Sausages need a casing.
That conclusion was reached while considering a naked and unappealing cylinder of poached salmon paste. It might've been acceptable had it not been about to be presented as a sausage.
Clearly, it needed a casing. The casing needed to be vegetarian. And with service quickly approaching, it needed to be fast.
Looking at vegetables to encase the sausage, there were two ways to go about it: wrapping or stuffing. Stuffing into a seamless casing was aesthetically preferable, but short of whitling a long, thin tube from a vegetable, there were no quick or easy alternatives that I could think of.
Wrapping, by far, offered the most doable options. Blanched leaves were considered, but rejected for their unwanted color and opacity. Translucent paper-thin sheets (which would have required breaking out the mad knife skillz) of potato, cucumber, zucchini, or daikon seemed the way to go, until a simpler technique involving leeks sprung to mind. The technique, as learned from a chef long ago was as follows:
Trim the top and roots off of a long, fat leek. Cut halfway through the leeks lengthwise and dislodge the outer layers. Blanch, shock, and lay the leek sheets flat. Pipe the filling on the leek sheet, roll tightly around filling to encase, tie ends with string, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and poach in barely simmering water.
With the leeks trimmed, I made the first cut. It wasn't until I began seperating the layers that I realized my folly: I was making a sheet to avoid making a tube, yet I had cut through a tube to make a sheet.
And that's how the most perfect vegetable casing that Nature could provide had almost eluded me.
These sausages are a great way to use up trimmings. The flecks of smoked salmon give it a more dimensional flavor, as would the addition of fresh herbs, dried spice, grated aromatics, etc. They can be served hot, cold, or finished in a pan with butter.
500g salmon, cut into chunks and well chilled
130g cold cream cheese, cut into chunks
70g smoked salmon, minced and chilled
casings: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the root end off of the leeks and cut the tops where they begin to seperate and turn green. Drop the leeks into the boiling water and remove after 3 minutes. Using a dishtowel, pull the outer layer of the hot leeks up and over the tops until they're free. If they don't slide off easily, return to the boiling water for another minute or two. Repeat until you have enough casings to hold the filling, about 6- 8, depending on their width and length.
filling: Place the salmon in the bowl of a food processor. Process in short bursts, scraping bowl 2-3 times, until reduced to a smooth paste. Distribute the cream cheese and salt over the top of paste and process again in short bursts, until the cream cheese is no longer distinguishable. Scrape paste into a bowl and fold in the smoked salmon mince.
stuffing: Slide a leek casing over the extension tube of a sausage stuffer, taking care to not tear the leek. Feed the paste through until it fills about 1" of the end of the casing (enough to release air pocket), then tie filled end with string. Continue feeding paste until casing is filled. Remove from tube and tie open end with string. If sausage stuffer is not available, fill casings by piping filling through a pastry bag fitted with a long, wide tip. Or, do it old school (like my mother still does), by forcing the filling with thumbs through a funnel fitted into one end of the casing.
cooking: Drop tied sausages into a 50C water bath and cook for 20 minutes (no bag needed).