thai sausages + potato buns

thai sausages + potato buns

I love these sausages so much. Thai food is my absolutely favorite and these sausages are so fresh and reminiscent of Thai curry. I have been fascinated by sausage making for a few years now. My first couple attempts in a restaurant kitchen were disastrous, so I put that topic back on the shelf for a good while. I read more on the process and was able to observe those who were competent at it in action and from there, things started to blossom. For my last birthday, I asked for a sausage press (my mom snagged this one for me from amazon very affordably) and I was ready to give it another shot. Since then, I've made many, many batches and though the process can be time consuming, I find great satisfaction in creating something like this from start to finish. However, if you feel that making sausage this way is too complicated, I've got some short cuts along the way so keep reading! 

Let's get into some of the equipment needed first. We obviously need some kind grinder for the process. I've got the kitchenaid grinder attachment and since I'm rarely ever making larger than a 5 pound batch this works fine for me. If you don't want to invest in separate grinder/stuffers, there are many meat grinders that also come with stuffing attachments. If you don't want to invest in a grinder, you can ask your butcher (nicely) to grind pork butt and fat together for you. If you give them notice, usually they are happy to do this for you. We're going to be using pork butt (this is actually from the shoulder of the pig guys, not the butt), and grinding in some additional fat in the form of pork fat back. If you're in Texas, I will say I have a hell of a time trying to find pork fat back and I've resorted to substituting beef kidney fat which also works fine. You will also need some kind of casing whether it be synthetic or natural. Given the choice, I will always elect to use natural hog casings. You can find them packed in salt in some well-stocked butcher shops or you can buy them on amazon like I do. Now, you do not have to actually stuff this sausage if you don't want to invest in any of the equipment. You can get your pre-ground pork and simply mix it with the flavorful thai curry paste that we'll make and shape them into patties and serve them like sausage burgers instead. Seriously, this will still be incredibly delicious. If you elect to go this route, DO NOT ADD CURING SALT TO YOUR MEAT. This is only if you plan to case your sausages and let them cure for a day or two. If you want to just make patties, follow the recipe but omit the pink salt. Simple as that. 

Speaking of pink salt, let's talk about that a little too. Pink curing salt, also sometimes referred to as prague powder, is a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium nitrite. Though it is used to cure meat, it is not present in finished, cured meats in a high enough dosage to cause issues. This makes it entirely safe for the curing process. Pink curing salt is ultimately used to cure meat, meaning that it makes it so that the botulinum toxin cannot produce. Once known as sausage disease or sausage poisoning, botulism was derived from “botulus,” the Latin word for sausage. In short, clostridium botulinum is a bacterium that is present in soil and water. The spores of the bacteria can become airborne and land on food where, under the right conditions, can reproduce. When it reproduces, it creates the toxins known as botulinums, which cause botulism, a food-borne illness that is rare but extremely severe.Pink curing salt helps stop the bacteria in its tracks, preventing reproduction and the growth of the toxin. Nitrites prevent the growth of anaerobic bacteria. Long story short, curing salt helps protect your cured foods from growing bacteria. However, curing salt is toxic when simply consumed without the meat curing process and should never be used in place of regular table salt. Curing salt is divided into two categories, #1 and #2. Curing salt #2 is only to be used for curing meats over an extended period of time, like salamis. Curing salt #1 is used in meats that will be only cured for a short period of time, such as these sausages. Do not confuse the two because they are not interchangeable. 

The rest of the ingredients are pretty straight forward and most can be picked up at your local asian market. The milk powder isn't necessary, but it is helpful as an emulsifier that helps enhance flavor in the sausages while keeping water and fat suspended so they don't run out of the sausages when cooked, helping the sausages to retain moisture. If you are grinding your own meat, I like to cut the pork into roughly 3/4" cubes so they can pass through the machine easily. I keep the grind nice and course because that's the texture I prefer, but after grinding I throw the meat in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the milk powder, and allow it to mix for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until everything is well mixed. The stuffing part is relatively easy. Since casings come packed in salt, the first thing you'll want to do is rinse the casings in the sink under cold water. I do this right before I'm about to use them and I keep them in a container filled with cold water before I use them so that they don't try out. I don't have a video tutorial for the stuffing portion (yet), but this is a great one that will help guide you through the process. Now, this is the very important part. Once your casings have been stuffed and portioned into links, they have to remain uncovered in the fridge for 1-2 days. This allows the casing to dry out and cure a bit. If you were to throw your links right on the grill after stuffing, the casings would completely disintegrate. Trust me, I've done it. Knowing that the process of sausage making takes a couple of days, I like to break the work up. I'll grind my sausage meat on a wednesday, let it sit overnight, stuff on Thursday and let the sausages cure until Saturday when I fire up the grill. This time, I poached the sausages in a mixture of coconut milk and water before grilling, similar to beer poaching brats and I thought it was fantastic. Totally an optional step, but it made the sausages smell and taste even more like thai curry. 

