Author Topic: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue  (Read 2886 times)

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scott123

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Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« on: June 03, 2013, 10:39:09 PM »
This isn't the most groundbreaking realization, and I'm probably not the first person to think of this, but I still thought I'd share it.

Basically, all pork sausage is ground from butt, and butt, being a heavily used muscle, is full of collagen/connective tissue.  Connective tissue requires long wet cooking methods to dissolve, and, until dissolved, collagen can be tough and sinewy.  I slow cook all my pork butt products, but for some reason, I've never thought to slow cook sausage. Since I have, the texture is far more succulent and far less sinewy.

Presently, I've only been simmering it, but I might try some kind of slow roast next.


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2013, 12:58:23 AM »
Interesting. ..I was watching an episode of pizza cuz the other day and one of the pizzerias they visited slow cooked their sausage sous vide.

Offline shattuck

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2013, 01:25:46 AM »
Interesting. ..I was watching an episode of pizza cuz the other day and one of the pizzerias they visited slow cooked their sausage sous vide.
I just saw that episode as well. Gave me some ideas....

Offline norma427

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2013, 06:56:11 AM »
Scott,

I have slow roasted sausage many times (from teachings of my mother) and I do think sausage gets very tender from slow roasting.  I used one of those oval enameled dutch ovens like is pictured below.  What I do is use water to start and then add more water when needed.  Sometimes I have slow roasted sausage for 3 hrs. or more at about 375 degrees F.  The sausage gets browned well using that method.

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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 07:33:41 AM »
Scott:


I see this a bit differently. The tough tissue only needs a long time to break down if you are cooking at low temps. The lower the temp, the longer the process takes. Try a simple experiment: take a small chunk of pork butt, say a 1/2" cube, and deep fry it in 365F oil. It is always tender within a few minutes. I do this all the time for sweet and sour pork - never tough and sinewy.


Also for sausage, grinding has a big impact. I grind brisket flat, one of the orneriest cuts you can find, for burgers. Grilled fast to medium rare, it is always as succulent and tender as a good burger should be.


I've made extremely crappy sausage, usually by messing up the seasonings or fat content, but never from it being tough.  For me, the name of the game is to cook it fast enough so that it is cooked through but not so long that much of the fat has rendered out.


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Offline JD

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 08:24:16 AM »
Since I have, the texture is far more succulent and far less sinewy.

+1

I love a simple italian sausage & meatballs dinner.... I brown the sausage, and then simmer for 1.5 - 2 hours in the sauce and it adds a new dimension. I actually first realized this by accident when I had to extend the cook time (for reasons I don't recall).


A little off topic, but seared baby back ribs in sauce is also pretty unreal. Need to do the same as above so they are falling off the bone.
Josh

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 08:35:08 AM »
I just saw that episode as well. Gave me some ideas....

My first reaction was opposite.  I saw all the juices and fat being lost in the bag and didn't think precooking sausage was a good idea.  You may as well precook pepperoni too if you are going to do that.  I just started making my own sausage and TBH I love the texture.  I don't think softer or more tender would be better.  If someone likes that, you can get that with a fine ground pork, the kind you find at your local grocery store.  Myself, I prefer the coarse grind which I can only find at a specialty shop which gives a bit more texture.  I've only made a few batches but so far I haven't ran across anything tough or sinewy either.   I'm of the camp of putting sausage raw on pizza.   

Offline Fire-n-smoke

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 09:26:03 AM »
When I make my sausage I will trim as much of the sinew and "slime" fat from the meat as possible.  Then I do a double grind; first a large and then a fine.  Never have any complaints.  Also I started making pork sausage using tenderloins which have very little fat and they are very good.  But when I need fat ill use some fat back or salt pork (seasonings do need to be adjusted with that) and they come out great.  I have also smoked the sausage and then used it on pizza, but depends on how much smoke is used and what types of wood.
tom

scott123

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2013, 05:37:00 PM »
I see this a bit differently.

Bill, I think the varying viewpoints/experiences on this topic could relate, in part, to differences between store bought sausage and homemade.  Store bought sausage tends to be pretty coarse and might benefit from some longer cooking.

But your mention of ground beef throws another wrench in my equation.  Ground beef is coming from a similar part of the animal, but I would never think about slow cooking that.  At least not previously.  I do enjoy my 1.5 hour baked meatloaf, but that's entirely different chemistry there.  I'm also a White Castle fan, and they slow cook those for a long time- perhaps there's a collagen aspect to that.

I think I might need to do some testing :)

scott123

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2013, 05:43:03 PM »
The sausage gets browned well using that method.

Norma, sounds good! I might have to give that a try.


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013, 05:57:13 PM »
Bill, I think the varying viewpoints/experiences on this topic could relate, in part, to differences between store bought sausage and homemade.  Store bought sausage tends to be pretty coarse and might benefit from some longer cooking.

I think I might need to do some testing

So which are you using? If store-bought, your assumption about it being made from pork shoulder may be very optimistic. You have no idea what is in that stuff. A lot of sausage is just made from trimmings when primal cuts are broken down. And others .... you've read The Jungle  >:D.



