Lately, as some of you know I have been on a fresh meat kick. My Kume got some over salted meat from the processor that we bought the cow from, so the guy made it right and gave him 100 pounds of ground pork. So, like any right thinking Serb would do he decided to make sausage out of 80 lbs of it. Killer. Him and I both have decided of late that we want to learn some of the old customs while the old timers are still able to hold a thought long enough to teach it. And that is not limited to making sausage. We want to learn how to make rekija, suvo meso, wine, the works. This past Saturday marked the beginning of our lessons. We ventured into the great wilderness that is Wisconsin. We suffered many hardships getting there; surly Packer fans still crying over the loss of Brett. Well, that was about it really. Those guys suck so bad. Anyway. We went to the house of an uncle of Kums wife, Slobi. Slobi is a good guy, full of all kinds of useful info, and he’s quite the hunter, which is part of the reason why he knows how to make sausage. He makes venison sausage quite a bit. He even offered to help us cut up our own beef in his garage, he has the hook already in place. Nice. So I meet up with everyone around 7 and we are ready to get started but the meat was individually wrapped in 1 lb. packages, so we stood in the garage and unwrapped 80 packages. Slobi was not happy. He’s kind of a ball buster so he was giving Kume a hard time about “not being ready to work”. It didn’t take long to unwrap it, that turned out to be the least amount of work all night. At this point I was still under the delusion that this would take “a couple hours” as I was lead to believe. I was a tad skeptical as this was the second time I made sausage, but I figured since the meat was already ground we were already half way home. Wroooooong!
We divided up the meat into two of the big plastic tubs, the kind with lids you can get at the hardware store. Now it was time to add the spice. It was nothing too exotic, just some fresh garlic, paprika (which the Serbs put in damn near every dish) pepper, salt, crushed red pepper and a bit of sugar. And as you can imagine the was no measuring going on. All the spices were dumped in until we felt it was enough. Now this was the part that sucked most of all. How do you think we mixed the spice into the meat? You got it, with our hands. The meat was so f’in cold I could hardly stand it. It was like plunging my fists into a snow bank. I had to stop every couple minutes to let them warm up and continue on. This went on for a good 15 minutes until the sausage overlord Slobi said we could stop. No biggie though, we paid some dues at the hands of the master. I wondered how we would know if it was enough spice or what, then Slobi just grabbed a handful, mashed it into a patty and had his wife cook it up, and we ate it. Genius. I felt a little stupid not having put that together myself. We added some more salt and some paprika, I think, and went back to mixing. Thankfully we solved the spice matrix on the second shot and didn’t have to mix anymore. Now it was time to make some sausage.
If you’ve never made sausage before let me tell you it is a hilarious affair once you get to the actual making of it. All the prep work is not funny at all. I take that back, making the meat balls is kind of funny. There is bound to be some sort of joke about “squeeze the balls hard, but gently” and this night was no different. Admittedly, for a guy in my 30’s I tend to be juvenile, especially at times like this. I can’t help it! Balls, long phallic sausages, handling meat, stuffing casings! I’m giggling right now while typing! heh heh. Ok, we load up the hopper with big balls of meat and close the lid. The casing is rolled down the nozzle the sticks out the bottom and worked on down the shaft until there is enough and then its time to turn the crank. That part is grueling. There is nothing automatic about it, its old school, and a constant and steady speed has to be maintained or the sausage can burst, and that’s not good for anyone. For roughly 4 hours we cranked, pressed and stuffed sausage. It was a test of endurance to say the least. Granted there were a few breaks here and there for a beer or rekija. But we got it done. 80 lbs of delicious, fresh, home-made sausage. Kum gave me a few links to take home a try. So Sunday morning we had one for breakfast and it was fantastic.
Getting to take some home was a plus for me, I was along for the experience. It was worth it, and I fully intend to do it again.