Your local butcher shop likely has a wide variety of tasty sausages on hand for using in recipes. However, Colorado culinary arts students will sooner or later want to explore the possibilities of crafting homemade encased meats. When you make your own sausage, you maximize the freshness of your dishes and gain precise control over the flavor combinations.
Gathering your tools and ingredients
“A quality meat-grinder is a must.”
If you want to make a batch of sausage, you’ll need some special equipment for the task. As the Art of Manliness explained, a quality meat grinder is a must, and you can find either a stand-alone model or an attachment for a stand mixer. You’ll also need an accurate kitchen scale to weigh out the right quantity of meat for your recipe.
There are nearly endless options for meat depending on your preference, such as pork shoulder, beef or venison. You don’t have to place your sausage into casings, but if you want to, natural casings made from hog or sheep are the tastiest choice. A stuffer can also make a major difference in your results, avoiding the possibility that a grinder attachment will get your mixture too warm and destroy the texture.
By the same token, keeping the ingredients and equipment cold is essential to producing the best results. The meat, fat, grinder parts, stuffer and bowls you’ll be using should all spend an hour or two in the freezer before you get started.
Preparing the filling
You have plenty of choices when it comes to making your sausage filling, but you may want to start with a classic, spicy Italian sausage. Bon Appetit provided a recipe that calls for four pounds of boneless, skinless pork shoulder cut into pieces of one to two inches. Grind the meat at a high speed into a chilled bowl.
Knead grated garlic into the pork, followed by a mixture of salt, toasted fennel seeds, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes. Pour in a few tablespoons of red wine and knead again for about a minute before returning the meat to the freezer. You can test your results by cooking a three-inch patty in foil over medium-low heat and seeing if it holds together.
Stuffing the casing
Soak your casings in water to soften them up and make sure there are no holes. Then, bring the stuffer out of the freezer and place a casing over the end of the nozzle, leaving about six inches hanging off the end. Pack in the sausage meat, filling the casing and sliding it onto a baking sheet.
Avoid overstuffing the casings, and use a sterilized needle or pricker to eliminate any air bubbles. Tie off the end so the knot is up against the meat. Alternate spinning the links toward and away from you until you can’t form any more, and then tie off the other end.
Once you’ve prepared your sausages, you can cover and chill them for up to three days before using them. As you work toward an online culinary arts certificate, you’ll find plenty of delicious uses for your meaty, homemade creations.