"Snag on the barbie," anyone? Or sausage on the barbecue grill? The delicious translation comes from Down Under, where barbecue season is now over since it's winter. The offer is extended to America by 62-year-old Aussie Robert Spike Sr. who just recently introduced here his do-it-yourself sausage making kit, he calls the Home Sausage Kitchen.
What's a kit for, when you can make the links by just grinding the meat with your food processor and using a simple funnel or pastry bag to stuff the casings? The grinding is easy and results are terrific particularly when you use the processor's on and off pulse button. But pushing that mixture into the funnel is another story, a long and tedious one at that.
Sausages Like Balloons
Robert Spike's invention of a pistol-shaped mechanism that injects the forcemeat into a casing makes for a smoother operation. And less air bubbles, the culprit in sausage-making that make the sausages swell like balloons. It's no less like a cookie gun that presses out the dough with a triggering motion. After 4,000 pounds of meat and bags and bags of seasoning ingredients, a fat dog that wolfed down his string of beefy failures in a span of five years, the retired engineer's toy was born. And with it were developed formulas for seasoning combinations and emulsifiers that he bagged as mixers as well as innovative recipes that he compiled into a beautifully illustrated color cookbook.
It wasn't just his great love for this universally acclaimed food that drove Spike to create this handy tool. He craved for sausages with tastes that pleased him. He wanted to have total control of the salt, fat and every element that's thrown into the mixture. He wanted people to design their own 'snags' using pork, veal, poultry, shrimp, fish, beef or a combination of any of these plus either his preservative-free and low-salt mixers or their own creative flavorings.
With the sausage gun, you can also have control of the length of the sausage, Spike said and added that he likes to have very long links that don't require too much work on the grill. "That way there's only several to turn, not several dozen," he says, "and so allows time for me to concentrate on my beer."
An overnight success Down Under, the inventor's pride and joy had also been awarded a bronze medal at the International Patents Symposium in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986. Out of 6,000 new inventions, it was judged third-best in the world at the event.
Made of sturdy white and red plastic material, the tube has a stainless steel plunger that's triggered by a lever to push the meat out into a casing. You may use a store-bought natural or synthetic casing or the easy to use collagen casing provided in the kit, which is made from 100% edible, odorless beef protein.
The basic kit priced at $29.95 includes the sausage gun, two plastic nozzles of varying thickness, a 35-foot supply of collagen casings, a spiral bound instruction and recipe book, a basic sausage seasoning mixer and small meat grinder. Priced at $69.95, a gourmet version adds the full range of six mix blends, seasonings and collagen casings.
Each emulsifier-mix blend will make about 10 or 12 pounds of sausage. Try varieties like the Traditional English for beef sausages for all types, the Breakfast Banquet pork, Early German for bratwurst and other Continental sausage, and the Italian Affair for pepperoni or salami. Samples of seasoning blends include Country Mint, which is great for lamb or turkey, Hot and Spicy for chorizos, and for a Southeast-Asian flair, there's Satay.
Spike's creativity in developing sausage sensations is expressed in his cookbook that features recipes like duck and pork sausage with hoisin sauce and Sherry, Normandy veal sausage that uses chives and would you believe Camembert. And for poultry lovers there's a recipe for chicken and artichoke frankfurters.
For more ideas on how to make your own sausage at home, refer to a wonderful new book called "The Savory Sausage," by Linda Merinoff (Simon & Schuster Inc.: $18.95). The author, who is a writer for Food and Wine magazine, gives a comprehensive collection of sausage recipes around the world including delicious sounding recipes for using the sausages. Extremely helpful are her tips for assembling the sausages and how to fry, grill, poach, bake, smoke and preserve sausages. To make your reading enjoyable, the author gives you a global tour of international sausages, sharing origins and culture from each participating country.
The Home Sausage Kitchen can be ordered by calling the International Food King office in Los Angeles (a Sydney-based subsidiary): 1-800-637-7322. Cost will range from $29.95 to $69.95 plus postage and handling.