For my birthday this year, E gave me a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer. I was wicked excited. Honestly, it may have been the best gift he has ever given me. He doesn't have a great track record of picking out things like jewelery or clothes, so food stuff is an easy way to go. We had been planning on making sausage since I unwrapped these bad boys, but then things got in the way. Now that we have nothing to do but sit around and wait for Baby Bean, this weekend was perfect for testing out our sausage making skillz.
It was a learning experience, but totally fun and really not that hard! Start to finish it took us three hours, but most of that time was spent on the couch while we waited for meat to chill in the freezer. In the end, our sausages were delicious, and we'll definitely make more. Next up? Buffalo chicken sausages, 'cause yeah, we're kind of obsessed. We started with this recipe and tutorial from Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and did a tiny bit of tweaking with the help of our Kitchen Aide book and what we had (or more accurately, didn't have) in our pantry. We went to visit the super sweet butcher at our Whole Foods and asked for 4 lbs of pork shoulder and 1 lb. of pork fat. Of course, the smarty pants told us that a pork shoulder will probably have enough fat on it for sausage without adding anything additional, so he just gave us a 5 lb. pork shoulder and called it a day. He was totally right. It was perfect.
Sweet Italian Sausage
5 lbs. pork shoulder
3 1/2 Tbls. kosher salt
3 Tbls. sugar
1 1/2 Tbls. fennel seed
1/2 Tbls. cracked black pepper
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 head garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 cup sweet white wine
1/4 cup white vinegar
Meat grinder and 2 large metal bowls
Stand mixer (optional)
If you want to make links: Hog casings, sausage stuffer, rack for hanging sausages to dry
1. Put your bowls, meat grinder, and pork in the freezer for at least an hour before beginning.
2. Remove pork from freezer and chop into 1 inch chunks. Place in one large metal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and return to freezer for an hour.
3. Remove pork from the freezer, add salt, sugar, fennel seeds, pepper, garlic and parsley and toss quickly to coat. Cover and return to the freezer for 30 minutes.
4. Measure out wine and vinegar and place in the refrigerator. Assemble meat grinder. If you will be making links, rinse your casings in a bowl of lukewarm water and let them soak while you work.
5. Working in batches if necessary, process pork mixture through your meat grinder into your second chilled bowl. If you use the Kitchen Aide attachment, set it to level 4 and use the coarse grinding plate. Once all of the pork is ground, return it to the freezer for 15 minutes.
6. Remove ground sausage from freezer and add wine/vinegar mix. If you have a stand mixer, mix the sausage for 2 or 3 minutes on the lowest setting until it begins to get sticky and bind itself together. If you don't have a stand mixer you can use your hands or a wooden spoon, it'll just take longer!
7. If you are not making links, you are now done! Cook up some sausage for a sauce, make patties and fry it in a pan, or pack it up in your freezer. If you want to make links, stick it all back you know where. Rinse your hog casings well in lukewarm water and set up your sausage stuffer attachment. Grease it up with some shortening and slide a casing on, leaving 5 or 6 inches hanging off the end for tying later.
8. Now this part is tricky, and it takes a bit of getting used to. It was a two person job, I did the sausage scooping and E worked with the casings. I definitely recommend looking at Hank's photos for guidance and going from there! Remove sausage from the freezer and start scooping it into the top of your stuffer attachment while using one hand to slip the casing off the stuffer. It will come out in one large coil. At the end of the casing, leave another few inches empty for tying.
9. Tie one end of your casing into a tight knot. With two hands, measure out the size of your link, squeeze it tightly towards the knot (but not so tightly that you bust the casing!) and twist it towards you four or five times. Measure out the next link, squeeze it tightly, and twist it AWAY from you. Continue down the coil, alternating your twists between links, and tie off the other end. Now check your sausages for air bubbles. If you find any, prick them with a toothpick.
10. Hang sausages on a rack to dry for an hour or two. If you'll eat them within a week, store them in an airtight container lined with paper towels. If not, freeze them!