Sausage Party!

That’s right, kids, we’re makin’ sausages this week – and not in some creepy “this man offered me a nickel if I’d help him make sausages” way – we’re talkin’ real damn sausages!  German Chancellor Otto Von Bismark once said “Laws are like sausages.  It is better not to see them being made.”   Well, I actually like to watch CPAC, so I suppose that it’s no surprise that I like to make sausages.

This started just over a year ago, when Elaine got me the meat grinder and sausage stuffing attachment for our KitchenAid as a Christmas present.  She also gave me a copy of “Home Sausage Making” by Susan Peery and Charles Reavis.  The first time that I made sausages, I tried the frankfurter recipe from the book, which I really enjoyed.  Elaine wasn’t a huge fan, but we think that that’s because there is something about the texture of a processed, factory hotdog that, for better or for worse, you probably can’t duplicate at home (or maybe we’re all used to weiners, not frankfurters…).  I think that if I had just said “these are some German sausages” the comparison never would have come up 😉

At any rate, I decided last weekend that it had been too long, and that I was ready to make some more sausages.  There’s nothing terribly graphic shown here, but if you aren’t comfortable with MEAT, well, maybe you should wait for another post about picking plums…

First, you might as well start with the meat.  my recipe called for 2.5lbs of pork shoulder plus 0.5lbs of pork fat.  You probably haven’t seen pork fat on sale at the local Safeway, but if they have a meat section, believe me, they have pork fat.  Just ask the butcher, and they’ll probably wrap some up for free.  I doubled the recipe, but instead of buying pork and fat, I just looked for a fattier than usual pork shoulder.  More on that later.  To prep the meat, cut it up into small pieces; bite-sized, I guess, but don’t get any ideas (remember, RAW pork…).  Lay out the pieces on waxed paper on a cookie sheet and freeze it for 30 minutes.

While the meat is firming up, get your casings ready.  Since these are breakfast sausages,  I used a small casing: lamb.  That’s right, kids, casing = intestines.  They come packed in salty brine.  To prepare them, you simply take as much out of the brine as you need (8~12 feet, in my case), and soak them in water for half an hour or so.  After you’ve changed the water, you add a little vinegar, which softens the casing and makes it more transparent.

Once the meat has firmed up, grind away!  For breakfast sausages (what I’m making here), you use the fine plate.  Keeping the meat cold is important, not just for sanitary reasons.  You want to keep everything firm enough that it doesn’t form a meaty paste as you grind/stuff the sausages.  Grinding into a metal bowl lets you chill everything down in the freezer between grinding and stuffing.

After you’ve ground all of the meat, add whatever spices your recipe calls for.  I’m not going to tell you exact;y what goes into this recipe, buy the book.  That being said, it’s a breakfast sausage, so there’s lots of yummy sage!  Mix it all up with your hands, and then return it to the freezer to firm up.

Now its time to stuff!  The KitchenAid attachment uses the same basic mechanism for stuffing as it does for grinding, except that you swap out the cutting blade and disc for a funnel.  Slide as much casing onto the funnel as you can, tie a knot in its end, and then start feeding the meat mixture into the hopper and pressing it down to the auger below.  I found that running the motor at about speed 8 for stuffing worked best.  Don’t tightly stuff the sausages, you have to turn them into links without them popping like little porky water bombs!  Once you finish a length of casing, twist them into links, and lay them out on a cookie sheet.  Let them sit overnight for the flavours to mix, and then freeze them.  Remember how I didn’t add any extra fat?  I probably should have.  These sausages taste fantastic, but a little more fat would have made them juicier, I think.  I can’t wait to make some hot Italian sausages for the bbq!

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