Sunday, December 9, 2012

Estonian Barley Sausage

My dad was from Estonia and came to Canada as a young boy. He brought with him traditions from his homeland, many having to do with the Christmas Holidays. One of my favourites is making traditional barley sausages, made with barley, onion, pork, bacon, salt and spices (marjoram, thyme, and sage).

In the old days dad and mom would dice the meats by hand and stuff using a manual stuffer my dad made in a tool & die shop when he was a young man. About 5 years ago (a couple of years before his passing) we upgraded to a LEM 5 pound stuffer and that makes short work of even the largest batch of sausage. We also invested in our own meat grinder (but find it easier to have the butcher grind pork shoulder for us). What used to take us most of the day, can now be whipped off in a few hours.

We never really use a recipe for our sausages as we have differing amounts of ingredients every year, we make a test batch before stuffing and decide if it's up to snuff, if it is, we stuff, if it isn't we adjust the seasoning accordingly. You can use this recipe as a start, it'll give you the flavours you're after.

We cook the barley according to the package directions, we add some salt to the barley as it boils as well, we let the barley cool overnight and then add the the ground pork, bacon, onion, salt and spices and then mix well. We cook up a test patty to check seasoning before stuffing.

We start by soaking the casings to rinse the salt and rehydrate them.

We then rinse the casings to wash out any debris and loosen them up.

I lightly oil the stuffing tube and load the casing onto the filled stuffer.

We crank and coil the sausage, this was our first coil of the year so it's a bit ugly.

We portion out individual links.

Boil to cook the meat through and set the casings.


Then package and freeze.

On Christmas Eve we take a pound of thinly sliced bacon, and place half of it on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. We lay three sausage links on top of the bacon and then layer the rest of the pound of bacon slices on top of the sausages. cook at 425°F until the bacon is crispy. Eat with lingonberry jam (usually found at Ikea in their food department).

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