There is a famous line in the 1953 film The Cruel Sea where Lieutenant Bennett learns that it's sausages for dinner and exclaims "Snorkers! Good-oh!"
Rob and I are both big fans of Snorkers, Bangers, whatever you call them. Sausages, mashed potato and baked beans are probably one of Rob's favourite meals. I enjoy them too, but I do sometimes have a problem with them... one hint of gristle, one minute unidentifiable bit of chewiness and that's it for me. I can't eat another mouthful. I'm not naive enough to think that your average snorker is made of 'nice' meat. I know they probably contain all kind of 'bits' of animal that I'd rather not think about. But I really don't want to be confronted with potential evidence of this, wondering whether I'm chewing on a piece of ear, trotter, or something much worse...
My solution is now to make my own sausages! When in America last year I purchased a meat grinding and sausage stuffing attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. I also ordered a sausage recipe book and some sausage casings, and was ready to go.
My first attempts last November were, erm, messy. It was a bit like being a participant on The Generation Game, except that there was to be no conveyor-belt of prizes to reward my efforts... just a clogged-up meat grinder, burst casings, and lots of cleaning up to be done. The resulting snorkers were OK, we ate them all, but I knew I could do better.
So yesterday we tried again. 'We' being the key. Yes, sausage-fans, don't try this alone. 4 hands are much much better than 2 when it comes to stuffing sausage casings! I chopped and ground the meat myself, and mixed up the filling (simply mince, breadcrumbs, water and seasoning), but when it comes to getting the mixture inside those collagen casings Rob became an essential part of the process, a job he took very seriously, as you can see.
See the concentration on his face.
You can see a few air bubbles there, but that's OK. You need some space in the casings for when you twist them into individual sausages.
4lb of sausages ready to be twisted. I had to have a nice cup of tea and a sit down before I attempted the next step. I think it was like post-traumatic-stress after my last attempt...
Success! No traumas this time. 4lb of snorkers completed. They are 'resting' in the fridge right now (which softens the casings), but I will bag them up in the freezer for this Summer's barbecues, keeping a few aside to accompany the mash and beans tonight.
I stuck with the 'basic' sausage recipe in the book, but the possibilities for variation are endless. Different meats, different seasonings, different liquid - next time I will try something a bit different.
We fried up a little of the mixture last night to taste, and it's great. I don't know why I was so surprised that they taste like, well, like 'real' sausages. And of course they are 'real' - I know exactly what's in them, much less fat than your average sausage and certainly nothing unpleasant or 'mechanically separated' (mmm, how tempting that sounds in a list of ingredients!). Snorkers to eat with pride!