July’s charcutepalooza challenge was to make blended sausages. So the challenge was really everything we had done before (grind, and stuff) but also create the perfect texture by emulsifying the meat and fat. In the case of the bratwurst, this is easy to do because you are also adding eggs and milk. It is a bit trickier with the hot dogs.
I originally wanted to make mortadella for this challenge, but I did not order the bung in time. If you don’t know what the bung is, let’s just leave it at that. So I decided to go with bratwurst and hot dogs instead. I went to get casings at Wagshal’s, I’m so lucky to live only blocks away. They carry an amazing selection of meats and house made products. Their butcher, Pam, gave me a sample of their amazing no casing-kosher hot dogs to try, and made me promise to bring her one of the ones I made. Talk about pressure!
I started by making the bratwurst. White pepper, ginger, and nutmeg are used to season the pork shoulder. This was easy and straightforward. And they were delicious.
Then I started to make the hot dogs. I was surprised at how easy it was to grind beef (as compared to pork). Then I got to the point where I had to put the ground mixture in the food processor to emulsify. Our bible, Charcuterie, states: “if your food processor is not strong enough to do this much meat, simply puree in two batches.” I took this as a warning and decided to puree mine in three batches just to make sure I did not kill the motor in my processor. Wanna know what happened? Just as I finished my third batch, smoke started coming out of the back of the processor. And it stopped working. It was dead.
But hey! At least I managed to finish my third batch. I just had to chill it and stuff it. After doing that, I inserted my digital food thermometer into one of the hot dogs, and set it to alert me once the internal temperature reached 140°F. I put all the hot dogs in my stove top smoker, and walked away. Thirty minutes later I realized that I had not heard the thermometer go off. That is because it had shut itself off, I’m assuming because the batteries were dead. My hotdogs were over cooked, and all the great fat from the short rib meat that I had used in making the hot dogs was pooled in the bottom tray of the smoker. Defeated, I tasted one. The meat was dry, and the casing was rubbery. To console myself, I cooked Wagshal’s hot dog that Pam had given me: it was juicy and plump, and delicious.
I then took my (failed) hot dogs and (delicious) bratwurst to my friend’s 4th of July party. We used the fat from the hot dogs to make béchamel sauce for mac & cheese, and crumbled some hot dogs into it as well. We wrapped the rest of the hot dogs in puff pastry to make dogs in a blanket. We removed the casing because it had turned rubbery and chewy.
The bratwurst we simply served sliced with some homemade sour cherry mustard.This was everyone’s favorite!
If you are asking yourself whether I kept my promise to Pam, the answer is no. I could not possibly give her one of my over smoked, over cooked hot dogs. I’m hoping I will get to make them again once I get a new food processor and new batteries for my thermometer, and then bring Pam a decent hot dog. Also, my bung has arrived, so mortadella may be in my future.
If you don’t get around to making your own sausages, buy some really good ones, and serve them with this homemade mustard. It is to die for. I didn’t have dry tart cherries, so I substituted them with some of my homemade sour cherry jam.
Sour Cherry Mustard
Adapted from Charcuterie
2 tablespoons dry mustard
3 large egg yolks
½ cup cranberry juice
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of sour cherry jam (or 3 tablespoons dry tart cherries + 1 extra tablespoon of brown sugar)
Mix together all the ingredients, except the cherry jam. Cook over a double boiler, whisking constantly until thickened and smooth. About 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the sour cherry jam, and refrigerate until ready to use.