I mentioned in a previous post about our new community at the homestead property and how delighted we were to find people of similar interests. One of those interests happened to include making your own sausages and we have been so thrilled that even when we go to the local grocery stores to have a look at the on-sale cuts of meat we are met by people that will recommend how we should use the meats we are looking at. One recommendation came on an interesting day, we had stopped into the local store for a cut of pork that was on sale to see if it would fit in our smoker. The gentlemen that was also looking through the sale meats told us that the pork cuts we were interested in go great in sausages. He suggested a venison mix but little did he know Kevin had already started defrosting pork for us to make our first sausage.
The firsts steps in your sausage making venture should start at the drawing board as most homesteaders are feeling right now the winter months are for testing and planning. One of the major choices in sausage making is what texture are you looking for? Are you someone who enjoys a hotdog or smoother textured sausage? Or are you someone who is more into chunkier texture sausage more like ground beef that is great for pasta.
Kevin brought a family recipe into our lives when we first started dating called hot Italian spaghetti, I should say I was a novice and quite frankly a wimp when it came to spice and culinary exploration so this is something that I went into trying thinking I wasn’t going to like. I sat down as the girlfriend to the table full of Kevin’s family enjoying one of there family staples, and I thought my face was going to burn off. This is one of those situations where you really like the guy your dating and you want his family to like you, but all you want to do is raid the ice cream and jump into the pool, we’ve all been there right?? The weird thing is that this is not the crazy part of the story. About a month later I woke up for work in the morning and all I wanted to come home to that night was an almost literal pipping hot bowl of this family secret hot Italian spaghetti. I may share this recipe at some point but back to our story, you can use a courser grind for testing your potential future inlaws.
The first and I’m sure some would say just as important as the ingredients you pick for the sausage is to make sure your equipment is cold when you use it. It’s funny to say that because you’ve probably been defrosting meat in your fridge for 2 days as we did. This process is mostly prep work as you need to defrost all of your meats ahead of time to make sure that the meat is in working condition before you start. We used a 3.5lbs Boston butt (pork shoulder) and 1lbs pork belly. These were cut into one-inch cubes and placed into a large bowl. Next in true Kevin fashion things had to have a little kick to them. This portion is completely optional, the type of sausage you make depends on your personal tastes.
We weren’t quite sure where to start when we were looking into sausage recipes so we went with a classic, jalapeno cheddar pork sausage. We diced up 4 medium sized jalapenos and about 2 cups of mild cheddar cheese. Kevin tried to be nice to me here and he removed the seeds from the jalapenos so I would be safe from having to consume my body weight in snow, youll see why this is funny as you keep reading…
The next step is to grind the meats, as mentioned it depends on your desired outcome for the number of times you grind. For this particular sausage, we ground twice, once with just the 1-inch pork cubes and a second time with the fresher ingredients. Remember your equipment has to be cold. When we started the grinding process there was frost on our grinder and we had to work very fast, I cleaned the equipment if there were any blocks and Kevin fed the meats through the top. This is where I would definitely recommend getting an electric grinder if you intend to turn a crake to make sausage you will be sore for days! Save yourself the pain and under the breath muttering and get an electric or equivalent grinder. We, of course, use Scarlett our fiery red kitchen aid mixer with the grinder and sausage stuffer attachment for this project.
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Back to the sausages again! Goodness Gillian keep focus! We have come to the part of the program where I tell you that little extra funny bit if you kept reading. The first grind was done, the peppers and the cheese were added to the mix, and now it was time to season. Kevin of course, the spice cabinet master added pepper, salt, chopped garlic, pink salt, and red pepper chilli flakes. You may be thinking well that’s not funny…? Well…do you remember where the sweet wonderful man of my dreams took into consideration how I don’t want to have to feel like I need an ice bath after sharing a meal with him? As he added the last spice, the red pepper chilli flakes, he remembered his sweet sentiment of non-spicy just as the lid of the flakes popped off and the limited spice recipe became a boiling bowl of mouth lava. Then it was mixed well and run through the meat grinder one more time.
Of course, that was terrifying and I am glad that the next step is something you should do in all sausage making, a taste test. I don’t quite remember how Kevin convinced me to be a part of this but I believe the fried sausage filling was offered after a well-planned glass of wine. It is important to make sure you taste test your sausage filling before you commit them to your casings. This will be your last opportunity to change the recipe to your liking before it gets too time consuming and pricy.
After you have agreed on the taste of the sausage, which in our case resulted in me coughing from spice intake and Kevin enjoying the taste. I feel like I should mention that 95% of people have a higher tolerance for spice then I do so, in all honesty, it is a bit of a dramatic response.
Next, its time to case the filling, this is where we put our mixed bowl of meats back in the fridge to cool under the cover of a towel while our casings rehydrated. Remember the post about how we found these beauties?? Just as a pointer they are real hog casings, at this point, we have not worked with synthetic casings but I’m sure at one point we will just to try the difference. For your casings always read and follow the label on how to properly rehydrate or thaw your casings. In our case, they needed to sit for 30-40 mins in water as ours were dehydrated and salted. After they have regained their elasticity you can place them around the sausage stuffer attachment to your beautiful Scarlett or other equipment and tie off your last end.
Now its time to start that cracker and slowly add your sausage filling to the casing. Be sure to keep two things in mind during this process. 1. Sausages are not one long tube, you need to leave room in the full casing to a, tie it off, and b spin the casing into sections to make your yummy BBQ sizzlers. 2. The casing will fill with air as you start to feed the filling into it, it is important to get the air out so that you do not end up with an air-filled sausage. To remove the air that will enter the casing simply tap the casing while it is still on the feeder with the back of a knife. This will allow for the air to escape but will not release the precious casing.
After you have fully filled your casing, leaving enough room for you to tie off the end, and twist into sausage sized chunks, it can be packed up into a freezer safe container and saved for a later date or enjoyed that night. For us, it was placed in a freezer bag and left for another day, because by this time it was about 9:30 pm on a school night so not the best time to strike up a homemade BBQ meal.
This recipe makes 17 sausages
3.5 lbs Boston Butt cubed
1lbs Pork Belly cubed
4 medium jalapeno peppers chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese cubed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp pink curing salt
2 sections of your choice of sausage casing follow directions on the package for how to prep these.
Place meat grinder in the freezer before preparing ingredients, your equipment should be cold for sausage making in order to make the process as smooth as possible.
Chop and cube sausage ingredients and set the peppers and cheese aside.
Remove meat grinder from the freezer and begin grinding your pork cubes.
Once finished return the meat grinder to the freezer after a quick clean and add peppers and cheese to the mixture along with black pepper, salt, pink salt, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
Repeat grinding process second time with all ingredients. After grinding select a meatball sized portion and flatten into a hot pan for a taste test. Change seasonings to taste. Once you are satisfied with the mix feed sausage casing onto sausage stuffer and tie off the last end. Begin feeding the sausage mix into the sausage stuffer slowly, if casings fill with air tap the back of a knife on the section still on the sausage stuffer to release the air. Be sure to leave room in the casing to separate sausage sized chunks
Tie off at the end of each casing and repeat until mixture is gone. Once you have finished stuffing the casings spin the casing approximately the length of your hand. Repeat until all casings have been portioned.
At this point, you can either place in a freezer safe container for later or have a fresh handmade sausage right after finishing the process.