I know this seems like a lot of work, but in my opinion it's always worth it. The benefit of doing these things at home is the ability to really control what goes into your food. Getting your pork from a reputable neighborhood butcher is going to be far superior to grabbing meat at the grocery store. And after all this work, it's worth it to not cut corners. I dressed these sausages up like I might dress up a banh mi sandwich and they were DELICIOUS. I made some homemade potato rolls that are great for housing any sausages or hot dogs, but feel free to just grab your favorites from the store. Good luck!

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THAI SAUSAGE RECIPE:
makes 12-15 sausages

3.5 lbs pork butt (shoulder), cut into 3/4" cubes and kept cold
11 oz pork fat back or beef kidney fat, diced and kept cold
28g sea salt
7g curing salt #1

Thai paste
natural hog casings, rinsed and soaked in cool water

THAI PASTE:
1/4 c curry paste (I prefer Mae Ploy brand, and I used the panang curry paste)
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 stalks lemongrass, dry outer leaves removed and chopped
3 thai chilies, stem removed
6 cloves peeled garlic
1 shallot, peeled
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems, chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon ground Turmeric
50g dehydrated milk powder

1 can Coconut milk, for poaching, optional
3 cups water, for poaching, optional

Spicy mayo, recipe below
Green papaya salad, recipe below
Buns, recipe below

Grind peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds together in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Place the curry paste, lime leaves, lemongrass, thai chilies. garlic, shallot, cilantro, ginger, fish sauce, ground spices and turmeric in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a smooth paste forms. Toss paste with cubed pork, fat, salt and curing salt. Grind pork through a course plate. Once ground, add ground meat and milk powder to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Alternately, mix by hand until meat looks furry and feels sticky. Cook off a small test piece to taste for seasonings. 

Stuff meat into 35mm natural hog casings that have been rinsed and soaked in cool water. Tie off ends of sausage and twist to form links about 6 inches in length. Chill uncovered in the fridge for 1-2 days, flipping sausages halfway through. Cut links between sausages. Heat coconut milk and water in a large sauce pot and bring to a light simmer. Poach sausages for 3-4 minutes and then transfer to the grill to finish cooking. Serve with spicy mayo with green papaya salad on a toasted bun. Enjoy!

SPICY MAYO RECIPE:
makes 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 Tablespoons sriracha

GREEN PAPAYA SALAD:

1 green papaya, peeled and shredded
1 cup shredded carrots
1 serrano, sliced thinly
2 persian cucumbers, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only
2 sprigs mint, leaves only
1 bunch green onions, sliced, green parts only
2 teaspoons sugar
juice of 4 limes
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use. 

POTATO BUNS RECIPE:
makes 14-16 buns

450g water, between 80-90 degrees
20g sugar
15g yeast
50g milk powder
2 eggs
50g instant potato flakes
625g bread flour
113g butter, diced, cold
20g salt

1 egg
50g milk

Mix together water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy. Add milk and eggs and mix on low. In a separate bowl mix together flour, potato and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to yeast mixture while mixing on medium-low. Add cubes of butter in a couple at a time until all are added and mix for 10 minutes on medium speed until dough is smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 2 hours in a warm area. Punch dough down and place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Portion dough into 85-90g pieces. Shape into a hot dog shape and place on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. I like to take my pieces and press them into a rectangle shape and then roll them up to achieve the hot dog shape and pinch the seams together afterwards. I also place them about an inch or so apart so that they'll bake together and have those soft edges. Loosely cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 more hour. Mix together egg and milk and brush the tops of the buns. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a baking rack. Enjoy!
 

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