Monday November 5, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- According to Jeremy Stanton, owner of The Meat Market on Stockbridge Road, there are probably thousands of ways to properly make sausage.

"There is a right way and a wrong way, of course," Stanton said. "But within the right way, there are thousands of different ways.

"Actually, within the wrong way, there re probably a thousand different ways to do it, too, come to think of it," he said.

On Sunday, the staff at The Meat Market, specifically chef Jazu Stine, presented a class on how to prepare sausage the right way. About a dozen people attended the class, which is actually the third seminar in a sort of sausage-making trilogy. In previous weeks, there was an intro to sausage-making class, a knife skills class and Sunday's advanced class.

Sunday's advanced class included approaches to smoking and emulsifying.

These types of meat-related classes are actually scheduled at The Meat Market on a regular basis, according to Scott Ross, one of Stanton's employees.

For example, the store recently had a Halloween-themed Offal Tasting, said Ross. Offal is defined as the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. In many countries, offal is considered a delicacy, such as pate or sweetbreads.

"We served [beef] heart on a stick, blood custard, it was pretty over the top," he said.

Sausage-making, according to Stine, is not really a lost art. A look at any freezer in the meat department of a local supermarket will confirm that.

"But," said Stine, "It's a lost art in terms of being done by hand."

The preparation, as well as recipes, "varies from region to region, state to state, even town to town," said Stanton.

But, he added, there are some fundamentals to observe, he said.

"And that's what we're doing here," said Stanton. "It only makes sense for us to share our knowledge."

Stanton's store has only been open about a year. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest by people in using locally grown foods of all kinds, he said. That has been manifested locally in a proliferation of farmers markets in the area. Stanton's store uses meats harvested only from local farms.

"People are very interested these days in where their food comes from," he said. "And they are not afraid to ask."

Sausage-making was initially a way to preserve and transport meat. Although sausage is probably older, references to sausage first emerge in the sixth century B.C., according to www.sausageobsession.com, a website devoted to all aspects of the art. Eventually primitive societies learned that dried berries and spices could be added to the meat to flavor it.

"If you make [sausage] locally, you get a variation in the product that you wouldn't get in sausage you buy in a store," Stine said.

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
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On Twitter: @DerekGentile