Three weeks of travelling and a week of catching up with life made me exhausted. But it’s now back to the saddle, cooking and creating once again. While traveling, eating great food and catching new sights are both inspirational fun, it’s doing the things that I really love that energize me.
So anyway, onto June’s Charcutepalooza challenge – stuffing and making poultry sausage links. And I’m going to start off with a HUGE claim – this is easily one of, if not the, most delicious thing I’ve ever cooked.
On the trouble with birds
So the grinding bit is kind of like last month’s challenge of making bulk sausage.
Pigs were made for charcuterie. The belly is great for bacon and pancetta, the legs are awesome for prosciutto (just like the famous Iberian ham), the intestines for sausage casing, and the head for head cheese. Furthermore, pork shoulder (or butt, same thing just different name) has the magically perfect fat to lean meat ratio that makes them great when stuffed into tube form. It’s almost uncanny that an animal is made for cured meat.
But we’re dealing with poultry here. Unlike pork, poultry tends to be a lot leaner. And while poultry can be tasty, lean sausages suck. Ideally, standard non-emulsified sausages should contain about 30% fat. Poultry tend to have less than that. That’s the trouble with making bird sausages.
But wait, all is not lost. Pigs are also great for charcuterie for one other reason other than those I listed. They come to the rescue of poultry sausages in the form of back fat. (The only other instance where back fat is a good thing is when it comes from a crab.) Pork back fat is neutral in flavor and has the right consistency for a sausage. Perfect.
On the casing
Most sausages casings are either made from animal’s intestines, animal collagen or some kind of plant cellulose. But why not stuff it into say, a duck’s neck? I actually got the idea when watching an episode of Top Chef and Master Chef. They aren’t necessarily shows I follow but it’s funny how the two episodes I was paying attention to mentioned the same intriguing idea. It just made so much sense. Duck skin is delicious when crisp, has plenty of fat (duck fat at that) which keeps the sausage moist and it’s just plain simple to stuff.
I’m sure most of my Charcutepaloozians can tell you stories of their horrid encounters with the third kind when stuff sausages for the first time with a bad sausage stuffer and regular casing. Well, it’s a breeze on a duck neck. All that was required was to tie the narrower end of the neck with butcher’s twine then fill the neck up with meat. All too easy if you ask me.
Anyway, I think I’m still recovering from South-east Asia. It seems like everything I’ve been cooking has an Asian twist to it. This duck sausage is no exception – with plenty of Asian ingredients like five-spice powder and shaoxing white wine. I guess it’s in my blood.
On the actual cooking
So cooking a duck neck sausage can be slightly trickier than usual because it’s so darn thick. The key is to score the skin, and start cooking it on a cold pan on low heat. That way, the fat renders from the skin, making it crisp. Once brown, I finished the sausage in a 350F oven till the interior hit 160F.
On the sauce
While I was in Singapore, I was eating curry wursts while pounding beers with my brother one night. It’s amazing what a sauce can do to a simple piece of sausage. And with something as amazing as duck neck sausage, it’ll be a shame not to have it.
Like the duck sausage, this sauce has an Asian twist to it. I do think that a large part to why this dish was so epic was the sauce.
2 Duck Legs, deboned, skin removed and deboned
150g Pork Fat
1 tsp Five Spice Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 head Roasted garlic
1 tsp Shaoxing Chinese Cooking White Wine
1 tsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Duck Neck
The whole process of making the stuffing is simple – chuck the non-liquid ingredients together, season, let it chill, grind, keep chill, add the liquid ingredients, mix, taste, re-season then mix some more. (See the last post on grinding up bulk sausage.) Chill the meat some more, then stuff.
Foong’s Killer Duck Neck Sausage Sauce
1 Shallot, chopped
1 Tbsp Duck Fat
2 Cups Chicken/Duck Stock
1 Tsp Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Sirarcha Sauce
1 Tsp Shaoxing Cooking Wine
1 Tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- Heat a pan with some duck fat and add the chopped shallots. Let it sauté till soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add the duck stock bring it to a boil. Add the soy sauce and Sirarcha sauce.
- Boil till the liquid is reduced by half.
- Add the cooking wine and rice wine vinegar. Taste and add more salt if necessary.