methods & madness… class 15: sausages and such

Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce

Recipes & Ramblings from Chef School

Pork butt… last week we braised it, this week we ground it up. I sure didn’t know how useful pork butt is! This was our first lesson in forcemeat, which is a mixture of ground meat emulsified with fat and various seasonings. The most common forcemeat product is sausage. And that is where our adventure begins.

Savage Sausage

Basic sausage is ground meat (normally pork, veal or beef), fat (up to 30-50%) mixed with salt and spices, then stuffed into casings made from intestines. Casings may also be made from collagen, cellulose, or even plastic.

Sausage and luncheon meats can be sold without casings in tins and jars. Can you say Spam? Yes, that too is made of pork butt or so Hormel says. Maybe you were thinking it’s made of bits even pigs won’t disclose?

Class Assignment

Rona and I were assigned to make Boudin Blanc – a white sausage made of pork without the blood (thank heavens, as neither of us buy into the whole vampire thing). Boudin Noir is made with pig’s blood. Blood when it’s cooked binds ingredients together and turns a hauntingly dark chocolate color. I pass out at the sight of blood, so I was thrilled with the idea of Boudin Blanc.

trimming pork back fat   Sausage mise en place

To start, Rona cut the skin off the pork back fat. I silently cringed as  Rona mumbled something about her Jewish ancestors rolling over in their graves.


We ground the pork butt, chicken and pork back fat together.


Natural sausage casings need to be soaked and flushed with clear water to remove the salt before they can be used. When warmed to room temperature it could be said that they have a “distinctive” odor. Next came the tricky process of attaching the slippery intestines to the stuffing tube. (Don’t go there!)

To check the seasoning, you should fry the meat and taste it. Rona put the a little sausage in the pan, and I do mean a little, we split that as neither of us wanted to eat it.


With our teacher’s blessing, we moved on to stuffing.

Cathy and Rona making sausage

We took turns jamming the meaty mixture though the sausage attachment and into the casings, a slow and trying process. Once the sausage was stuffed, we twisted the meat every 4 inches or so to make the links.

   sautéing sausage

After boiling the links for 20 minutes, sautéing them in butter (for color), we served them with mustard. Ho-hum… the mustard was not to blame.

This photo of Rona says it all.

Rona's feelings about making sausagesmoked-trout

Obviously Rona and I were underwhelmed by this adventure, neither of us will post a recipe for it. I am posting a spaghetti recipe from last week that we both loved. Rona’s blog has a great recipe for smoked trout click here for the recipe.  We also learned about Charcuterie, Paté, and Smoked Fish, which Rona covers in her blog.

Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce
  • 5 ounces butter
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk, peeled and minced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 - 28 ounce can tomatoes, chopped fine, juice reserved
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 spring of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery and onions and sauté until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add ground meat and salt to taste. Cook, crumbling meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add milk and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10-15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 1 hour.
  5. Add thyme and cook another 10 minutes. Just before serving, add basil. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. Cook pasta according to the instructions. Drain, leaving a bit of water in the pasta, and toss with the sauce.
  7. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Serves 8

Quote of the Day

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”
– Otto von Bismarck

“Sausages are like laws, they are better left to people who want to make them.”
– Cathy Arkle
…and then she paused for thought.

Hope you have enjoyed our adventure in the culinary classroom. Join us each week as we continue learning new culinary skills.

You can also read about Rona’s experience on her blog or What’s Cookin online magazine.




4 thoughts on “methods & madness… class 15: sausages and such

  1. Pingback: Baby Got Back…Fat:Charcuterie-Chef School Week 15 – Rona Lewis

  2. Lynne @ CookandBeMerry

    Your sausage looks really good. I wonder what spices you used to flavor it. Ok, I agree, I’d rather eat the Bolognese. I laughed out loud at the “little” sample in the frying pan. I missed it the first time around. You crack me up.

    1. cathyarkle Post author

      We spiced it up with fresh coriander, nutmeg and cloves. In addition to all that fat, we added cream. Can you say Fat Overkill? Glad you enjoyed the story… it is an adventure that I probably won’t repeat.

  3. Pingback: Mediterranean Magic - M'hanncha - Moroccan Snake Pastry | She Paused for Thought

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