How to Make Homemade Sausage

Making Sausages with a meat grinderIf you have a meat grinder and use it regularly, it will be instantly apparent that you are halfway down the road to making your own sausages. The major ingredient in sausages of course is your ground meat of choice and having it ready to turn into sausages makes the remainder of the process relatively easy. Of course making sausages without adding chemical additives and preservatives may be foremost in your mind, however it is handy to be aware that fat is also an important ingredient when it comes to making your own sausages. You will need to be OK with working with fat and eating it as part of your cooked homemade sausage.

Main Ingredients

In addition to your ground meat of choice, salt, seasonings and fat, as well as a liquid of choice to help bind the mixture together. This is what constitutes sausage meat. If you don’t use a liquid for binding, you will be left with plain hamburger meat, albeit it well flavored. It can be as simple as wine or beer, juice, water or even cream… they all work well to bind together the other ingredients. Some folk like to use the bound sausage meat without going to the trouble of stuffing casings and creating traditional links of sausages but it is all about personal choice.

Beef, pork, lamb and game are generally considered the best meats to use.

A Hint about Fat

Sausage aficionados will no doubt agree that a low fat sausage is not a good one when it comes to taste. A minimum of 20% ratio to meat is required and some prefer a sausage with up to 50% fat. 20% – 30% is the accepted ratio for making a good sausage.  You can buy fat separately from your butcher and add it to the meat or alternatively, purchase meat with the fat attached. Too much fat is equally as bad as not enough and the same can be said for salt and other flavorings. A good sausage mixture should have a balance between all the ingredients you decide to use without one overpowering another.

Equipment

You will need the following:

  • Meat grinder with a choice of grinds
  • Scales to ensure correct weight ratios of ingredients
  • Sausage stuffing machine (only if you are going to make large quantities on a regular basis) otherwise the attachment that comes with your meat grinder will do fine
  • Sausage casings
  • Wooden rack for hanging sausage links

Work with Cold Ingredients

The best way to do this is to put everything in the freezer for a couple of hours, including the equipment. The meat should not be frozen but the fat can be. You need to make sure this part of the process is done before proceeding. Have plenty of ice cubes on hand too so you can keep the meat and fat cold while you are working with it. While the meat is chilling, you can also cut up seasonings such as garlic.

RECIPES

Hank’s Sweet Italian Sausage

Makes 5 lbs of sausage, or about 15-20 links

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 pound pork fat
  • 40 grams kosher salt
  • 35 grams sugar
  • 20 grams toasted fennel seeds
  • 6 grams cracked black pepper
  • 4 grams ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ¾ cup dry sherry
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  1. After the meat is close to freezing and bowls and the grinder have been refrigerated for at least one hour, you can lay out the ingredients.
  2. Cut meat and fat into 1” chunks and mix the chunks together in a bowl and place the bowl over ice to keep it cold. Add in most of your spices, keeping back a couple of tablespoons of fennel seeds together with one tablespoon of black pepper. Mix again and then add salt and sugar. Mix once again. Cover the bowl of mixed ingredients and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Mix together the two types of sherry. An alternative is to use white wine and white wine vinegar if you don’t like sherry.
  4. If you are going to make stuffed sausages, place fifteen – eighteen feet of hog casing into warm water.
  5. When meat chunks are thoroughly chilled, set up the grinder with a cold bowl to catch the ground mixture.
  6. Quickly push cut meat through the grinder using your choice of grind. Italian sausages are rustic so the large grind is OK, but feel free to use a smaller one if you prefer. When done, place the covered bowl with the ground mixture back in the freezer while you clean up the grinder. You could also chill the sausage making attachment at this point.
  7. Take the bowl of sausage mixture from the freezer and add in the sherry and remaining spices. You can mix it all together with your hands, a wooden spoon or even a hand mixture. When thoroughly mixed, the sausage is ready to use. If you are making links, cover the bowl and put it back in the freezer while you clean up and organize the casings.
  8. Set up your sausage stuffer and run warm water through the casings. If you are using more than one length of casing, make sure you leave one end hanging over the side of the bowl for ease of use when you need a new one.
  9. Place a casing onto the stuffing tube leaving a six inch length to tie off later.
  10. Remove sausage mixture from the freezer and place it in the holding pan of the grinder. Any mixer that doesn’t fit should be kept over ice until ready for use. Turn on the grinder and start pushing the mixture down into the stuffer, noting that air will come out first before the sausage comes through.
  11. Use one hand to assist the casing as it comes off the tube of the stuffer until you have one long coil of sausage with another six inches of casing at the end. Tie off with a double knot at one end of the coil. Attach another casing if required and repeat.
  12. Pinch off a link and spin away from you a few times, ensuring the links are tight, then make another link and spin it towards you. This process will create the links as well force any air bubbles to the outer edge of the sausage. Keep alternating the direction of the links until you reach the end of the coil. Tie off.
  13. Hang the sausages on a drying rack, spreading out the links, before pricking any air bubbles with a sterilized needle so that the casing will flatten on the link.
  14. Leave the links to dry for a couple of hours then store in the fridge in a container lined with paper towels. Use the following day or place in bags for freezing.

Mexican Chorizo Sausage

Makes about 5 pounds, or about 15 sausage

You don’t need to case this sausage if you don’t want to.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds pork, wild pig or bear
  • 1 pound pork fat
  • 35 grams kosher salt, about 3 tablespoons
  • 15 grams sugar, about 1 tablespoon
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 grams Mexican oregano, about 2 tablespoons
  • 5 grams ground cumin, about 2 teaspoons
  • 3 grams chipotle powder, about 1 heaping teaspoon
  • 5 grams cayenne, 1 tablespoon
  • 28 grams pasilla, ancho or mulatto chile powder, about 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • hog casings

Make up sausages using the method for Sweet Italian Sausages above.

Venison Sausages with Sage

Makes about 5 pounds, or about 15 sausages

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds venison, lamb or beef
  • 1/2 pound venison, lamb or beef fat (optional)
  • 1/2 pound pork fat (or 1 lb pork fat if not using venison fat)
  • 1/4 cup gin or red wine
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 33 grams (about 2 tablespoons) Kosher salt
  • 4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) Instacure No. 1 (optional)
  • 6 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 4 minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground dried mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons minced sage
  • hog casings

Make up sausages using the method for Sweet Italian Sausages above.

Recipes courtesy of Hank Shaw https://honest-food.net/cured-meat/fresh-sausages/

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