Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making sausages and quenelles

Italian style sausage, linguini, dandelion greens
Quenelles de truite
French style garlic sausage

The garde-manger class might be affecting me. This is where we learn to make sausages, mousseline, patés, galantines... After only a few short weeks, I no longer see things like pieces of roast or fillets of fish the same way. I have this strange desire to grind them up and transform them into something else. The sausages started out this morning as a piece of pork shoulder. The photo of the quenelles de truite was done in class, but I redid the recipe at home yesterday just to make sure I had all the steps down. So, a trout was filleted, boned, skinned and ground up with some other stuff and piped into boiling salted water, then baked with some nice white wine sauce to make quenelles.  Very French.

One thing I discovered was that making things into sausages and quenelles stretches them out quite a bit. Two trout fillets are more than enough to feed three people, since there are other things (like butter, some more butter, and then a bit of butter, and some cream, and some butter) that stretch them out. So, one meager trout, transformed into quenelles, can easily feed four people. Especially if they consume a lot of freshly baked baguettes first.

It's not that this wasn't anticipated. I found some natural sausage casings at Claro's Market in L.A. and couldn't resist. The thing is that I don't have a meat grinder (yet) so I have to process the meat in a food processor, which tends to make it come out too fine and pasty even when it's ice cold. I don't have a sausage attachment or anything fancy like that either - I have a funnel and a spoon handle. Slow but it gets the job done, although the meat in the casing has to be peristaltically arranged so that the casing is not overstuffed. Kind of like milking a goat, actually.

Trout-Salmon quenelles
These are like skinless sausages that you pipe out into boiling water, then finish in the oven with a sauce. Don't be shocked at the amount of butter and cream you'll use. This is classic French food, so just watch some Julia Child videos if you want to be comforted about the butter.


1 lb Fresh, never frozen trout (I'm using trout instead of salmon because it's supposedly sustainably farmed). Ice crystals made during freezing rupture the cells and make the fish unsuitable for making mousseline.
3 Egg whites
1 1/2 cup Heavy cream
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg to taste
4 Shrimp (this can be frozen, since it's just for flavor). Cook, chop into 1/4" cubes and chill.
3 oz Panade, in this case pâte à choux made with milk instead of water, then chilled.
Ice cubes, about 4-5.

Sauce (quantities are approximate)
1 Tbsp flour
2 oz Whole milk or cream
1 Shallot, finely chopped
Some fresh thyme leaves (optional)
8 oz Fish or shrimp stock
4 oz Dry white wine
Salt, Pepper to taste

  1. Trim any major bones off the fish fillets, skin them if needed, and cut into cubes. I left the pin bones in since they were going to be ground finely - and this was trout, not salmon (I'd remove them for salmon).
  2. I like to grind some ice cubes in the food processor. This gets everything nice and cold. I then either use the crushed ice for cocktails or discard it.
  3. Put the fish and cold panade into a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
  4.  Purée the fish/panade mixture.
  5. Add the egg whites and process until smooth
  6. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. You'll need more salt than you think, but don't skimp. The salt is required to alter the protein structure of the fish. If you used enough, the fish will form itself into a ball when you process it; if not, it will remain a purée.
  7. Add cream in a stream with the food processor running.
  8. Mix in the shrimp cubes.
  9. Taste for seasoning and adjust before you cook the quenelles - you can cook a spoonful in some boiling salted water.
  1. Sauté the shallots in some butter until they're translucent.
  2. Make a roux with the flour and butter.
  3. Add white wine to deglaze, then add the stock, salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce down so there's not much liquid left.
  5. Add the thyme leaves.
  6. Reduce the heat, add the cream slowly, tasting as you go. 
  7. Adjust seasoning as needed, and reserve sauce.
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Boil water in a fairly deep pot, add salt when it boils.
  3. Butter a shallow ramekin and set aside
  4. Place the mousseline in a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain tip.
  5. Pipe the mousseline into the boiling water, straight down. Cut off 3 to 4 inch sections (depending on the size of your ramekins) with a thin knife, skewer or anything that doesn't stick to the mousseline. If you pipe it at an angle, the quenelles will be curved instead of straight.
  6. Reduce the heat so that the quenelles just simmer in the water. They're ready when they're firm.
  7. Fish the quenelles out with a spider (cook-ese for a wire strainer/spoon) and place them in the ramekin.
  8. Pour the sauce over the quenelles - you don't need much. It's just there to give them a nice thick coating and add flavor.
  9. Bake in a bain-marie for about 15-20 minutes until the quenelles just start to show some color. A bain-marie is just a shallow pan filled with water, into which you place the ramekins. Its function is to keep the cream based sauce from getting too hot yet allow the tops of the quenelles to brown a bit.
  10. Serve immediately - if you have nice small ramekins, just place them onto a serving plate with a nice garnish and voilà.

No comments:

Post a Comment