Yeah, me too.
|Note the pool of delicious spiked sausage juice. These sausage stars know how to party|
|Mr. and Mrs. B.P. Bacons regarded their new neighbor with suspicion. Apparently, "Big C's" reputation had preceded him|
As part of a complete breakfast burrito?
|Mr. Sausage glanced over at Ms. Egg and saw that her cheese was melting. "This is about to become a beautiful morning," he thought to himself...|
|He'd tried to lose himself in the crowd, but the paparazzi always managed to find Frank when he was carousing with "loose sprouts"|
All in all, not too shabby. More descriptively, the first taste of sausage came after about 16 hours of resting in the fridge, and 25 minutes of light boiling on the stovetop. In these initial tastes, the bourbon was a touch too strong, and none of the other flavors had stepped it up to challenge the bourbon's supremacy. Not that this initial taste was bad, but it certainly left something to be desired.
The second taste came after 3 days in the fridge and 40 minutes in the oven at 350F. I'm still getting the hang of my new apartment's oven, and so I was a little too late with my instant-read thermometer, and the sausage dried out a little more than I'd have liked. However, this did have the unexpected benefit of mitigating the strength of the bourbon. The extra time resting in the fridge was also noticeable. With the extra time for flavors to get know one another (you know, get drunk, play never-have-I-ever, sleep off the hangover, get drunk again...) the taste-waveform was much more concise on the palate. WOAH! Hold on, I'd better define that nonsense I just made up, because I think this concept will help us in our unending quest to define and improve experimental sausages:
Taste-Waveform: Imagine that a taste could be quantitatively defined by 3D waveform that represents not only the range of flavors that hit your palate (and where on your palate they hit), but also when those flavors peak on your palate. For any electrical types out there, this should be pretty straightforward; for everyone else, just decouple the sciencey stuff and imagine a graphical representation of what your tongue tastes and when (for example, lots of pepper early and a little bacon in the end, riding a wave of smoky bourbon throughout). I posit that most "complete" food tastes - that is, foods that are now accepted and somewhat mass-produced (for sausage, all the typical varieties we know and love: hot italian, Kielbasa, Chorizo, etc) - would have a waveform with fewer, more clustered peaks. That is to say that "complete" food tastes hit your palate with a purpose, and evoke your gratitude by tickling specific taste areas in discrete amounts of time. No dilly-dallying, no missed targets, sort of like the Navy Seals of flavor. The opposite to this would be an "incomplete" food taste, whose waveform meanders around over the 5-10 seconds in which you taste a bite, starting lightly with sweetness, then stumbling over some salt, mildly frolicking with some peppercorns, and finally hitting a solid wall of bourbon. Sort of like a drunk militia-man. Basically, the more time a taste takes to hit, and the more flavors it meanders through, the less accepting it is to the general palate. A perfected complete-taste waveform might resemble a series of steep peaks, as opposed to a smattering of bumpy hills. Now, back to the sausage in question...
So while the taste-waveform was much better after 3 days, it was still a little bit too confused and delayed to make this a truly great sausage. Next time I make this sausage, there are a few things I will change to try to complete the taste and bring out the peaks:
More Sugar -
I had thought that this sausage would be savory, and it was, but not the way I thought. There was just enough sugar to hint at the tantalizing possibilities of caramel, and another tablespoon would not go amiss.
Less Bourbon -
While Bourbon is great, and more bourbon is usually better, I think there was a little too much in this sausage. Unlike marinading cuts of meat, wherein the contact with alcohol is shorter, and the burning off more complete, sausage-making holds onto the booze too much. For the entire 3 days until cooking, the ground sausage was continuing to marinade with the Bourbon, and as anyone knows, 3 consecutive days with Bourbon is quite the bender. Also, since the sausage casing traps moisture and shields the meat from and bourbon inside from direct flame heat during cooking, not all of the bourbon cooks off the way it would on a grilled cut of meat. The result is a bit too sour and piquant for my taste. Next time, less bourbon.
Cook all the Bacon -
The half pound of uncooked bacon in this sausage didn't add much, and what it did add wasn't great. The great taste of bacon that we know and love is generally of cooked bacon: bacon that has been allowed to caramelize in its own fat. Because the sausage was full of other meats, which insulated the uncooked bacon, it never caramelized and kept the salty, stringy flavor of undercooked bacon. The cooked bacon, on the other hand, was quite noticeable in both the flavor and consistency of the finished sausage and, well, in case my opinions on cooked bacon aren't already evident, that bacon was awesome. In any case, always cook all the bacon.
Add Sage -
This sausage was meant to be earthy and dry, made with brown and red spices, brown bourbon and red bacon, and it was. However, on final inspection, I think that a touch of green would've gone a long way towards completing the taste-waveform. Sage is common to many of our favorite sausages, and I suspect that sage would send signals to the palate to alleviate the confusion caused by this sausage. I know this sounds really cockamamie right now, but trust me on two things: first, this sausage could use some sage. Second, I will continue discussing the taste-waveform, and encourage you, and your palates, to comment and add to the conversation.
|You can't see the taste-waveform in there, but it's still worth looking.|
Stay tuned for next week's question: Why did the FIGurative Turkey cross the road? Was it Drunk?
[Fig, Goat Cheese and Turkey Sausage... with Port]