Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Many Lives of a Game Hen, Cont'd

Part II: The Bones

I roasted the bones with a mirepoix. Roasting gives more flavour, better colour, and makes a clearer stock.

All the bones of the hen went into the stock except one: the wishbone. While this particular collarbone will not have the same Delphic power as that of the Christmas turkey, it'll still be fun to break.

I deglazed the roasting pan with white wine, added parsley stems and thyme, covered with cold water, and simmered gently, barely bubbling, overnight.

Making stock of a Greens, Eggs, and Ham Cornish game hen
The bulk of the stock went into a chicken soup with onions, carrots, celery, spinach, wild rice, and pan-fried chicken breast.

Chicken soup with wild rice and spinach

Part III: The Trim

I was left with the wings, the kidneys, miscellaneous trim from the ballotine, and some fatty scraps pulled from the carcass. I decided to make a very simple, "essence of chicken" sausage. I seasoned my chicken trim and fat with salt, pepper, sprigs of thyme, and a couple mashed garlic cloves and left the mixture overnight. In the morning I removed the thyme stems and garlic and ground the mixture twice.

The ground trim from the chicken
After grinding, a small amount of liquid is added, and the meat is mixed. This develops a protein called myosin which helps the meat bind and gives the final sausage a good bite. The most commonly used liquids are simple ice water, wine, and vinegar, but since I was trying to focus on the flavour of the game hen, I used some of my stock. Surprisingly, I have never come across a sausage recipe that uses stock. Perhaps most stock is so mild-tasting that it doesn't stand up to the flavour of the meat and fat. Operating on that assumption, I reduced the stock by about 3/4 before chilling and adding to the meat.

Stuffing the ground chicken into casings
The finished sausages


  1. where do you source the casing?

  2. Any company listed in the Yellow Pages under "Butchers' Equipment and Supplies".

    These particular casings were from CTR Refrigeration, which is apparently now closed. Halford's and Butchers and Packers Supplies are my other sources.

    These places also sell meat grinders, sausage stuffers, smokers, wood chips, and, if you're interested in making bacon or pancetta, curing salt.

  3. Would you ever want to try using "old school" casing? Like intestine?

  4. All the sausages on this site are made with natural hog casings aka intestines. I've never tried the "artificial" collagen casings, though I hear they work well.

  5. YEAH!!! I am so happy to her you found the intestine casings in Edmonton! I was worried I would get home and only find the artificial ones. Were they frozen, fresh, or dried? Here (in Bosnia right now) they are everywhere in the fall: fresh, frozen and dried. But, almost impossible to get this time of year, though we managed when we made our fresh Serbian Sausages (yet to post). We will make them again when I get home and get them smoked. Vanja's dad has a smokehouse (everyone in the countryside here does) but, it is used as a summer kitchen at this time of year, so we couldn't smoke any. We didn't make enough, anyway. They were gone in three days. This is something I have always wanted to do - and I am hooked. Vanja has made them all of his life, at home, and had no problem knowing exactly what to do - so am I ever lucky. We will be churning our some mean sausages this fall - for sure! Loved to see how you made these. I totally believe in using everything you can in every way you can. Thus, I love your posts! We left for Paris July 11th and actually have just arrived in Belgrade (Serbia - not Bosnia where we did the sausages) and will be here a few more days. I cannot wait to be home. I love to travel, but it is enough. I am worried about my garden and am just plain tired of being away.
    PS I found out caul fat can be frozen, so will be stocking up when I get home!

  6. Hi Valerie. I just noticed your comment now. Sorry for the delayed response.

    Natural casings are available at butcher supply shops all over Edmonton. The intestines are packed in salt. They keep for a very long time in your fridge, especially if you refresh the salt every now and again.

    I'm enjoying your posts on Europe. Happy travelling.