I've written before about my next door (sort of) neighbour, Jamie, who took Buster the bull away and was going to turn him into lovely steaks for me, in return for some of my sausage making knowledge. Sounded like a sweet deal to me and Buster was shipped off the Jamie's home farm, where he got to eat better grass than Lantanaland ever had in his final days. Then I got a call,
"hey John I haven't forgotten you but I've been thinking about that bull, I think we might kill something a bit better tasting and I'll do something else with the bull. Is that ok?"
Of course I jumped at it. Jamie being Jamie it was a few more weeks before he rang to say they'd knocked over a cow and would hang it for a while before butchering it up. Sure enough I got a call on tuesday to say I was on for that afternoon. They'd break the body in the morning and we would make snags after work. I dropped in on the way to work and checked out the quarters, lovely dark meat with a great capping of fat. Once I got in I pre soaked some natural casings and put on some stock to put in the beef snags.
When I got there in the afternoon I was pretty excited. This is four year old beef, on great grass and the snags should have fantastic flavour. I was going to do three, a plain beef snag, but unlike any you would get at a supermarket or most butchers, a smoked chorizo and a cooked salami. The area we were working in was just a farm shed, a steel table, an old mincer and cold room and some tubs. I got straight to work on the beef, hand mixing the meal and stock through the mince and running it through the fine plate again. Then the chorizo and the salami. Unfortunately I forgot to grab some chillies off the bush in the morning so it will be a mild salami.
We were all ready to go and I had had a look at the old modified water sausage filler they had bolted to the wall because they had taken the bottom and legs off for the modifications. We were just standing around waiting for Jamie to 'bring the tractor in'. Jamie had told me that he used the tractor to power the filler but I wasn't sure what he meant. I soon found out! The tractor was backed up and hooked up to the hydraulics. The filler was operated by someone lifting the hydraulics up and down in the cab. Interesting. I threaded the casings onto the nozzle, an old beaten up piece of copper water piping joined on to the filler with a modified irrigation valve. MacGyver would've had a look at this thing and exclaimed "steady on"!
A bit of fiddling around to get the o rings to fit in, not easy when your controller is sitting up in a tractor cab, we loaded the beef snags in and started off. My god, I've never had sausages come out that quickly, it was more cannon than filler. I tried to get the rhythm of it but busted the casing a heap of times. I then filled out some chorizo and some cooked mettwurst salami that I took into work the next day and smoked in the commercial smokehouse at work.
My share is a fair whack of beef. How they dealt with this in the days before refrigeration is a marvel. Jamie is a real old school farmer type bloke, just happy to help and have a go at something. We are bloody lucky to be sharing a boundary with him.
Postscript. Last night we had the first steaks out of the batch. My god they were good. Some stroganoff tomorrow I think, fresh pasta and homekill beef. Heaven.