I’ve been practicing my sausage making skills over the winter and last week I decided it was time to test myself. Grilling season is approaching here in Chicago so it was time to use the basic skills I’ve acquired and invent something delicious. I settled on two new flavors: a mango-poblano pepper sausage and an apple-sage sausage.
One lesson I’ve learned about making sausage at home is you really need to add a little more fat than the recipes call for. The first couple batches of sweet Italian sausage were tasty but they came out a little on the dry side. I was following the recipes given so I thought the proportions would be fine, but like I said, not quite juicy enough. Needed more fat. Back to the lab! My research with Ratio and Charcuterie showed 30% fat is ideal but I noticed a lot of the recipes were calling for 1 lb of fat back to be combined with 4 lbs of pork shoulder. Mind you, math isn’t my strongest suit (much more of a wordsmith can’t you tell) but even I can figure out 1 lb (out of 5 total) is only 20% so you’re going to need a really fatty piece of shoulder to get an extra 10%. So with that in mind I decided to add 25% of fat back and it turned out to be a good decision as the sausages ended up being more juicy.
Since I intended on making two different flavors my plan was to grind up the pork and fat, add salt and garlic, to make a sausage “base” where I could then split the base in half and then add the seasonings before stuffing into the casing. While I would have liked to let the flavors incorporate more into the meat I felt it was ok to compromise a bit since it was my first foray into off-the-cuff seasoning. I also thought this was a good way to go in case one of my franken-stuffs didn’t turn out so well, spread the risk a little.
Next up for the research department: how much seasoning? I basically looked at about a dozen recipes which used similar ingredients and then divided by two since most were for 5 lbs of sausage. The mango-poblano sausage came out really well and I think I hit close to the mark with the spice ratios. Maybe some more cilantro but I’m nitpicking and I like cilantro. Lots of good flavor and the chili powder gives the sausage a little bit of smokiness. The apple-sage sausage came out ok. It’s sweet but needs more seasoning, like more sage and some other layers, maybe some nutmeg and some other herbs. I don’t think it’s strong enough flavor-wise so this sausage remains a work in progress.
Overall I was pretty pleased with my first attempt at creating flavor profiles. As always, you learn a little bit each time, like the need for more fat, and eventually you build a good enough foundation where you can start working on the fun stuff like coming up with your recipes.
- 4 lbs pork shoulder cubed
- 1 lb 5 oz fat back cubed
- 40 grams kosher salt
- 2 Tbs minced garlic
- About 10 feet of hog casings, rinsed and soaked
Combine and mix all the ingredients together. Chill until ready to grind or set in refrigerator and chill overnight.
Using the medium holed grind plate, grind the pork cubes into a mixing bowl set in ice.
Using a scale divide the sausage base into equal parts.
Run water through the casings and let soak in a small bowl of water for 30 minutes or until you’re ready to stuff them.
Mango-Poblano Pepper Sausage (for approx 2 ½ lbs)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 4 Tbs chopped cilantro
- 2 Tbs Chili powder
- ½ C finely diced poblano pepper
- ½ finely diced mango
- ½ C ice water
Apple-Sage Sausage (for approx 2 ½ lbs)
- 3 Tbs chopped sage
- ½ C finely diced granny smith apple
- ½ C ice water
For each batch:
Add all ingredients except the water to half of the sausage base. Mix well so the ingredients are distributed fairly evenly. When done add the water and mix until it is absorbed and the pork gets “sticky.” If using a stand mixer it will take about 1 minute with the paddle attachment.
Make a small patty and cook to check the seasonings.
Stretch and push the hog casing onto the stuffer tube attachment, leaving an inch or two hanging off the end of the tube.
Stuff the sausage keeping one hand on the end of the tube where the casing is getting stuffed and help it along if it gets stuck.
When you run out of sausage, cut off the end and use the remaining casing for the next batch.
Twist the sausage into 4-6 inch links.