Photography by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay). GIFs by Patrick Judabong.
The old saying, “There are two things you never want to see made: laws and sausages,” doesn’t apply when you’re hanging out with Aurelien Dufour, whose duties as a charcutier for the Daniel Boulud restaurant empire include making everything from upgraded hot dogs to classic boudin blanc. The precocious meat maestro moved from Paris to New York City at the age of 23 to apprentice under third-generation Gallic charcutier Gilles Verot—the O.G. mastermind behind Boulud’s famed selection of terrines, pâtés, and other prepared meats.
“At DBGB, we have Korean, Mexican, and Italian sausages; we have sausages from all over the world,” says Dufour of Boulud’s downtown beer-and-bangers emporium. Some of these specialties would be tough for a home-cook to pull off, but the chef says that DIY wieners can be a reality with a little bit of patience and elbow grease. As a starter project, Dufour showed us how to make an original recipe for one of his many links—a pork sausage studded with black trumpet mushrooms.
The secret to perfect sausage is to take your time and use the best ingredients.
You can use pork shoulder or pork belly for this recipe. “The breakdown of the shoulder is about 40% fat, 60% meat,” says Dufour. “If you buy shoulder, make sure it has some fat; if not, ask your butcher to add some. If you buy belly, it will have a nice meat-to-fat ratio.”
The meat needs to be ground very fine for this specific sausage (the interior texture will be like that of a hot dog). Ask your butcher to grind the meat fine, or grind it twice. Or, you can achieve the proper consistency at home with a KitchenAid, using the medium-size meat grinder attachment. “Ultimately, the secret to perfect sausage is to take your time and use the best ingredients,” says Dufour.
If you’re too lazy to take on this project at home—or you want to experience Dufour’s sausages first-hand—head to DBGB Kitchen and Bar. From July 10 through September 1, you can get the Back in Black Birthday Banger—a sausage created to celebrate the restaurant’s fifth anniversary—for $10. It’s a pork link studded with black trumpet mushrooms, served on a black poppy seed bun and topped with black trumpets, black garlic sauce, and caramelized onion. And if you order the Back in Black, you can also nab a flight of five DBGB selected beers for $10—pretty sweet deal, if you ask us.
How to Make Sausage à la DBGB
Makes 10-12, 4.5-inch links
* 1 kg pork
* 18g salt
* 1.5g white pepper
* 0.5g garlic
* 1g nutmeg
* 2g Spanish paprika
* 0.5g cayenne
* 3g dehydrated squid ink (optional, for color)
* 100g black trumpet mushrooms (blanched, then soaked in 200g rice wine vinegar for 1 hour)
* 100g whole milk
* 125g ice
* 1lb casing (ask for “24/26″ sheep casing—almost all butcher stores sell it. Ottomanelli & Sons is a butcher store on Bleecker Street in NYC where you can find this casing)
SEASONING THE PORK
Here, Dufour is using an industrial mixer, but the techniques are the same if you use a food processor or Robot Coupe.
1. Place the ground pork in a food processor or Robot Coupe.
2. Add the spice blend (salt, white pepper, garlic, nutmeg, Spanish paprika, and cayenne) to the food processor. Mix until incorporated.
3. Add ice to the food processor while it’s running. This is what Aurelien calls a “cold immersion” sausage.
4. Next, add the milk in a slow stream while the machine is running.
5. Stop the machine at two distinct times during the mixing process. Take a big spatula, scrape down the sides of the machine, and fold the meat mixture with the spatula. This is to make sure all the meat is mixing properly.
6. Add the dehydrated squid ink to the machine. It’s up to you how much you’d like to add—the squid ink will only give the sausage a dark color, it won’t add flavor.
7. Once everything is incorporated, scrape the pork mixture out of the food processor and into a bowl.
8. Mix in more squid ink if you want an even darker color. You can use a spatula or your hands.
9. Take the black trumpet mushrooms from the rice vinegar in which they were pickling, and add them to the pork mixture. Don’t be afraid to get some of the vinegar in the mixture—it adds a nice flavor.
10. Mix the mushrooms into the pork mixture with a spatula. Don’t worry—you can’t overmix sausage. “You need to taste the mixture to make sure the seasoning’s right,” says Dufour. Yes, we know it’s raw meat, but if you buy it from a good butcher, it’s safe to eat.
STUFFING THE SAUSAGE
Dufour uses a hand-crank sausage stuffer at DBGB. If you’re making sausage at home, you can buy a sausage stuffer attachment for your KitchenAid mixer.
1. Casing usually comes packed in salt when you buy it. Soak the casing in cold water to flush out the salt. Feed the casing onto the tube of your sausage stuffing machine, bunching it up towards the middle, and leave a bit of casing hanging off at the end.
2. Put the pork mixture into the top of your Kitchen Aid machine. Turn the machine on and feed it through.
3. Go slowly until air begins to enter the casing and meat begins to fill the stuffing tube.
4. When the meat has just started to enter the casing, tie off the end with a knot. Make it as tight as you can because you don’t want air pockets in the sausage.
5. Always keep one hand on the casing to guide it, and use the other hand to stuff the meat into the machine. Go slowly; if you don’t, the machine will heat the meat too much, which can create bacteria. Try to keep everything steady and consistent, and let gravity do most of the work.
6. When the entire length of the casing is stuffed, tear the casing off the tube.
7. Now it’s time to make the sausage links, which should be approximately 4.5 inches in length. Place two fingers on the sausage, then take your other hand and place two fingers on the sausage at the other end. Pinch the casing with your fingers to close it on both ends, then twist.
8. Make about five revolutions. “Up, close, jump,” is how Dufour describes the motion. Repeat this process with the remaining length of the sausage.
9. When you’ve made all the links, tie off the end of the sausage.
SMOKING AND BOILING THE SAUSAGE
For smoking the sausage, you will need two hotel pans (one perforated and one regular), as well as an egg crate, regular wood chips, plastic wrap, and a blow torch.
1. Put a piece of egg crate at the bottom of one hotel pan. Pour the wood chips over the crate.
2. Put the perforated hotel pan on top of the solid hotel pan.
3. Arrange the sausage on top of the perforated pan. Then cover the top of the perforated hotel pan with plastic wrap.
4. Lift the top pan up and torch the wood chips. Once smoke is being generated and the wood chips are lit, place the perforated hotel pan back down to create a lid.
5. You’ll see the smoke coming up from the grates. Torch the wood chips a bit more if you’re not seeing enough smoke. Once the wood chips are lit, leave the sausage in the smoker for one hour.
6. Drop the smoked sausage links into a pot of boiling water, then turn the heat off. Stir the water around at the very beginning to make sure the sausages cook evenly. Let the sausages cook for three minutes.
7. Have an ice bath ready to put the sausages in once they’re cooked. Cooling the sausages in the ice bath will make the casing snappy. You can cut one of the sausages open to see if it’s thoroughly cooked.8. Cut the sausage into links.
You can eat the sausage as is, or reheat it on the grill.
If you want to get fancy like DBGB, you can serve the sausage on a black poppy seed bun and top it with black trumpets, black garlic sauce, and caramelized onion for your very own rendition of the Back in Black. If all goes according to plan, it’ll look something like this:
The Back in Black banger at DBGB Kitchen and Bar