See Part 1
I can’t believe I’m attempting to draw for you again, but the tying is the most important part of the process. I good knot is the difference between delicious chouriço and charred ashy bits of pork.
Before you do anything with the filled sausage, take a safety-pin and poke it full of little holes. This vents any air pockets and prevents bursting.
Bring the strings of the tied-off end around to the open end. Close to where the meat is filled to, tie two tight knots. Take the remaining empty length of tripe, fold it back on your knots, open it, and tie another two knots, making sure to go back around the sausage each time. Cut the ends of the sting short. At the opposite point of you now sausage-circle, pinch the meat between your fingers to create a bit of room. With a new piece of string, tie a tight double knot.
Some members of my family disagree, but my grandmother is adamant that the sausages hang over night; giving them a chance to start drying out. To do this, we set up brooms and rakes between two chairs to hang the sausages from, and lay news paper underneath to catch the drips.
It’s smoking day! At the end of every year we say that next time we will get a proper smoker, and then ever year we just drag out the old steel barrels. These barrels have been cleaned out and had notches cut into them for rods. I have no idea where to get barrels if you don’t have a barrel guy. Good luck finding a barrel guy. You you should probably just use a proper smoker. Like we will. Next time. Maybe.
My mom put tin foil all around the rim because she didn’t like the sausages touching the rusty metal, but everything is getting so hot it’s all sterile anyway so don’t bother. Get the fire going with some wood and kindling, then dump half a bag of coal in there. You want it hot and smokey, not blazing.
Thread the sausages on the rods, spaced about and inch apart. We do 3 rods per barrel, between 7-10 sausages per rod. We had two barrels going!
Cover, and let smoke away for 4 hours. Every 15 minuets or so, using tongs and a fire mitt, flip each sausage-circle.
This is what they look like about half way done:
Once they are thoroughly smoked (dry and toasty looking) lay them somewhere to cool. When they can be handled, wipe them clean with damp paper towels, and using use a good set of kitchen shears, cut the knots making each sausage-circle into two sausages.
Here they are in all their glory! Fry them up to eat on a bun, grill them, roast them, add them to soup, stew, stuffing, fish, seafood, bake it directly into bread. Really there isn’t much in Portuguese cuisine that doesn’t have at least a small slice of chouriço in it. It adds so much flavour to everything, and is salty and delicious all on its own.
To keep these for up to two years, you have to wrap them up very well; first in a layer of plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and then freeze them. If you can, place the wrapped sausages in an airtight container before freezing. Defrost as needed!
Although this is a long, tedious, 3 day process, the reward is a two-year supply of sausage that cost half as much as the store-bought stuff, and tastes twice as good! It also mean we know exactly what has gone into our food. I used to feel guilty about eating chouriço, thinking, like hot dogs, I didn’t want to know what was in there. But all it is is some very lean pork, garlic, and seasoning. The result is an authentic taste you just can’t get any other way.