too humble to assert that this is the best fish sausage I have ever eaten.  REALLY good!  The smoked mackerel does the trick, and the texture of the shrimp makes it really taste sausagey. It's seasoned, but not so salty that you're begging for a beer.  But, man, it would be good with a beer... 


  1. I have never heard of fish sausage. This looks lovely, especially the bit on the toast.

  2. It is incredibly good. You can do the same with perch and white fish from Lake Michigan- no need for a nearby ocean (though the shrimp is really nice)

  3. mmm... mouth watering... makes me wish I had an ish wish dish with which to wish for fish.

  4. AWESOME! There's much to be said for perseverance....