I love sausages. The only thing I DON'T love about sausages is that they can be a bugger to cook. When you grill them, you can end up with half of them burnt on the outside but still underdone on the inside and then the other ones are overcooked and dried out. Don't even get me started about them busting open before they are done and losing all of their delicious juices. In the winter, I poach them, which works well, but I couldn't help but think that sous vide might be the answer to all of my sausage dreams.
As always, I read a hundred articles about sous vide pork sausages before I started and the general consensus was to cook them at 60C or 140F for anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. I had three types of pork sausage and, as you can see down there, I sealed some of them in my Food Saver bags and I left the two Italian sweet sausages for the zip lock bag. I used my Anova Precision Cooker with my polycarbonate bin and I watched House of Cards while they cooked. I was wearing yoga pants.
Because I wasn't going to use them right away, I plunged them in an ice bath immediately upon removal from the water bath and then popped all of them into the fridge.
Over the next couple of days, I used them in various ways. One day I sliced one up, fried it and served it along side some scrambled eggs for breakfast. If you just throw them in a hot pan with a tiny bit of oil and brown them up, they are the perfect sausage - perfectly and evenly cooked inside but nicely browned on the outside. Another night, I grabbed a couple sausages and whipped up a quick batch of sausage and peppers to throw at The Kid for supper.
I had three sausages left and what I really wanted was a German style sausage and red cabbage dish but The Kid wanted risotto so I combined the two ideas and came up with a red cabbage and sausage risotto made with beer. It's not the prettiest, but it is really delicious. I held one sausage back and sliced it up , sautéed the sausage slices and put a few on top of each bowl of rice. BOOM, a new family favourite is born.
Okay, final thoughts on sous vide sausages?
All pros, no cons with this one. The sausages should be done after the first hour and are fine to leave in for another hour or so. It's easy, the sausages are all cooked perfectly, you can pre cook a bunch and then even freeze them right in their air tight bag to use later on.
This is the only way I will do sausages from now on - as soon as the temperature climbs above -45560C, I will try this out on the BBQ.
The zip lock bags work really well but the one thing I really love about the Food Saver bags is that they come out of the water bath air tight so they will last much longer if I am going to precook them and throw them in the freezer. If you are going to eat them right away or within a couple of days, the zip lock bags work just fine.
Beer Hall Risotto
risotto doesn't require precise measurements so you can just eyeball most of the additions, so relax and just go with it
approx 1litre chicken stock
glug of olive oil
1 small onion or a couple of shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 or 3 links of cooked pork sausage, sliced into coins (sous vide for 1.5 hrs at 60C/140F)
1 1/3 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup lager
1 small wedge of red cabbage, chopped (just a couple of handfuls)
2 or 3 tbls cold butter, cubed
about 1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat your olive oil in a deep sided pan or large pot over medium high and saute the onion and the garlic for a minute before throwing in 2/3 of the sausage. Brown the sausage up a bit and then add in your rice and stir well, making sure that its totally coated with the fat in the pan. Stir that around for a couple of minutes before you pour in your beer.
This is where you must start to stir. I do a couple of turns around the outside of the pot and then a figure 8 and just keep repeating that configuration as I slowly add more stock, a ladle at a time until the rice is done - about 20 minutes will do it.
So, once the beer is absorbed, add your first ladle of stock, stir and when the liquid is almost totally absorbed, add more stock, stir and keep doing this. Throw in the cabbage after about five minutes of this and just keep going. If you run out of stock near the end, you can add water to the stock pot or even some more beer isn't going to hurt.
When the rice has absorbed all the liquid it can and the rice is nicely cooked - it should be al dente and still have a tiny bit of bite to it, take the pot off of the heat. Beat the cold butter and cheese into the pot with your wooden spoon until everything is melted into the rice, taste to see if needs any salt, add some black pepper, cover it and set it aside while you heat up a small frying pan. Saute the remaining 1/3 of the sausage slices until nicely browned.
Plate up your risotto into shallow bowls and top each with a few slices of sausage and serve.