meet in your kitchen | Making sausages with Simon, The Sausage Man Never Sleeps
by eat in my kitchen
It was one of the last warm evenings in early October when I met Simon from The Sausage Man Never Sleeps for the first time. He had a stand at Berlin’s first Stadt Land Food Festival and was about to close down for the day. I spotted a selection of coarse sausages in his display, the kind I got hooked on since I lived in England a few years ago. When I read the names of his creations I couldn’t help talking to him. Apricot, hazelnuts and cream cheese, apple and sage, or tomato, fennel and mozzarella sausage, doesn’t that sound heavenly? That’s exactly what I love to have on my breakfast table on a Sunday morning with some fried eggs, beans and bacon. This man offered what I had been looking for in this city for years! I had to learn more about his products, maybe make some sausages together so I asked if I could visit him in his kitchen.
At 5 am (!) the following week we had a date. The city was still dark and quiet when I jumped on my bike, ready to watch my laid-back gourmet butcher from New Zealand prepare his new batch of sausages for the day. While he was stuffing the skins with the various fillings which he had mixed earlier at night before my arrival, we spoke about his journey that took him from the other side of the world (from a European perspective) to London and finally to Berlin. Here, he decided to live his dream and make his own sausages. He started working at a butcher shop which is coincidentally in my area and my favourite place for meat. At the Erchinger Fleisch und Wurstmanufaktur in Prenzlauer Berg, Simon finished his education to get the qualifications for the German market and he also became friends with the owner. Butcher Jörg Erchinger who took over the shop a few years ago, totally supports the young man and his visions. He believes in his unique products which have recently been featured by the renowned Feinschmecker magazine. Simon uses the rooms, machines and tools of the shop for his own production which he offers at the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg and other special food events. If you want to stay updated about the latest The Sausage Man Never Sleeps projects, you can visit his website or Facebook.
I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to get these delicious sausages fried to perfection by the butcher himself. We couldn’t meet at his kitchen at home as the house is too dark for photos, so he took over mine. After a well deserved coffee for the sleepless sausage man and some hazelnuts that he spotted on my window-sill, we got down to frying. He cooked his work of the morning in a little butter and oil for about 10 minutes until the sausages were golden brown but still juicy. They were so good, I didn’t want to have them with anything else, I just enjoyed them and their pure flavours. I’m so happy that Simon offered to share one of his secrets with all of us, the recipe for his gourmet Apple and Sage Sausages!
Simon’s Gourmet Apple and Sage Sausages
pork belly, boned and skinned (approx. 20% fat), 1kg / 2 pounds
apples, peeled, cored and diced in 1/2cm / 1/4″ cubes, 2
salt 15g / 3 leveled teaspoons
cracked pepper 1g / a pinch
fresh sage, chopped, 2g / 4 leaves
natural pork sausage skins
Mince the pork through a 1/2cm / 1/4″ mincing plate, add the salt and mix by hand until it sticks to itself (3-4 minutes). Add the apple, pepper and sage and mix throughly.
Fill into skins but not too full so you can tie off sausages. Tie off sausages with thumb and forefinger, cut in the middle of the twist which should be about 1cm / 1/2″ long.
Shelf life of 2-3 days in the fridge or can be frozen if made from fresh meat.
Give your pan a medium heat, a squirt of oil, a dob of butter and heat until foamy. Pop sausages in the pan (there is no need to prick them first). Turn and baste in the pan juice until golden brown (9-10 minutes).
You started an apprenticeship at a butcher at 16 but only started working as one 14 years later. Why did you wait so long and what drew you back to this craft?
After completing my apprenticeship as a butcher I was looking for the next challenge and an opportunity came up to work in a freezing works (BIG Abbotoir) as a supervisor in a lamb cutting room. 10 years later after various office jobs in the food industry I found myself in London at the start of the recession with little chance of finding an office job in the food industry. Going back to being a butcher was the obvious choice. Leaving and getting back into hands on butcher work was not planned, it was opportunities that came along.
You grew up in New Zealand, lived and worked as a butcher in London and you have now started your own sausage business here in Berlin. What are the differences in sausage making in these three countries?
The basis of New Zealand sausages has an English theme as it was colonised by the British in the 19th century. New Zealand butchers have a lot of interesting flavour combinations in their sausages which is quite an inspiration for me. British sausages generally have more simple flavour combinations and are mainly pork based. German sausages are good and there is a huge range available, German sausages are world renowned as the best in the world.
Do you have a sausage philosophy?
Yes, keep it simple, use good quality ingredients and don’t add too much salt.
How do you develop new sausage recipes? What inspires you?
Trial and error, combining flavours that complement each other, that don’t overpower each other, using different textures to create interesting combinations that are more than just flavour and moisture.
Your company is called ‘The Sausage Man Never Sleeps’, is that what a butcher’s life is really like?
Not really, apart from Christmas time working in a butcher’s shop, usually that means 15 hour days for a while. The name was inspired by the New Zealand sausage man who I worked with at Lidgates in London. Most of the butcher’s shops I’ve worked in are 6am starts, I love that time of day, especially in the warmer months!
What do you miss about New Zealand in general but also when it comes to food?
I miss my friends and family, especially my nephews. I miss sea fishing and eating what you catch the same day, walking in the bush (forest) and the Southern Alps.
I’m a big fan of New Zealand Beef, Lamb and Venison. My father was a farmer and in his business he has a lot of contact with farmers, so his freezers (3 of them) are always full of the tastiest home killed and hunted meat you would find in the world. Also he has a massive vegetable garden, so it’s always a treat being at my parents’ house. And last but not least, Dimitrie’s Souvolaki in Christchurch has the best Souvolaki ever…
How often do you use your kitchen at home, do you like to cook?
I love to cook but since I started my business I have had not as much time to cook. Nothing better than getting friends round and all pitching in to make an epic feast!
What was the first dish you cooked on your own, what is your first cooking memory?
My first memory of cooking is making mud cakes in the garden and the first dish I cooked was heating up frozen fries and a hot dog (in New Zealand this is a battered pre-cooked sausage on a stick), I was about 6 years old.
What are your favourite places to buy and enjoy food in Berlin?
Markthalle Neun, Eurogida, The Dairy, Antipodes, Oma Marnie’s Pie Bakery, Erchinger Fleisch und Wurstmanufaktur, and Gemüse Kebab Shop on Kastanienallee.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am starting in the Breakfast Market in the Markthalle Neun on the 16th of November, it is on the third Sunday of every month. Later I want to also get into Streetfood Thursday. Eventually I want to have my own production place where I can make sausages 24 hours a day.
Why did you choose Berlin as a place to live and work?
After living in London I needed to get out of the rat race, Berlin was the perfect choice.
What did you choose to share on eat in my kitchen?
Here’s a recipe for Apple and Sage Sausages.
If you could choose one person to cook a meal for you, who and what would it be?
Jamie Oliver, Scottish entrecôte steak, eggs and chips.
You’re going to have ten friends over for a spontaneous dinner, what will be on the table?
A massive vegan curry, rice, Raita and Turkish bread, a couple of salads, one including bacon. Whatever sausages I have in the freezer for the meat eaters.
What was your childhood’s culinary favourite and what is it now?
Mum’s homemade lasagna with garlic bread and a leafy salad. Now, I have no idea. I like all food, except mustard, I am allergic to it. Actually I’m about to cook a full English for some friends, that’s one of my favourites… great way to start the day.
Do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?
Cooking with others is preferred, although I find cooking alone fine as long as I have some good music to listen to.
Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?
Which meal would you never cook again?
Homemade falafel, it’s so frustrating cooking without a deep fryer!
Thank you Simon!