The Idiot Gardener

WARNING: This site contains information on gardening, brewing, curing meat,

building shit and hunting, all done in a piss-poor manner. It is not suitable for the

feeble-minded, the weak and lame, those of a nervous disposition, vegans and

vegetarians (and those other ones that only eat fish and the occasional bacon

sandwich - I think they're called 'hypocrites'), those who practice any

manner of folk singing or dancing, people named Colin or fans of Barry Gibb.

Texas Hot Guts – a work in progress

Texas Hot Guts are a sausage of legendary standing. Originating in Elgin, Texas, the actual recipe is a closely guarded secret, and as imitations spring up, so their recipes are also closely guarded secrets. Now, here’s the thing: I am on a mission to create what is – for me – the perfect Texas Hot Gut. Do I care if it’s an exact replica of the Elgin version? No, I do not, as long as it works for me. Do I care if it lacks that authentic Texan ‘thing’? No, I do not, as long as it works for me. Do I care if anyone knows my recipe?

I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul that the original Elgin Hot Guts weren’t original. Even since man has been cutting up flesh and stuffing it into the innards of animals, all ‘originality’ in the sausage world has been a misnomer. There were beef sausages, with chilli, before Elgin even existed, and there will be beef sausages with chilli until the end of time.

That said, I think this recipe is pretty good, even if I say so myself (which I do, and that’s all that matters to me).

First off, let’s talk beef. I tend to use a mixture of chuck steak and either brisket tail or short ribs. Both of the latter have a decent proportion of fat, so I tend to use whichever I have the most of. I get my beef on the bone, hung from 28 days right up to 40 days. This is because I tend to prefer well aged beef for smoking, and the leftovers go into the Texas Hot Guts. I tend to use around 60/40 ratio in favour of the fattier cuts.

Now, I’ve heard some people talk about adding pork fat, but for me pork fat – whilst tasty – is too soft for these sausages. I prefer the heavier steakier taste of beef fat, which when slow smoked has a depth that pork fat simply cannot touch. If you want to use pork fat (and why would you) increase the amount of chuck steak, or use all chuck steak and pork fat to a 70/30 ratio.

Typically, making Hot Guts is a five day process. On day one I make the chipotle sauce and the meat mix, on day two it rests in the fridge, and on day three it goes into the casings. On day four it rests again, and on day five it gets hot smoked. If you’re an organised control freak type person, you could do some of the steps in advance, or cut down on the resting, but what’s the point of making sausages if you’re not going to do it properly?

A word of advice to those who haven’t read my recipes before. I tend to work on the basis of all measurements being made for 1kg of meat and fat combined. That just means I can simply scale for each batch. I tend to work with what meat I have, so batches vary from 3 to 6kg! You will need to know the amount of meat you’ll be using to calculate the chipotle sauce amounts, or you can just make a big batch of the sauce and freeze the remainder in pots!

To make the sauce, for each kilo of meat multiply the following amounts. Take 40g of dried chipotles and remove the seeds. Soften the flesh in warm water, and while you do put the seeds into a grinder and whizz the living shit out of them. When the chipotle flesh is soft, chuck it in a blender with the ground seeds, a tablespoon of good cider vinegar (or white malt), a couple of cloves of garlic, half an shallot and a pinch of brown sugar. Now use enough of the water the chipotles soaked in to make a decent paste, and fire up the blender.

Next, bone your beef (if on the Bone), chunk it up and mince on a coarse plate. Make sure it’s cold, even partly frozen, when you mince it or the fat might smear.

Now, here’s a contentious point! Some reports of Texas Hot Guts mention the use of tripe. Others don’t. A straw poll of Texans reveals around two thirds against tripe and one third for it. In truth, I asked three Texans; they’re not too common in the South East of England! I made one batch without tripe, and another included 200g of tripe per kilo of meat. I prefer it with the tripe. The taste isn’t changed, but it has a better texture in my opinion, and that’s all that counts. If you are anti-tripe, just omit it. That said, it’ll be better if you include it!

Next add the chipotle sauce, and for every kilogram of meat add 100ml of beer or rough red wine (I use a very hoppy homebrewed IPA, but that’s my taste), 10g coarse salt, 10g brown sugar, 2.5g ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, two garlic cloves and 10g of English mustard. On my next batch I’m going to try adding some grated fresh horseradish too! I’ll probably go for around 20g per kilo.

Now, mix it all up, by hand – you don’t want too much washing up, plus only freaks mix meat with utensils – and bang it into the fridge. You can cover it, or leave it to make the whole fridge smell of meat and chilli. I do the latter.

Leave it to rest for a day, and then make yourself a patty and fry it off. The final product is slow smoked, so this will only let you check the seasoning. It will also be spicier than the final product. If you think anything needs changing, do it now! Then stuff the mixture into hog casings using your preferred stuffing method. Place the sausages on a rack, or hang them – you want them to dry – and back into the fridge they go.

Once dried, I hot smoke mine at around 94C (200F) for two to two and one half hours. I tend to use Mesquite, although Oak has also been recommended. If when you cut into them a pool of orange grease appears, you’re ready to eat!

That’s it. Now piss off and make some!

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