This week was all about the fundamentals and delicious properties of sausage making. My brother in law comes from a family all too familiar with making hot dogs and sausage, and I’m very excited to be able to share with them what I’ve learned over Christmas vacation. Before this week I was vaguely familiar with the process of making sausage. I knew that there had to be ground meat and I also knew that there were certain flavor components that needed to be added to them eat in order to create the sausages that we know and love. What I didn’t know about were the small little details within that process that help to ensure the perfect sausage is created.
One of the first steps in making sure you have a flavorful as well as moist sausage is the amount of meat and fat you should use. Chef Mike taught us that there are basically two ends of the fat to lean ration you can choose from. On the one side you could have a sausage that is 75% lean and 25% fat and on the other you could go as far as 50% lean and 50% fat. He suggested to us that we go no leaner that 75% when making sausage because the fat helps to keep the meat moist and flavorful during the cooking process. We made two types of sausage: Hot Italian Sausage and Bratwurst. For our Italian sausage we gathered 1pound of fatty pork butt, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, chili flakes and/or cayenne pepper, paprika, fresh chopped parsley and dried oregano.
We then took a small cup of ice water and by teaspoon slowly added it to our ground meat mixture. This process helps to ensure that the meat will stick together.
Once you can put meat on your spoon and hold it upside down without any falling off, your meat is ready. We then set our Italian sausage aside and continued with our bratwurst. We ground up 10 ounces of lean veal and 6 ounces of fatback with the skin off.
Once ground together we added in mace, nutmeg, powdered ginger, white pepper, salt and caraway seeds. We then proceeded with the same ice water step as before.
Once both mixtures were ready we took tiny handfuls of each and made them into a patty to quickly sauté. This allows you to test the seasonings and adjust the meat before you put it into the casing.
Once our seasoning was adjusted we took our meat to the stuffer. (A tip for all with Kitchen Aid mixers: you can find grinders and stuffers on Amazon for much cheaper than you would in stores.)
We pushed the casing onto the stuffer and when we were ready began feeding our meet through the top and into the casing. You have to pull about an inch out of the casing in the beginning to ensure that no air is being allowed in and once you’ve done that, you can tie it in a knot and continue to stuff.
Once all of the meat was in the casing we took it off and checked for any air pockets. If we found any, we poked them gently with a tooth pick. We then chose our desired length and began to twist them into links. Once all of the sausage was in a link, we tied the other end of the casing together. You leave it untied until now in case you need any room for the sausage to go.
I absolutely urge you to go out and make some sausage. It’s so incredibly easy and the best part is, you can make it out of almost anything. And please if you do decide to make some, or if you already have some great sausage recipes, share them on here. I’d love to hear from those with more experience. I hope everyone is having a great few weeks before Christmas and no one is too stressed. Happy shopping!