Homemade Portuguese Sausage

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smoked sausage
With the author supervising at left, Lehia and Brad place strips of marinated boar onto the racks for smoking. Once cooked, the strips will be sliced for serving.

As we clean and assemble my LEM-brand sausage stuffer, I realize that the threaded connector that secures the stuffing tube is missing. Without it, filling the sausages will be almost impossible. Brad dashes to the rescue! Well, really he dashes to the shed, comes back with the PVC fitting from a lawn sprinkler, scrubs it clean and manages to jury-rig the connection. We flush the white, luminescent pig casings with fresh water, and let them soak while we pack the first batch of meat for the sausage snuggly into the expresser canister. I untangle one of the casings and try to stretch it over the tube, but it’s too small.  We switch to a narrower tube. Voila! Carefully, to avoid tearing the delicate casing, I slide it onto the tube. Brad then turns the canister’s crank slowly, and the diced meat begins to fill the casing, until a link a foot long extends from the machine. I show Brad and Lehia how to roll the sausage segments—one forward, the next backward—to create separate links. They move into position, taking turns cranking the handle, pressing out the meat, saying, “Forward . . . backward . . . forward. . . .”

We giggle over our short-term memory failures: “Which way did the last link go?”

Out in the backyard, the kiawe fire burns, smoke pouring from the vents. Brad sets off with loppers in hand to gather a few branches from a guava tree to add to the fire for a sweet and fruity smoked finish. When he returns, I say, “Let’s make sure the fire’s not too hot—no more than two hundred degrees. We want to smoke the meat for at least two hours and we don’t want to dry it out.”

We tend the fire, tossing in green guava branches, creating billowing white clouds of smoke. I’m transported to my childhood. Waiting for the smoked meats to be done was always the hardest part.

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