This past weekend I made about 25 pounds of sausage. I really had not conceptualized how long that would take, because the normal Italian sausage I make (and posted about last week) is simple (salt, pepper, coriander) and I freeze without stuffing into casings. It took a lot longer than I was expecting, although my wife knew. She thought I was crazy. plus some of my technique need to be, err, refined.
I bought my pork from Costco, and it was a basic shoulder cut. I got a contact for a butcher where I might try. I am mainly looking to get pork belly for making my own bacon – that is another post, though. My casings I ordered through Amazon and they came salted and sealed. They were simple to prepare: rinse, soak for 30 min, then run water through them a few times.
Generally, I cube the meat and put it on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 30-45 min. The meat needs to be firm when going into the grinder.
This was probably the simplest to make. For 6 pounds of meat, I ground it through the fine grinding plate. I added salt, pepper, fresh thyme, 2 tbsp cayenne pepper (!), and half a cup of garlic. I used hickory for the smoke, and they came out spicy, garlicy and delicious! My brother liked these the best.
Pork & Apple Sausage
These were mild and meant to be family friendly. I made 9 pounds total, adding: salt, pepper, lemon zest, 6 tbsp parsley and 6 tbsp fresh rosemary. And let me tell you, that rosemary flavor was incredible! I mixed these and put it back in the freezer for a second grind through the fine grinding plate. I ran into a little trouble on the second grind, as it was not firm enough about halfway through. Next time I will just stick it back into the freezer to firm it up.
After the second grind, it looked very smooth and a very light pink, with fat and muscle all blended together. To this I added some chopped sauted granny smith apples and leeks, and a reduction of apple cider. I will add more of this reduction in the future, as the apple was lost a little bit. Half of this batch went in the smoker with hickory, half were frozen for pan-frying later. They turned out delicious!
This is a Portuguese sausage that is very similar to chorizo. Lots of spice, with just a hint of heat. I made 8 pounds and added: salt, pepper, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, and a bit of garlic. Once mixed, it had this lovely copper color to it. I used applewood for the smoking.
Stuffing Into Casings
This is where I ran into a little bit of trouble. At first, I used the stuffing attachments that came with my meat grinder. I stuffed the Pork & Apple first, and it seemed to go fairly steady. It had been ground twice, and it was smoother. For the Linguica, it slowed down significantly. I had used the medium grind plate, and so it seemed to clog. I cleaned it out a few times, but eventually the stuffing came to a stand still. It was probably 11pm, and I still had to finish the andouille. I got a little stressed out at this point.
But I have a very fine coworker wh
o had received an extra sausage stuffer as a gift one Christmas, and had given it to me about a year ago. I scoured the house and found it downstairs, still in the packaging. Out it came to save the evening. It is nothing fancy, but worked great. I forgot to take a picture in action, but here is a pic from Amazon.
I was able to finish the Linguica quickly enough, but the andouille was difficult at first. It occurred to me that the meat was cold, and took a break to let it warm up. After that, it worked nicely. In the future I will also use some oil or food grade lubricant to help the action.
In the end, I finished around 2am exhausted…
Bring The Smoke!
So, these pictures will hopefully speak for themselves. It was a lot of work, but well worth it! I will use better technique in the future!