It was a very sad day for me when I came to realize that most commercially prepared sausage, even the so called “Pure-Beef” or “Pure-Pork”, were in fact not entirely made out of nothing-but-pure-meat. Indeed, most of them, even the artisan made and organic products of this world often contain all kinds of fillers, namely bread crumbs and other wheat products; in other words, gluten! And that’s when you’re lucky enough for them not to be filled with an array of other undesirable ingredients such as soy, msg and various chemicals whose names no one can pronounce. Who would have thunk that such nasties could even be found in a beautiful thing like a fresh sausage?
This sad revelation could only mean one thing: my joyous happy sausage eating days were behind me. What was a lifetime of not eating Hot Italian Sausage going to be like? I almost wept. But then I learned that making sausage at home was not complicated in the least! Messy? Somewhat, yes. A bit lengthy? Perhaps! But as far as the difficulty level is concerned, making sausage at home is almost as easy as making meat patties from scratch. The only difference is, this time, when you’re done grinding the meat, you need to stuff it into hog casings. All you need to do this is a sausage stuffer, a little bit of time on your hands and a few handfuls of patience. What if you don’t have a meat grinder and sausage stuffer? You can just mix all the ingredients together, form the mixture into patties and cook it as is. Then, relabel your dish “Breakfast Sausage” and you’re all set and good to go! Besides, tons of people remove the casings from their sausage before to cook it because they don’t care for it… so why go through the hassle in the first place? But if you do want to go through the entire process of sausage making, then by all means, join me!
Firstly, work the meat, aromatics and spices through the meat grinder without the stuffer attachment installed.
Why? Well, for one, because we have it, therefore we might as well use it, right?
Secondly, I find that grinding the meat a second time will give it a finer texture and will ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and well incorporated. Our sausage will be evenly textured and flavored throughout.
Now slide the hog casing onto the sausage stuffing tube and leave about 5 to 6 inches hanging at the end. Each link requires approximately 6 inches of casing, so about 9 feet total will be needed for this recipe. Don’t tie the end at this point: you want any eventual air bubbles to be able to escape, if need be.
Hold the casing loosely at the end of the stuffing tube with one hand and let the sausage feed into the casing as you push the meat down the feeding tunnel with your other hand. This process is actually somewhat easier if you have someone there to help you; this way you can use both your hands to shape and support the sausage while your partner feeds the meat into the grinder. But, as you can see, the task can very well be handled by one person alone, even if said person also happens to be taking pictures WHILE stuffing the sausage.
As you feed the meat into the grinder, it will take care of pulling the casing off of the tube. All you need to help shape it a little bit and push back any air bubbles that may form.
And nothing’s going to explode if you let go of the meat feeder to use both your hands to shape your sausage for a few seconds. You can take your time, too, you know. There’s a little lever on this fancy mixing machine that controls the speed. You can turn that one down a notch or two, and it will buy you even more time.
The only thing that you want to avoid, really, is feeding air into your casing, so just make sure that if you let go, there’s plenty of meat still to go down that feeder.
Once all the meat has been pushed through, you will want to take your sausage off of the stuffing tube and twist this giant sausage into links.
It really helps to twist in opposite directions between links to keep them from coming undone as you twist the next one.
It find it’s a lot easier to form links of equal lengths when I work in sections, so what I do is I twist right smack in the middle of the giant sausage, then once more in the middle of each of these 2 newly formed sections.
This will leave you with 4 oversized links, which you will then want to form into 3 or 4 links each, which will yield a total of 12 to 16 sausages.
Once all your links have been formed, tie a knot at both ends of the chain, as close to the meat as possible. Place the finished sausage in the fridge, uncovered, to let it dry a bit (I like to let mine dry overnight) then cut it into individual links.
I swear, these babies not only look, they also taste exactly, if not better, than the real thing! And the best part is, I get to control how mild or spicy I want my sausage to be! This recipe has a real good kick to it, maybe a tiny bit more than the ones we are accustomed to. This is just spicy enough for my taste, but feel free to adjust the seasoning to accommodate your taste buds.
Tell you what: equipped with that knowledge, I no longer have a reason to sigh when I pass next to the sausage counter at the food market! And I can brag my heart out that *I* made the sausage myself when I serve it to my friends and family!
HA! Now there’s something I can be proud of!
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