Buffalo Chicken Sausages
“Buffalo sausage won’t you come out tonight? Come out tonight, oh, come out tonight. My buffalo sausage won’t you come out tonight…..”
That is the first verse of my new song. It’s called, “Buffalo Sausage, Won’t You Come Out Tonight”. I KNOW. But sometimes the music just speaks to you. I feel quite certain that it’s going to be a hit overseas, possibly in Cambodia. I hear they’re really down with Indie Food Rock in that part of the world.
In case it wasn’t glaringly evident from the title, I am posting yet another article about sausages. Why? Well, because I really like sausages. I also really like hot wings and blue cheese. As a result, I’m really into Buffalo chicken sausages. They’re just everything good about pub grub, wrapped in casing, and mixed with everything good about a casual back yard BBQ. That’s a lot of good and a lot of cholesterol……ergo, a lot of happiness from my end.
I would like to take this opportunity to lie to you, and tell you that these sausages are leaner and healthier than the last ones that I made….except that I can’t. Sure, they don’t have two pounds of beef fat lacing them, but eventually you’re going to scroll down the page and see those magic words, “Bacon”, “Butter” and “Cheese”…..my gig would soon be up. On the plus side, pork IS the other white meat, and as far as I’m concerned, cheese is a food group in and of itself….I’m rationalizing, I know. But it’s for a good cause – a blue cheesy buffalo spiced chickeny cause. My plight is understandable.
In terms of heat, some like it hot and others…don’t like Buffalo wings. I understand that, and since I know that realistically Mike and I are not going to eat all these sausages on our own (although I wouldn’t mind if we did), I kept them at a medium heat. The spiciness is really up to you, and if you find during that first test fry that they’re not as hot as you would like, feel free to add more chili either in a dried form (cayenne pepper) or in a small amount of super-hot and fairly viscous sauce. Adding a greater amount of milder sauce could put in too much additional liquid and make the sausages harder to grind. You don’t want to end up with a mealy silt all over the counter top…..or maybe you do? Sigh. Who am I to judge?
Buffalo Chicken Sausages
Makes appx 2 dozen
- 2 kg (about 4.5 lb) boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1.25 kg (about 2.75 lb) boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 700 g (1.5 lb) streaky bacon
- 1 cup melted butter
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp dried marjoram
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1.25 cups hot sauce *
- 5 fat cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp tomato paste **
- 2 tbsp paprika **
- 1.5 tbsp kosher salt
- 350 g blue cheese ***
- appx 20 feet of sheep intestine for casing
* You can use whatever type of hot sauce you prefer, but a thin, spicy vinegar based hot sauce is your best bet. You could buy a medium Piri Piri, or you could just make your own. I blend about 10 large cayenne peppers with 2 cups of white vinegar, some salt, a clove or two of garlic, and two crushed bay leaves. Let it sit for a few hours and then strain the liquid out through a fine mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids to release as much fluid as possible. And…you have a tabasco-style hot sauce. Easy, right?
**Not pictured for no other reason than I forgot. Such is life.
*** A firm and fairly dry blue cheese is what you’re looking for, like a Maytag or Roquefort. A softer blue, like Gorgonzola, would disintegrate as it goes through the grind.
In a medium sized bowl pour in the melted butter, brown sugar, marjoram, vinegar and hotsauce. Yes, there IS hot sauce in there, it’s just hiding under a thick blanket of butter, and who could blame it?
Finely grate or press the garlic into the spicy melted butter mixture and add the tomato paste and salt. Give it a good whisk until everything is homogenous and then let the mixture cool down until it’s close to room temperature.
I tend to surgically remove every last scrap of fat from my chicken whenever possible, but when it comes to sausage making a little bit (or a lot) of fat is usually a good idea. These sausages get their juicy fat fill from copious amounts of butter and cheese rather than pork fat (well, other than the bacon, but who can blame me for a little bacon?) but if the chicken has a little bit of fat on it already, do yourself a f(l)avor and don’t cut it off. Oh god, I can’t believe I just did that with the ‘flavor’. Well, yes I can believe I did that, but I still feel somewhat ashamed.
Chop the chicken up into 1 inch cubes and roughly chop the bacon. Pour the marinade over the chicken, toss it to coat, and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
When you feel ready to start making the sausages, coarsely crumble the blue cheese into the meat mixture and stir it with yoru hands just until the cheese is evenly dispersed. You will notice that the overall color of the mixture looks slightly lighter than it did before, and you would be correct – the butter will coagulate as it chills, becoming lighter in color and taking on an almost granular texture. Don’t worry, that sorts itself out in the grilling.
Fit your meat grinder with a medium sized die and grind a small portion of the meat through. Shape this into one or two small patties and fry them in a pan with a teensy bit of oil so that you can check the seasonings. Does it need more salt? Heat? Now’s your chance, because as soon as that stuffing nozzle goes on, the door to seasoning has slammed shut.
Affix the sausage stuffing attachment to the end. Moisten the tube of your stuffer with ice cold water and carefully slide a length of soaked and well rinsed intestine onto the nozzle. Leave a 3-4 inch tail of casing hanging off the end.
Keep the chicken as cold as possible while you’re making the sausages and you’ll find it much easier, as well as having a better textured sausage when all is said and done. Keep most of the chicken meat in the fridge, bringing out small batches as needed.
Grind the meat through your medium die and into the casing, being sure to let the casings fill up nice and plump as you go along.
Squeeze one end of your sausage tube down, just slightly, to make sure it’s evenly packed. Knot that end and begin pinching our sausage off at 8-10 inch lengths, twirling the center link in a clockwise direction, and then the next center link (during your next round of sausage pinching) in a counter clockwise direction.
Repeat the process, inserting new casings as needed, until all of the meat has been ground through into sausages.
Now then, you’re wondering who would want to make 24 sausages? Let me tell you, my friend. When it comes to rinsing casings, grinding meat, stuffing sausages and twisting off links, before you know it you’ve spent a good couple of hours elbow deep in meat when all is said and done. You might as well make it worth your while, right? Also, sausages are very freezer friendly, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labors for months to come (if they last that long).
Or you could have a backyard BBQ with your friends, family, and Fantasy Football League. Those guys were born to eat these sausages, they just didn’t know it until now.
Like most sausages, you want to be careful how you cook them. They get rather vindictive when the heat is too high, turning a charred face towards you as they protect their vulnerable and uncooked interiors. If the heat is too low they’ll lull you into a false sense of security, saying “Yes, Tina, everything is just fine when really, they’re withering away from the inside out. My preferred method, not that I’m a BBQ Maestro by any stretch of the imagination, is to sear them on the outside over a fairly high heat -just until you can see grill marks and the sausages release easily from the grill- flip them over, and turn the heat down to medium low as they finish cooking through.
It’s like “Sausage on a Bun” met “Buffalo Chix Hot Wings” and had a barbecue love child. Hey, what can I say – I’ve always been a sucker for a love story.
These bad boys would be perfect with a side of creamy coleslaw, but I ate all the cabbage last week. So, instead, they get a healthy side salad and the ubiquitous carrot sticks on the side. As for that lovely bowl of goodness, it’s a compound chili cheese sauce, because why dip your carrots in ranch when you can have that?
Oh, sausage making. It makes me happy. My next step, of course, is to move on into the world of cured meats. Right now, Mike is still operating under the impression that I’m “Not Allowed” to hang meat to dry inside the house. That’s okay, though. It just means I’m going to have to skulk around until I find a sneaky (temperature and moisture controlled) hiding spot!