Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Hot Dogs of Failure

So I figured I'd make a batch of Chicago-style all-beef hot dogs for the 4th. I'd found suet, already frozen and ground at the Ballard Market. So I figured: ok, go get a pound of ground beef, combine them and you're golden. Normally the suet and beef would be ground, then combined and run through the grinder again with ice. I figured since they were going to be whipped in the kitchenaid for six minutes, I'd just combine the meat, suet, spices, and some ice water and let 'er rip. Hot dogs are an emulsified sausage, so it's going to become a paste anyway right?

WRONG. Fail #1.

After six minutes some little chunks of suet refused to go into an emulsion. I couldn't get them to go in and any more whipping risked breaking the emulsion. You can see some of the white flecks in the sausage. But I said, screw it. Into the casings.

Attractive, no?

Fail #2. Casings.

I bought a pack of casings from a local sausage company down the street. They charged more than they were worth, but it was short notice and the day before the 4th. Grr. But what can you do? (Answer: don't make sausage right before the 4th, buy some of their awesome ones instead.) Then it turned out that the casings were on the small side, maybe 29mm but it didn't say on the package. So I had an incredibly frustrating time getting them fed on the tube. And I had part of it burst once it was filled. But at least I have enough for 100 more pounds of sausage... Fortunately they'll last a year or so in the salt-brine I put them into.

Fail #3. Impatience.

Ultimately the lesson is, if you're just getting over a cold and are tired and cranky, don't rush things. Normally the dogs would hang out overnight, then get cold smoked and poached to 140. I figured that the rest was so they'd dry out and the smoke would adhere better. In retrospect, there's a small amount of pink salt in them and the overnight rest would also cure them. But I just went ahead and poached them. So the color is off, and the taste and texture were weird. Not mealy, or particularly more greasy or anything, just weird. I don't think the emulsion broke, I just think it wasn't fully emulsified. Part of it is there's a weird taste that makes me suspect the suet picked up some other flavors from where it was refrigerated before. The other possibility is the lack of 'cured' taste just makes it taste off. Not nearly as good as the last time I made them.

Oh well. They've been sitting overnight, I'm thinking I'll try one out for lunch and see if they've improved at all. Otherwise I'll have one very happy dog this week.

UPDATE: Dog food. (Which is to say, compost. I will not be held responsible for what might happen if I fed Ase two pounds of dubious hot dogs...)


LaDivaCucina said...

I commend you for trying! It always seems like a good idea at the time doesn't it? making hot dogs, how hard can it be? Gives you more respect for the old time sausage makers doesn't it?

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