“No off cuts. No short cuts. Just prime cuts” – Real Sausage Making with Jane Russell

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve wondered exactly how sausages are made? No? Well, it’s actually quite a curious thing!

Today our Professional Cookery Certificate students, and the public, got a hands-on workshop that was all to do with the art of sausage-making, with artisan producer, Jane Russell.

Jane’s sausage story actually began way back in 1863 when her great, great grandfather Edmund Burke had his own pork and bacon business on O’Connell Street in Clonmel.

His motto was: “If there was a better sausage, Burkes would make it!” and thankfully he saw the value and importance of keeping notebooks and diaries of his ideas and recipes – something that was passed on eventually to Jane!

Producing premium, meaty sausages (all by hand we might add!) in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, Jane only uses fresh shoulder and belly meat that’s sourced from Bord Bia approved Irish farms.

Jane Russell's sausages
Under Jane’s watchful eye and clear tutelage, she guided our students through the entire process, from taking a massive slab of pork belly to turning it into a delectable sausage.

Jane with students

First up the students had to cut up the pork and though Jane brought in her own spices, which included nutmeg, coriander, ginger and white pepper, they were invited to add their own mix. Soon the scent of spice was in the air!

Pork belly

These cuts of seasoned and spiced meat were then fed into a Kenwood mixer with a mincer attachment.

Getting down to the nitty gritty, Jane stressed the importance of having your meat cold before making sausages to help prevent the further spread of bacteria. Naturally, the more you use the meat, the more heat is applied to it, and her advice for our students was to pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes to let it cool down (or 10 minutes if you were in a rush).

Students with mincer

“Knead the mince to a fine, tacky mixture, so it sticks to your hands”, Jane said, “don’t be afraid to give it a good squeeze!”

While the meat was left to rest, the students prepared the sausage casings. The casings are usually made from animal intestines, and are used to encase the sausage meat (so they look like the sausages you see in supermarkets).

Fionn with sausage dogFionn and his “sausage dog”

According to Jane, if you don’t want to use natural casings, you could also choose collagen casings, but instead of a lovely curved sausage, you’d have more uniformed and straight-looking ones! The casings themselves actually don’t add much flavour but what they do add is texture.

Preparing sausage meat

One of the most important things to do with the casings when you buy them in a packet is to actually wash them.

Oftentimes they come in a salty solution so you need to rinse that off before you use them. With the casings in one bowl and a bowl of clean, cold, water next to it, rinse the casings about three times, back and forth to remove the saline solution.

Preparing sausage with casing

Fionn and Maria making sausages

Slowly and steadily, the sausages came together and soon it was time to “link” them in a chain to give them a more practical but artisan look.

Sausage links

We are such fans of Jane Russell, and it was great to see how handmade sausages were made from start to finish (and of course, they tasted delicious). We hope to see her again very soon!

UnaSigIf you’re interested in learning more about sausage making, click onto our website hereFor more information on Jane’s super sausages, you can check out her website here.

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