Offline dhorst

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2013, 06:05:39 PM »
My first reaction was opposite.  I saw all the juices and fat being lost in the bag and didn't think precooking sausage was a good idea.  You may as well precook pepperoni too if you are going to do that.  I just started making my own sausage and TBH I love the texture.  I don't think softer or more tender would be better.  If someone likes that, you can get that with a fine ground pork, the kind you find at your local grocery store.  Myself, I prefer the coarse grind which I can only find at a specialty shop which gives a bit more texture.  I've only made a few batches but so far I haven't ran across anything tough or sinewy either.   I'm of the camp of putting sausage raw on pizza.   
I'm also in the camp of putting sausage raw on pizza.  I haven't ever had an issue with it being tough. 

I also make chicken sausage with thighs--yeah, yeah, sacriledge you pork lovers, but it comes out really great.  I don't trim the fat off, I use a boatload of blanched garlic, fennel seed, oregano, aleppo, of course, some asiago and wine and a bit of olive oil.  I've been thinking about freezing the olive oil and then breaking it into bits and folding it into the mixture.  Bah.  An experiment for tomorrow perhaps while the ribs are slow roasting for the boys.

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2013, 06:17:01 PM »
Just this past weekend I made pasta sauce and threw a sausage link in for a little extra flavor. The sausage was very tender at the end of the long cook,but all the flavor had been cooked out. It's the same concept as when you make soup. You throw in a chicken caress and some extra pieces to get the flavor, but after cooking the meat is rendered flavorless.
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scott123

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2013, 06:37:58 PM »
And others .... you've read The Jungle  >:D.

I've purposely not read The Jungle because I want to enjoy my store bought sausage in blissful ignorance  ;D

Seriously, though, these days, I think the idea of sausage containing strange animal parts is a bit of a myth. There's a demand for the strange bits. Butchers can make more money selling strange parts by themselves rather than hiding them in the sausage.

Even if store-bought sausage isn't pure shoulder, the odds that the non-shoulder parts are collagen rich are extremely high, so I think slow cooking is still the answer.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 06:42:55 PM by scott123 »

scott123

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2013, 06:41:48 PM »
Just this past weekend I made pasta sauce and threw a sausage link in for a little extra flavor. The sausage was very tender at the end of the long cook,but all the flavor had been cooked out. It's the same concept as when you make soup. You throw in a chicken caress and some extra pieces to get the flavor, but after cooking the meat is rendered flavorless.

I think there's a cooking approach that might soften the connective tissue/create the tenderness while still maintaining flavor- such as the one Norma outlined.

Now, just to be clear, when I say 'sinewy', it's not like gnawing on a piece of steak gristle. There's just, to me, a distinctly more tender quality to slower cooked coarsely ground pork.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2013, 07:19:40 PM »
My first reaction was opposite.  I saw all the juices and fat being lost in the bag and didn't think precooking sausage was a good idea.  You may as well precook pepperoni too if you are going to do that.  I just started making my own sausage and TBH I love the texture.  I don't think softer or more tender would be better.  If someone likes that, you can get that with a fine ground pork, the kind you find at your local grocery store.  Myself, I prefer the coarse grind which I can only find at a specialty shop which gives a bit more texture.  I've only made a few batches but so far I haven't ran across anything tough or sinewy either.   I'm of the camp of putting sausage raw on pizza.
I grew up on Chicago fennel Italian sausage....it has to be a 'lil chunky and chewy and greasy; that's the part that makes you want to close your eyes and smile.  :)
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2013, 07:38:26 PM »
That is what I am talking about and what kenji's recipe makes.  I've also read about adding a bit of red or white wine during the mixing phase.  How does kenji's recipe compare to Chicago sausage Bob?

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2013, 07:46:04 PM »
That is what I am talking about and what kenji's recipe makes.  I've also read about adding a bit of red or white wine during the mixing phase.  How does kenji's recipe compare to Chicago sausage Bob?
Kenji who.... ???
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Offline dhorst

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Re: Italian Sausage and Connective Tissue
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2013, 07:50:45 PM »
That is what I am talking about and what kenji's recipe makes.  I've also read about adding a bit of red or white wine during the mixing phase.  How does kenji's recipe compare to Chicago sausage Bob?

There's a place in Utica, NY--Roma Sausage & Deli that makes some wonderful wine and cheese sausage along with some great Italian sausage of varying heat.  They also make some great tomato pies.  DMC (dave cavanagh) and I have met there a couple of times.  The last time we hit there, we actually were helping out the transportation of a cute little dachshund who lost his owner in an accident and was headed up to Canada for a new home.  We exchanged flour, cheese and the little guy and scored some great tomato pies, sausage and meatballs at the drop.  Weird?  Maybe, but fun and for a great cause. 

Anyway, I think a bit of wine is great in sausage.  I also like to braise sausage in beer and then get a bit of browning on it at the end.



 

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