Venison had arrived recently from Buffalo, bloody and swaddled in medical packaging. Elk and oryx had been hunted in Montana, skillfully butchered and dispatched with haste to New York state. My freezer had swallowed up all feral meats gratefully.
Today, events conspired. It's my day off. I have all this game. I have a sixer of Montreal's finest St. Ambroise ale. It's snowing outside and the tree is up, lights a-twinkling. I'm in a seasonal mood. I want to make sausages. But I want to make something for the Christmas table. We have 13 people coming round. How can I turn 4lbs of stag and antelope into delicious sausages, replete with seasonal twist and oodles of cheer?
Piece of piss.
Soak about 1 metre of natural sausage casing in warm water to get rid of some of the salt it no doubt came in. Run some water through the lumen of the skin too, to wash the salt from the inside. Let it soak some more while you have a beer and get the rest of your gear together.
Take 1lb each of ground venison, oryx and fatty pork sausage meat and whack in into a big, cold bowl. Add: 1 tbsp kosher salt, a few twists of the pepper mill, 1 tsp red chilli flake, 3 loving spoonfuls of Tiptree finest mincemeat, 2 tbsp Chivers or Frank Cooper's orange marmalade, about a tsp dried thyme, 2 tbsp unsalted butter and mix like Billy-O with your hands, punching the meat and squeezing the mixture through tensed fingers. Get it all mixed in, go on. Get 'postal' on it. (If you're feeling really fruity, you can bang in a few drops of Drambuie, like I did.) Test the mixture for seasoning and fat content by frying a little bit in olive oil. If it's good and to Sir's liking, you can move on to stage 2.
Take care to make sure the mixture stays chilled (a cold mixture restricts bacterial growth) and even put the bowl in the freezer for a few to chill it again. If you do this, you'll time to pop open another cool beer and pat yourself on the back.
When the mixture is cold, set up your sausage apparatus. (I tend to keep the non electrical parts of the sausage machine in the fridge or freezer, to keep them cold. They won't warm the mixture when it's passed through into the skins.) Load up yer nozzle with the casing, push enough sausage to the front of the nozzle so you don't end up with an air banger, and switch her on. If you're careful and not too pissed, you'll end up with about 1 metre of delicious, inspired Christmas-flavoured sausage. It does help when using a sausage stuffer if you have a sober buddy with you who can do the plunging or the forming bit.
Let the buggers chill, wrapped in butcher paper, in the fridge for a day or two to let the flavours meld. I will leave mine in the fridge today and bang 'em in the freezer tomorrow. The eating will take place on Dec 25th, of course, and they will flank a delicious roasted goose.