** apologies in advance to any vegan / vegetarian / meat afraid readers out there **

Finally, last Sunday was SALAMI DAY!
Dani’s family are Italian and pride themselves on making a mean homestyle salami that has been the family recipe for god knows how many years.
We have got our hands dirty for the last few years at her uncle Nick’s house on a cold night in June / July, but this year with the ever expanding family we decided to branch off an host a Maugeri / Phillips salami day so that we don’t keep on crowding more friends and family into Nick and Rosa’s basement.

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Most of the gang getting rrrready to rrrrumble.

This year we had to keep the numbers a little low as we weren’t 100% sure we knew what we were doing or how many people would fit in our kitchen, but now that we’ve done it once we want to do a big communal batch next winter, and you’re all invited (just RSVP before May 2011).

The whole process begins with the peppers… 4kg of capsicums that get cooked down to a kilogram or so of intense puree a few days before the meat arrives.
No photos of this bit, but you can imagine…. It’s very red and smells like capsicum.

Click through for all the meaty goodness, or scroll past if you’re just here for the shoes and jewels…


Next up is the meat mixing, this year we used 20 kilograms ( !! ) of pork sourced from Steve at Alec Watson and Sons in the Vic Market.
They’re just inside the front door of the Meat section, to your right, and they’re great people…
He supplied us with a mixture of leg and shoulder meat, minced it up and got us 30 meters of ‘casings’ (intestines) for the sausage skins.

Sunday morning saw us up at 8am and out in the as-cold-as-possible and cleaned and bleached everywhere kitchen (ie. No heater, windows open) to mix up the filling.

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… the images are small, but if you look hard you can see my “good morning” affogato ready to go.

The recipe is along the lines of meat + capsicum + chili flakes + 3% salt + fennel seeds if you like ‘em.
Exact numbers aren’t how it goes, it’s more of a “it needs more so and so” recipe that you mix up, fry off a small amount to taste and adjust… like any good family recipe, it’s more about the look and feel than the numbers.

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With the meat cold from the fridge we mix it all up… toughing out the cold until the numbness sets in.
Once it’s all mixed the family technique is to smash it against the table a dozen times … I have deduced that this is to either ‘get the air out’ or to make the mixture stickier so it binds better… not sure which, but I know enough to go easy on the questions when it comes to tradition…

Then it’s all back in to the fridge until sausage making time.
If it’s cold enough you can leave it out wrapped in cling film, but Sunday was nice and sunny, so we didn’t want to risk any poisoning conditions.

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Tahlia + Dani and Jen (with a new hairdo)

The family arrived, our beautiful niece Tahlia stole the show for a while and I made a batch of fresh pasta.
Apparently “Uncle Steve” is quite mesmerizing, so I sometimes slip away so other people can get some of Tahlia’s attention, but I cant resist for long, she’s too awesome.

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fresh semolina pasta using our pal Wilde’s ‘warmed eggs and a well in your flour’ technique

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…along with a few burgers made from the salami mixture (with fresh bread it is possibly the best bbq food EVER)…

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Dani’s brother Anthony donned the ‘Steve Special’ apron and cooked up a storm…

After lunch we got on with the sausage filling…… which is about 2 or 3 hours of :

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1. Slide the casing on the machine (make rude jokes and gestures, mum’s roll their eyes)…

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2. Pipe in the filling (make more rude jokes)…

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3. Tie the knots + box ’em up (whilst telling people they’re not doing it right in a Tony Soprano voice)

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4. Repeat…(and drink more of Tom’s home brew beer)

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This one’s for you Tom, an 8% strength “Diavola” went down a treat when I was working hard, and it got me double drunk in half the time…

We finished up at about 6pm boozy, tired and a little bit over the Dean Martin Greatest Hits album that was on repeat for the whole afternoon, but happy!
First job Monday morning was to make some sort of hanging zone for 100 + sausages in a nice cold, dry, airy space so that they will cure nice and slowly and not get moist, crusty or mouldy.

I must be approaching middle age / dad territory, as there seems to be nothing that I can’t make, repair or prop up with the old “screws and misc bits of wood” technique.

This time it was 3 random pieces of wood, a few hundred nails and voila, a ceiling mounted salami zone!

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Dani and I hung our prized property up, collected the 6 or so bunches that slipped out of their strings (loose knots seem to be the only ‘amateur’ problem we’ve found so far – usually Auntie Rosa does the knots, and she has some lifelong skills that we are yet to obtain) we retied the knots and now we wait…….. for a few months….. sigh.

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We also prepared a bit of pancetta / prosciutto (salt cured pork belly) but that was a bit more experimental so we won’t know if it has worked or not for a month or so.
Note Dani’s dad  doing the perfect “you’re probably doing it wrong” face there.

After getting a bit of vertigo from climbing the ladder I crashed out and achieved a big lot of nothing for the rest of the day – which sucks when I only have 2 weekdays to make shoes…
It will all be worth it though when we have a big box of sausages to feed our guests with over the summer!

Listening to : Dean Martin – the perfect backdrop to a day of salami stuffing…