Now that my kids are in their teen years and the empty nest is in sight, I get a little nostalgic for the days when they were young and the times seemed more simple and their needs seemed less daunting. I think back over the years when they were little and to the toys that seemed most memorable to them, and to me, and it reminds me that regardless of how fast the world around us moves, some things remain the same and will always do so. I remember the Christmas I got my son and his cousins a tool tray and filled it with rope, a hammer, a flashlight. some bungee cords and a few nails. After the fray of opening all the gifts, the first thing the boys grabbed and took outside was that tray full of items ready for creative use. Made me feel proud as a dad and uncle.

Cooking owns this same kind of simplicity for me. Start with a few ingredients, add some creativity, go to work and admire the outcome.

I am fortunate to have found a supply of good raw ingredients with which to begin, like this big farm chicken from Sanders Farm in Valparaiso, NE

Or the two hogs I buy from TD Niche Pork in Elk Creek, NE. Here is 178 pounds of raw Berkshire pork ready to be butchered for its various uses.

It takes about 3 hours to break everything down, to trim and pack it up for my cooks and I to use in kitchen. My job is make sure everyone has what they need to do their job; shoulder for sandwiches, bellies for bacon, fat and trim for sausages. Below is a batch ready to be turned into coppa, a spicy stuffed cured meat that will need to hang and dry for a few weeks. Here is the tube in its “green” form, that is, as it is assembled and full of moisture. As it drys, it will lose a significant amount of weight, and this weight loss is one way to determine the progress of the aging process.

In my moments of nostalgia, stuffing sausage reminds me of mashing out shapes of Play-Doh with my kids. Drop different colors into the molder and push the plunger, and out comes a funky new design that can be anything from a snake to a make believe red and blue striped hot dog for Barbie to eat. The main difference is that you can actually eat the snake or hot dog.
But the ultimate end of all my cooking is the plate, placed before the customer for enjoyment. Here we did Pork Two Ways, combining a spare rib with a pork sausage and simple mashed potatoes.

Charcutepalooza – Stuffing Sausage

One thought on “Charcutepalooza – Stuffing Sausage

  • June 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Pork two ways – inspired! I'll be making that one myself before too long!

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