Culinary Arts Project

Hot Dogs – Charcuterie’s most complex sausage yet…who knew? – Day 52


  • Italian Sausage is flavoured with fennel – take the meat out of the casing, fry it up with more crushed fennel, chile peppers, lemon, white wine and oregano. Tada – you have one of my favourite non-tomato pasta sauces.
  • Spice Secret – Pimenton (which is a Spanish Paprika) – use both the hot and sweet types to give a real spicy taste to meat. This is where the famed ‘chorizo’ taste comes from.
  • When dividing a sausage into ‘links’ – you squish the sausage at each link end, twist the link 7 times one way, then, as long as the desired firmness is achieved, you twist the next link 7 times the other way, etc….

Today certainly was a surprise. We made chorizo, and garlic sausages, but who would have guess that the good ‘ol hot dog was going to be the most complex to make. To begin with, there were 17 ingredients, and second: the emulsification.

Alton, Megan and Joe stuff sausages.....
Alton, Megan and Joe stuff sausages….. are Gerardo and Spencer
….as do Gerardo and Spencer

Sausages are divided into three main types: a) straight, b) emulsified, and c) fermented. Emulsified basically means that it is primarily all one homogenous texture because the meat and fat (and other ingredients) have been perfectly emulsified, like in a hot dog. This is easier said than done. The beef is put through the grindr separately from the pork fatback (these are the two main meat ingredients) and then again through increasingly smaller grinds. Then the beef is transferred to a mixer and crushed ice is added to start the emulsification. The seasoning is added as well (sugar, cayenne, Spanish paprika, white and black pepper, white and pink salt, coriander, smoke powder, nutmeg)…. and next the ‘chemicals’. Now these ‘chemicals’ are all naturally occurring, but still…they sound like chemicals: phosphate (to retain moisture), ascorbic acid (a slight anti-septic and acidic profile), dextrose (simple sugar, adds a hint of sweetness), and milk powder (acts as a binder), and lastly the fatback. All these ingredients are mixed for about 20 minutes until it all comes together into a paste-like goop, that is exactly that fleshy hot dog color of pink. Who knew that that weird color was its natural color. We then passed it into sheep’s intestine casing. We fried up a little bit to test the seasoning, and it really tasted quite good.

Fleshy goop - a hot dog is born
Fleshy goop – a hot dog is being born
The hot dog mise en place
The hot dog mise en place

The highlight of the day taste-wise was definitely the chorizo. This is ground pork and fatback, but the magic ingredient is pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika). The Spanish are as picky about their pimenton as the French are about their wines. The Spanish have a whole “Appelation Controlée” equivalent for pimenton. We used both the sweet (dulce) and hot (Picante). One of the early ‘aha’ taste moments for me was in Level 1 when we baked an egg in heavy reduced cream, on a base of chorizo. It was soooo good. I’m looking forward to making that again with this homemade chorizo.

Vitor and buckwheat
Vitor and his buckwheat pasta
The boys tossing the german potato salad
The boys tossing the german potato salad

Congrats to the family meal gang. Gina from corporate came up and gathered them around to tell them how exceptional it was. Chef Ben was under a bit of pressure to deliver today because the food theme was German, and Master Chef Mark Bauer was a German food connoisseur and was eating family meal today. They clearly delivered. Even before Gina’s accolade, I had told them I thought the food today was amazing, particularly Rachel’s onion-cranberry marmalade and Vitor’s buckwheat pasta.

Tomorrow, we continue preparing for our charcuterie buffet by starting a Salmon Paté en Croute. I’m going to get a cramp writing out that recipe card, it’s three pages long!

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