August 19 1998
The Eating of the Hot Dogs
or the making thereof

The task of the day:

More Sausages

Today was emulsion sausage day. A bit more about that in a moment.

* * *

We started cures today for:

  • Hot Dogs
  • Country Style Pâté
  • Italian Sausage with Peppers
  • Prep of Salmon, Pork, and Beef for Smoking

* * *

Each group today made an emulsion sausage. These are sausages where the meat has been ground very fine, and then emulsified with fat and ice. The normal ratio is meat:5 fat:4 ice:3. This is thus called a 5/4/3 forcemeat.

An emulsion is a blending of two things that don't like to go together, like fat and water. There are temporary emulsions (like vinegrette) where there isn't anything to keep these substances together. Eventually, they will decide to go their separate ways. Permenant emulsions require some kind of binding. In mayonaise and lots of sauces, this is provided by eggs. In sausages, it's provided by non-fat dry milk powder (called N.F.D.M).

Why milk? Because in the natural state, milk is also an emulsion! There's water and fat. Remove the fat (that's the non-fat part) and the water (that's the dry part), and what's left must be what keeps milk from separating. I wonder what they use for Kosher hot dogs?

So, thus informed. One takes three pounds of ice and five pounds of meat, grinds them up in a special (rather large) chopping machine, adds fat, and grinds until the result looks like a thick pink milkshake. Then, the N.F.D.M is added. Still more grinding, to whip air into this mess. As someone said, never watch how sausage is made.

The result is stuffed into the appropriate sized casings. This is how one makes hot dogs, kilbassa, balogna, and many other sausages. For hot dogs, it's sheep casings, because they are small. They are also a royal pain to work with, because they are small.

* * *

The Japanese are starting to work better with the teams. I think maybe they were just under jet lag plus major culture shock. Our team member (who has a very long name Usomethingsomethingsomething) is addressed as U. So we get to shout "Hey U!" across the kitchen. I'm not sure he understands the humor in that yet.

U and I ran off the hot dogs together. Our other teammate claims to be a CIA graduate, but he sure doesn't know his way around the kitchen very well. He's also pretty lazy about helping out with things like dishes, and works very very slowly. 45 minutes to peel 4 peppers? Come on!

* * *

Tomorrow, we start finishing up all of our items. Some will be smoked, some have been air-drying, some get cooked, some stay raw. On Friday, we'll be plating some of these items up and trying them. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Tom and the Hot Dogs!

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Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy
Comments? dowdy@poubelle.com