I did it. I made some sausage. The old saying goes something like: “you never want to watch laws or sausages being made.” Having lived and worked in our nation’s capital for over a decade before moving to Chicago I can honestly say making sausage is much easier than making laws and absolutely tastier. If you’ve been following me (you haven’t? why not?) you know I’ve been trying to teach myself some advanced kitchen skills lately and my new subject is the art/craft of charcuterie. As with every adventure you start off by putting one foot in front of the other so I began slowly with some home-cured bacon and duck prosciutto which both turned out well and encouraged me to continue through the looking-glass to my real goal: sausage. This next step became inevitable with the arrival of a meat grinder last month for my birthday from my in-laws. Giddy-up.
I’ve been reading and learning from Charcuterie so I followed the garlic sausage recipe from it mainly because it’s the first recipe offered in the sausage chapter and they always put the easy ones first right? The only odd item I needed to find was hog casing to stuff the ground meat into. It wasn’t that difficult to find though. Whenever I’ve needed anything special for my culinary adventures I go to Gepperth’s Market in Lincoln Park. They’ve never let me down and as usual they came through with the hog casing. A quick trip to the supermarket for 5 lbs of pork shoulder butt and I was in business.
With pork prepped, mixed, and chilled overnight I began the grinding and stuffing process. It was pretty easy especially since the machine was doing all the work. It’s very satisfying to see one large chain of sausages and realize you made them. I think the whole grinding/stuffing didn’t take me more than 30-45 minutes. The sausage turned out really well too. It’s very garlicky (duh, it’s a garlic sausage) and will be absolutely perfect for adding to cassoulet this winter. It had a fine texture to it, smooth like a brat or knackwurst but firm. I still need to work on my technique but I can’t wait to practice, practice, practice and make all sorts of different kinds.
Below, I’m going to summarize what I did and how I used the grinder and stuffed the sausage. If you’re serious about making your own sausage I recommend buying Charcuterie or some other sausage book to learn the basics. There are a lot of little things covered, like the importance of keeping the meat and equipment cold (keeps the fat and protein together), cuts of meat, use of fat, etc. which I cannot begin to explain as well as in the book. For additional practical information and ideas follow and read these two guys: Saucisson Mac & From Belly to Bacon; both of who have inspired me to start making my own sausages. Check them out, they make pretty awesome stuff.
Garlic Sausage (adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie)
- 5 lbs pork shoulder butt
- 40 grams salt
- 54 grams minced garlic
- 10 grams black pepper
- 1 Tbs Spanish paprika (I put this in on my own but it didn’t make a dent in the garlic, might as well not have even been there!)
- 1 C chilled red wine
- 10 feet of hog casings
Cube the pork shoulder into chunks no bigger than the size of the feeder tube on the grinder. When the shoulder is all cut up, mix in the dry ingredients and the garlic. Set in refrigerator and chill overnight.
Next day: soak the hog casings in water for at least a half an hour. Rinse water through them to further hydrate and clean them. Set aside in a bowl of water until ready to stuff.
Using the small holed grind plate, grind the pork cubes into a mixing bowl set in ice. When done add the wine and mix well until it is absorbed and the pork gets “sticky.” (This is called “binding” the mixture.) If using a stand mixer it will take about 1-2 minutes with the paddle attachment. Put the bound pork mixture in fridge to cool for a half hour.
When you are ready to stuff the sausage take the casing, stretch it onto the tube attachment, and push on as much as you can until it reaches the opening. Leave an inch or two hanging off the end of the tube.
Attach it to your grinder/stuffer and proceed to feed the pork mixture into the feeder tube. Using the plunger which comes with your grinder, push the mixture down the tube and watch the magic happen. Keep one hand on the end of the stuffer tube where the casing is getting stuffed and help it along if it gets stuck.
All in all I did not have any major problems with my very first sausage making experience.