A dog is for life

Note: Alas I have misplaced my camera and had to proceed with making the sausages without it until my flat-mate came home and I could borrow hers. Totally my fault for leaving it to the last minute of course, but then she went to bed and I didn’t have the cable to download the pics. DISASTER : [  I did manage to revive my ancient Canon Ixus (circa 2002) for long enough to take a picture of the end product but I’ll update this post with the pictures I took as soon as I can.

May I present the cutest hot dog in London.

American food in London is riding high on a wave of revival. I recently enjoyed a Big Apple hot dog at Tweat-Up which brings food lovers together to support new food startups in London.  It’s so good having the excuse to eat, drink and be merry in the name of research and development.

So then, on to my version.

I always try to buy ‘real’ meat from ‘proper’ butchers and taking part in Charcutepalooza gives me the chance each month to try out a different butcher.  At first I am met with bemusement and surprise. The wry smile on the face of every butcher I’ve encountered that betrays a certain incredulity and disbelief when I order entire pork bellies, or great hunks of beef with instructions to:

‘Please leave it ON THE BONE. I’ll DO IT MYSELF. No I really do WANT to do it myself. Yeah I’m making sausages (or pastrami, or bacon)…NO! For heavens sake DON’T mince the meat I’M doing that. ‘

But that doesn’t last long, because after the realisation dawns that I’m really quite serious their curiosity is piqued and the questions start flowing. Before long they’re very excited about this ‘young lass’ whose taken their dying trade to heart and aare asking me to bring in samples and recipes. I’m not sure how much of this is down to me being a girl but I’m sure it helps.

For June’s hot dog challenge I thought I’d give O’Shea’s of Knightsbridge a go. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with London – it’s just across the way from Harrods and the area is what you might call ‘well Posh’. I was terrified of how much this excursion was going to cost.

Well, it wasn’t cheap, but it also wasn’t as ridiculous as I feared. They were very friendly and the butcher who served me told me about the shop he worked at in New Zealand that served 37 different types of sausages including Pork & Banana and Mussel & Onion. We chatted about sausage in an entirely innocent way for at least 15 minutes before I cycled off with my meaty purchases.

Once home I proceeded with the usual sausage making process of cubing, chilling, grinding, etc. The difference with hot dogs is that the fat and protein are blended together to form an emulsion, giving a much smoother texture. With emulsified sausage the meat is sprinkled with salt and left to rest so that the protein Myosin, which helps the ingredients bind and improves the texture of the sausage, can develop.

It’s a bit of a pain really – espeacially as I don’t have a mixer or food processor. In the end I blended the meat to a paste with the egg beater but it could have been much more paste like. Still not bad.

I’d like to do this again and not be in such a rush, but actually have time to enjoy the process and learn more about emulsified sausage. Good thing then that I’ve been commissioned to make Bratwurst for a friends birthday!

After stuffing the sausages I cold smoked them for a few hours with Cherry wood. I decided to stick with convention – hot dogs are a classic and as they say why fix what ain’t broke eh? I braised the dogs in beer before enjoying my hot dog in buttery brioche roll with French’s mustard and caramelized onion. And more beer.


Recipe

Caramelized Onion.

A few white onions (perhaps one per person) sliced

Fat (I used dripping – but Lard, oil or butter will do too).

Salt

Sugar

Mustard seeds (optional)

Heat the oil in a pan.

When hot add the mustard seeds and fry for a few seconds before adding the onions.

Fry the onions on a medium heat for about 20 -30 minutes keeping an eye on them and stirring occasionally so that they do not burn.

About half way through cooking season the onions with salt and a sprinkle of sugar to taste. It doesn’t need much, but the seasoning will concentrate the sweet taste of the onions.

They should be soft, nicely browned and not at all crunchy.

Serve as a garnish on hot dogs, or any other suitable food. Or if you’re like me just eat them staight out of the frying pan.

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3 responses to “A dog is for life

  • Nic

    Wow, talk about cutting it fine. But you did it! Great post and your hot dogs look great. I’ve also had similar conversations with butchers but never anywhere as salubrious as Knightsbridge!

  • mosaica

    My favorite part is where you describe chatting with your butcher about sausage “in an entirely innocent way for at least 15 minutes.” Ha! My inner 12-year old, which I channel with ease, snort-giggled happily. Your hot dogs look good, and knowing how difficult it was at my end, and imagining camera trouble on top of that.. aii! All in all, it’s a job well done when you get me hungry for hot dogs at 9am less than a week after I finished making my own hot dogs ;-)

  • saffron and salt

    Thanks you two. It was rather stressful – I don’t want to do it like this again. I think, though, that all of us are going to cream the next challenge – I’m making duck rillette this weekend. : ] And I LOVE chicken liver pate.

    Mosaica I don’t think my hot dogs were quite emulsified enough – I need to get a food processor. Will have to start saving!

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