The executive chef of dine by Peter Gordon at SkyCity answers your cuisine questions.

I recently tried making my own sausages. My local butcher sold me some synthetic casing, and I made my own filling. However when it came to filling the casing, I was stymied by its stench. The result was inedible. I soaked the casing in salted water prior to starting, and after having problems with the smell, I also tried soaking it in vinegar. But the smell persisted throughout the drying period and even after cooking. Where/what brand of casing should I buy, and what sort of preparation should I make, to succeed in making my own sausages?

- Janet

There's no reason why the synthetic casings should have been so smelly - I've used them in the past - so there was clearly something wrong with them. If you're making your own meat sausages then why not use natural animal casings, which are intestines, usually from hog or sheep, thoroughly cleaned. Using these natural, less appealing, bits of the beast is a far more sustainable thing to do than to use artificial casings. But anyway, that's enough berating because I love that you are making your own sausages.

I can remember making sausages for the first time with my father in Wanganui in the early 70s. We hooked up the sausage attachment to the Kenwood Chef, tried to figure out how to get the meaty bits inside the skins, which were so slippery that we thought they were alive still, and went for it. The results were hilarious if my memory serves me correctly, but the taste of a homemade sausage seemed better than that of eye fillet. When I moved to Melbourne in 1981 and began working in restaurants, I remember my disbelief at making seafood sausages. What a crazy idea. Lots of squid, fish trim, scallops, prawn tail, allspice and water went into them. Those we did stuff into artificial collagen casings as it just didn't seem right to put seafood into lamb intestines. We also made lovely merguez sausages from spiced and dried mint-flavoured lamb mince and at that point I became obsessed with making sausages from anything that once had a pulse. Duck, star anise and orange peel was a particular favourite at the time.

A few years back I was in Spain making chorizo at a Matanza - a celebration of the pig where every part of it is used and preserved or processed by hand. The sausage stuffer was an old wood and metal thing that had a crank handle attached to force the meat in. I was told I had "good technique" and so spent an hour making the most delicious chorizo with my friends.


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