Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to: Make your own sausage!

My family is full of hunters and we eat everything we hunt. From deer meat or venison, we make tons of different things such as jerky and other types of smoked meat. The thing we make the most though is sausage. Hot, sweet and breakfast sausage are the easiest things to make. You do need some special equipment such as a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer if you plan on making links. Both of which you can buy for most stand mixers. If you plan on making links you also need to find casings. I always use natural casings which can be found in your local grocery store. They might not carry it all year round, but you should be able to find them during your states hunting season. They last practically forever too, as long as they are kept packed in salt. Natural casings are nothing more then intestines from whatever animal, usually cow, hog, or sheep. It's the natural casings that give sausage their nice snap when you bite into them. If you prefer you can use synthetic casing, however they are harder to find, usually only in specialty shops or online. The Sausage Maker website has several types of casings you can choose from.
Your sausage can be made from most any type of meat. I make mine from just pork or a mixture of venison and pork. You can use chicken or turkey as well just make sure to add in some pork scraps or pork fat.
There are several recipes you can use. I use a basic seasoning mix called Leggs or Old Plantation Seasoning. You might be able to find it in Agway stores if you have one near buy but you can also buy it from Cumberland Mountain General Store, which is where my family gets it from. One bag will seasoning 20lbs of meat for the making of Italian sausage.

What you need:
5lbs of pork scraps, a whole pork shoulder, or 4lbs of chicken, turkey and 1lb of pork fat or scraps
3oz Leggs seasoning (not by weight, this equals about 3/8 cup)
1oz fennel seeds
2 tbs caraway seeds
1oz crushed red pepper (if you want to make hot sausage)

What to do:
Cut all of your meat into about 1 inch pieces and weigh to make sure you have 5lbs total. Mix your seasoning together in a small bowl and sprinkle over your meat.

Mix the meat with your hands until it's fully coated with the seasoning. Let this sit in the fridge for a couple hours so that it's nice and cold. This makes it easier to grind.

Set up your grinder. I normally grind my meat twice, first with a 3/8 plate and then again with a 3/16 or 1/8 plate. It just makes it easier to get a fine grind on your meat if you  use a bigger one first. In these pictures I left everything at a 3/8 grind.

Grind your meat into a large bowl, and place back in the fridge to stay cold while you prepare the casings.
I only use natural casings so that's the process I have included. When making Italian sausage I use hog casings. Take about two or three casings from the bunch and soak in cold water while you prepare your sausage stuffer. I use either a one inch or a 3/4 inch tube for stuffing Italian sausage.

Find the end of the casing and open it to run a stream of water through the inside of the casing. This not only gets rid of any salt on the inside but also makes it easier to slide onto the stuffer tubes. I also slightly moisten the stuffer tube. Slide an open end of the casing all the way onto the tube. Leave about two inches of casing off the end. Fill the sausage stuffer with your ground meat. Once the meat reaches the casings you can tie the casing end closed. Slowly fill the casings being careful not to over stuff them or they will split while stuffing or when you go to make the links. Continue stuffing until you have about two inches of casing left. Stop, pull the casing off and tie the other end closed. Coil it up and set it aside. Repeat with the remaining casings and ground meat.

To make the links start about 6 inches form one of the ends and give it a pinch so that the meat has been compressed to either side. Then just give it a twist. Repeat with the remaining casing, every 6 inches. Once all your links have been made, take a very sharp knife and cut through the twist. Let your sausage sit overnight in the fridge before wrapping and storing in the freezer. You have just made your very own Italian sausage!

H A P P Y  C O O K I N G !!

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