First, I want to apologize for my long delay between posts. February was an exciting month, but also a very full one. I just started an awesome new job, and have found that a lot of my mental energy has been consumed with planning, learning, and working. I also traveled to Orange County for almost a week to celebrate my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Our family gathered together from all over the west coast to celebrate my grandparents amazing marriage and longevity (they are 94 and 96). The highlight of the week for me was spending time with my adorable niece Evie, who is 3 1/2, and nephew James, who is 10 months old (and their parents, of course). They live in Portland, OR, so I don’t get to see them very often. Now I’m back home, and looking forward to getting back into my kitchen on a more regular basis.
So I’m back with a pretty involved project. Years ago, when I bought my KitchenAid Mixer, I also purchased a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer attachment. I’m embarrassed to say that I put them into a plastic tub and tucked them into my pantry. 4 years later, I’ve finally gotten motivated to pull them out and make sausage. To be honest, what motivated me was the opportunity to test this recipe for the Food52 website. They have regular competitions on the website to submit original recipes on a theme, and ask the other website members to test out the top contenders. I offered to test this one, so dug out my meat grinder and followed the recipe to a tee! I was impressed with the ease of grinding the meat and stuffing the sausage, especially with me being a newbie.
This recipe was pretty complex, and took two days to complete. To be honest, I think if I made it a second time, I might take a few shortcuts to get to a very similar flavor. So what I’m going to do is share what I did, but also share some time-savers I’d suggest if you’d like to get to a very similar result with a lot less effort and time. The key element of this recipe is the tandoori spice paste. It is thoroughly delicious! The paste gives the meat a richness and depth that really elevates it to a special-occasion dish. So instead of dicing your meat into pieces, then grinding it in the grinder, then stuffing it, you can create a similar flavor by mixing the paste into some pre-ground meat and cooking it as loose sausage meat or patties.
Tandoori Chicken Sausage
Makes 5 lbs of sausage
For the seasoning paste
2 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 cardamon pods, crushed
2 onions, grated
2 tomatoes, grated
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons yogurt
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
3 tablespoons paprika
1 lime, juiced
For the Sausage (sausage grinding and stuffing procedure)
3.5 pounds chicken thigh meat, diced into small pieces
1.5 pounds pork back fat, diced into small pieces
40 grams of kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1 cup ice cold water
10 feet of hog casings, soaked to re-hydrate
For the Sausage (simple loose sausage procedure)
3 pounds ground chicken, not lean
2 pounds ground pork or un-seasoned fresh pork sausage (adds fat to make texture more like sausage)
40 grams of kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
The first step in the recipe is to cook the spices on the stove to make the masala. Heat some olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and cloves. Allow the aromas to fill your kitchen and for the spices to toast a little. Add the grated onion and tomatoes. Season with salt and cook until nicely brown and caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the turmeric and cayenne pepper and cook for another minute. Add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, serrano chiles, paprika, lime juice and garam masala. Cook the masala until it is completely dry and there is no visible moisture. This is key to ensuring your sausage becomes the correct texture. The finished masala should look like a seasoning paste. Take the masala off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove all of the whole spices at this point (cloves, cinnamon, bay, and cardamom).
For the sausage grinding and stuffing technique:
If you add hot masala to the chicken, the chicken will cook, so make sure the masala is extremely cold before adding it to the diced chicken and pork fat. Add cilantro and the salt to the chicken masala and let sit in the fridge overnight so everything gets really, really cold. I’d recommend putting it into the freezer for a couple of hours before you grind it, which helps the texture to keep from getting too sticky.
Put the chicken mixture through the small die on a meat grinder. Once all is ground, put the mixture in the bowl of your kitchen aid and start the mixture with the paddle attachment. Slowly add in the water until the mixture becomes very sticky, about 1 minute.
Put the hog casings on the tube of your sausage stuffer and stuff into one huge link. Then, twist the casing to create 6 inch links. You can also save some loose sausage meat and use it to make sausage patties, as you can see below. The loose meat freezes well in quart-sized ziploc bags.
Cook the sausages to 160 degrees either by grilling or roasting.
For the loose sausage method:
Remove the paste from the fridge, add in the salt and cilantro, and run it in a food processor for a minute, just to break down any remaining chunks. Mix the paste into the ground chicken and pork, stirring to combine thoroughly. You can then form the meat into patties or cook as loose sausage meat to use in recipes like frittatas.