One of the defining factors of a British banger is the filler. With few exceptions (the Cumberland being one) our sausage recipes incorporate some rusk which soaks up the fat and produces the lovely, softer bite of a decent local sausage. Sure it was taken to extremes in days of want (the war springs to mind) and still is by peddlers of the low grade pink paste tubes but a reasonable quantity is a must in most recipes.
The same can't be said abroad were the pure meat sausage rules the roost. This leads to a much firmer sausage which isn't better, just different. With no rusk to soak up the fat these sausages are frequently pricked to stop them exploding whilst being cooked but I hate to see good fat go down the drain and I think with careful control of heat, and a bit of luck, you can get away without doing this.
Recently in Catalunya I had many a butifarra, the local snag (which in most cases the driving force in the flavour is black pepper), but whilst they came with chips or simply on the side of a rotisserie chicken I couldn't find the dish of Butifarra amb Mongetes (with white beans) and so I vowed to make it at home. As butifarra are near as damn it impossible to buy over here this meant finding a recipe and dusting off the sausage stuffer. I'm glad I did as I'd forgot how good fun sausage making is, not to mention the pleasure of the results.
As mentioned these butifarra have a predominant black pepper taste but there is also a hint of sweetness from the cinnamon and clove. They're a nice simple sausage to make, so perfect for the beginner, and go well in a crusty baguette, with chips and a salad or with those white beans, something which will follow on the blog soon after I make it tonight.
With sausage making it's imperative that everything is very cold, this means meat and equipment. As soon as things start heating up the fat melts and smears and the texture of the finished product goes down hill rapidly. With this in mind meat, bowls, stuffer and mincer all spend some time in the fridge prior to starting out.
It is also imperative that there is enough fat on your meat, I've said 25% but I think that's a minimum, some people go higher. For this rusk-free sausage (so nothing to soak the fat up) I think 25% is good though. Some folk use belly for sausage making, and I have myself in the past, as the quantities of fat and lean can be good. I think shoulder is a better texture though if you can find it fatty enough (you can always add back fat from loin chops) but belly would still turn out a decent butifarra.
900gr pork shoulder (25% fat) in 4cm cubes
3-4gr black peppercorns (1 - 1.5 ts)
Scant 1/4 ts ground cinnamon
3 TB ice water
Natural hog casings
The butifarra is a coarse ground sausage (aren't all the good ones?) so choose your biggest mincer attachment and give the well chilled meat a single grind into a chilled bowl.
Grind the black pepper, clove and cinnamon with a pestle and mortar, I find the addition of a bit of the salt helps, and once fine combine with the remaining salt and spread over the mince. Add the 3 TB of ice water and mix to combine, I use a fork to save warming the mix up with my hands. Once well mixed run the mince through the mincer a second time.
If you've never used natural skins before you need to soak them for a couple of hours to remove salt, you also want to run water through the inside a couple of times to clean. Once prepared thread onto your sausage maker spout and stuff your sausages.
The butifarra I ate in Catalunya are larger than a British banger, more like 12cm (c. 110gr), so twist off bigger links.
Chill in the fridge for a day to dry, turning occasionally if - like me - there's nowhere near enough room in the fridge to hang them.