Mr. Charlton Throws a Sausage Party

Sausage. People have been stuffing meat into tubes since human beings were scientifically classified as human beings. It’s the artful method of preserving the meat and blood of an animal with salt, encasing it in the intestine of the same animal. Making sausage predates agriculture, which makes it one of the oldest foods people have prepared. Put it this way, sausage is older than bread, the mighty staff of life. Who knew?

If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you’ll notice that I’ve thrown a ton of pictures up featuring the sausages I’ve been making at home. Since roughly the end of August, I’ve made a least six different batches of sausages, ranging from Bratwurst to Chorizo. It’s caught the eye of a couple of people, and they want to know how I go about making it.

Let’s rewind the clock back to Christmas of last year. It was the first year I spent away from my family, and I was up at a ski resort with Kat and her family. Being the wonderful people they are, her family surprised me with gifts. One of the gifts was a meat grinder and sausage stuffer for my stand mixer. This was both awesome and daunting because I’ve always, always wanted to make sausage, but had no clue how to go about assembling cased meat.

The grinder / stuffer sat on the shelf for eight months. It wasn’t until Kat bought me some sausage casings for my birthday that I finally got the nerve to make sausage. I didn’t know anything about the casings themselves, so I did some quick research after sticking them in the freezer. I made some coffee, sat down at the computer, fired the old beast up, waited the ten minutes until I could actually use it, then peppered some hog casing questions into Google. First big note on sausage casings was at the top of the list;

***DO NOT FREEZE THE CASINGS***

So I spat out my coffee, and pulled the casings out of the freezer. A little more research told me they could be stored in the fridge, in a salt brine. They were completely covered in salt themselves, so I submerged them into some water and started to pull them apart. I found out pretty quickly that natural sausage casings are pig intestines. After a good ten minutes of playing with hog entrails, I needed some answers from Kat regarding the casings.

“Hey, Kit-Kat, I know this isn’t exactly a polite question to ask in regards to birthday gifts, but how much did you spend on the casings?”

She seemed a little perturbed by the question. Naturally.

“They were a lot more than I thought they’d be.”

“Yeah, ok, that kind of makes sense. You got me a lot of casings.”

“I did?”

I was still hands deep in digestive guts. “Yeah, there’s only one little label on the package, and it says 30 x 36.”

She finally walked up and came over to the bowl of casings, as I rinsed my hands. She leaned up against the counter. “That’s all the butcher handed to me when I asked for sausage casings. I asked him for casings, he asked me if I wanted natural or synthetic casings. I went with natural. Are those the casings right here?”

“Yep.” I walked back to the bowl. “I think that label, the 30 x 36, is the number of casings times the length of each casing.”

Kat cocked an eyebrow. “What are you saying?”

I looked down at the bowl. “I’m saying we have over a thousand feet of pig intestines in our house.”

Because of this, I’ve been making sausage like mad. I don’t want to waste these casings, and even though they’ll be good for another couple of months, no problem, I still want to hustle and get them used up. Every weekend, I get myself a large cut of meat, grind it up, then stuff it into a sausage casing. This weekend was no exception.

Now, I was going to list a recipe here on how I go about making sausage, but I thought I might tell the story of why Mr. Charlton’s been going hog wild on the frankfurters. I made sausages yesterday and I’ll be making sausages tomorrow. The only question that remains is… What kind of sausages should I tackle tomorrow? Should I do a Caribbean jerk sausage? Maple bacon? If you fine and lovely people have any suggestions, let me know and I’ll try and make it happen.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I did a chicken sausage yesterday, flavored with a Garam Masala spice I put together. It’s the biggity bomb, people.

Tasty, Tasty Lab Meat

Meat grown in a lab is something that scientists have been working on for a long time, and rightly so. Meat is expensive, taking up a huge amount of resources including time, energy and land. Factory meat is typically a terrible place for the animals themselves, usually corralled into small cages, fed poor diets, and treated poorly. There’s a number of videos that show people just how cruelly some of the animals are treated. Chickens with beaks cut off, cows being beaten, that sort of thing. Videos like these have changed millions of peoples minds, including a number of famous celebrities like musician Paul McCartney, director James Cameron, and actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

Not only is meat expensive, there’s some health issues as well. Cattle are fed hormones to make them grow fatter, pigs are fed a steady diet of antibiotics to prevent them from falling ill, and chickens are given Prozac to deal with the existential issue of being a chicken. Not only that, but you have to remember that meat comes from animals, and animals defecate on a regular basis. Although current practices tend to keep most of the shit off of your burger, you have to keep in mind that if you’ve eaten a steak or a drumstick, then you’ve definitely ingested some poop at one time or another.

There’s only one problem though; meat is really, really delicious. I mean, it’s amazing. Meat is simply a treat to prepare. Due to its protein cellular structure, it reacts much differently than grains, fruits, roots or vegetables. You can’t roast a potato the same way you can roast a roast. And this is coming from a guy who loves potatoes. You cant slow cook broccoli in a smoker for several hours. Vegans and vegetarians have the luxury of their choice because of the knowledge we have gained as a species in regards to plant diets. Hundreds of years ago, if you wanted to survive, you’d need meat protein.

Right now though, our meat consumption is not sustainable, and the world is demanding more of it. What if you could grow meat the way you grow vegetables? What if, under certain conditions, you could grow a lamb shank or a pork shoulder? Would that change the game, and would we be able to eat as much meat as we’d like without having to pen cattle and coup chickens up in cages?

Many vegans and vegetarians aren’t forgoing meat because they don’t enjoy it or they have certain dietary restrictions. They’re choosing to skip the steak because they feel bad for the animals. If the meat is grown in a lab, then no animal is actually harmed. In this light, lab grown meat could be considered ‘vegan meat’, and not that tofurkey nonsense. This would actually be meat without any cruelty or hormones or farm factory practices. If meat is grown in a lab, then you can control every aspect of it. You could control its fat content, whether it was more like beef or veal. In the future, you could have a mixture of meat grown to your specifications, like chickenfish, or quailmutton. The possibilities are endless.

Well, a group of people at Memphis Meats are working on those sort of things as we speak. They are growing meat, and it actually tastes like meat. They’re using animal cells to create meatballs  It’s better for the environment, it’s better for people, and you can certainly better for the animals. Synthetic meat is certainly something we’ll all be hearing about in the near future.

Would you eat it though? For a lot of people, even the idea of meat grown in a petri dish is a turn off. Would people become snobbier about food than they already are? Would restaurant advertise that they serve animal meat instead of lab meat? But what if you couldn’t tell the difference? Would a black market form, an secret underground meat market, where high powered cartels test meat the same way they cocaine?

What will happen to the farm lands of the world? A monstrous portion of our land is devoted to the production of meat, whether directly, or the vast amount of grains they consume. Not only would farms that dealt in livestock be affected, but the huge amount of land that would suddenly become unnecessary. Just as driverless cars are coming and will change the way we use transportation, synthetic meat is coming and it will absolutely change not only our diets, but our farmlands as well.

Would I eat meat grown in a lab? You can certainly bet I would. I’ve eaten plenty of weird things, and I plan on eating more weird things. There’s only one caveat; meat should be prepared to order, and this man likes his steaks rare as the dickens.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton.

p.s. I once had a can of silkworm larvae once, I brought to a party. No one, including myself, could actually eat one. They smelled absolutely nasty.

Silkworms.jpg

This was a horrible idea.