Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Making Sausage at Home February 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 10:54 am
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My goal for 2012 (I don’t do resolutions) is to become a more versatile cook, and expand my culinary skills.  After a very fun and succesful tamale making day last month, with my friends Susan and Kathryn, we decided that this month we would break in Kathryn’s new meat grinder and make sausages.

In preparation for this day, I purchased two 6 pound pork shoulder roasts from Richardson Farms.  I ordered the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments to my Kitchen Aid Mixer, and paid a visit to Savory Spice Shop on Sixth Street.  I always try to use fresh spices when I cook, and find they make a huge difference in flavor.

I decided to make two different sausages, both flavors I am familiar with and regularly use; Hot Italian and Mexican Chorizo.  I chose recipes from a trusted source, Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman.

My guide

I did not start the process before the actual day, aside from reading about the procedure and deciding on recipes.  So when I got home from work at 12:15, I began preparing my spice mixtures, and set those aside.  Next, I began cutting the pork into cubes small enough to  pass easily through the grinder, maybe 3/4 inch.  This proved more difficult than I had anticipated, because the bones in the pork roast were difficult to cut around.

As I was to this point, Susan arrived, thankfully with her Turkey sausage already ground, mixed and ready to be stuffed.  This was the best idea of the day, because it left her free to help assemble the grinders, and load the casings, a huge help.

Susan Loading the Casings

Kathryn arrived having done as little as I had to prepare.  She brought her shiny new Cabela’s Meat Grinder, lots of venison from her family’s property, some already ground pork and two pounds of fatback.

We worked in teams the whole day.  While two of us fed our meat through the grinders, one washed dishes.  While two of us stuffed sausages one of us ground meat.  It was very much a team effort, and sometimes our 6 hands weren’t enough and an elbow had to be used to turn something on, or plug something in.  I wish I had more pictures of the whole process, but I was up to my elbows in pork, spices, fat and dish soap most of the time.

After grinding the meat and fatback together, the mixture is put into the mixer with whatever liquid is called for.  Kathryn’s bratwursts called for beer, so she used a Milk Stout I had in the fridge.  My chorizo called for Tequila and water; the Hot Italian called for Red Wine Vinegar and water; the Venison Breakfast Sausage, just called for water.  Inexplicably, I put my liquid into the cubed, spiced pork for the Hot Italian, before I ground it, which made grinding a wet slurpy mess.  Lesson learned.

Mixing in the Liquids
An important step in this process is to taste the sausage, before you commit to stuffing it.  So, after adding the liquids and blending, we made a small patty and cooked it each time, adjusting for spice and salt.  This was another part of the process that benefitted from having several people.  We reached a concensus, on flavor and texture, prior to proceeding to the next step.

Stuffing the casings was very much a two person job – one person to feed the sausage into the grinder, and one to guide the stuffed sausage into uniform links.  Susan had performed the latter before, so we let her form the sausages.  The end result was very uniform, beautiful sausages.

Loading and Stuffing

Once done with one sausage, we put it on a sheet pan in the spare fridge to dry out and set a bit, then moved on to the next.   Space was something I had not considered prior to this adventure, so it was just lucky that I have an old fridge in the storage room, normally used for beverages.

As the day progressed, more beautiful sausages emerged.  By the end of the day, we had made Turkey Sausage with Cherries and Pecans, Bratwursts, Venison Breakfast Sausage (left in bulk) Hot Italian, and Mexican Chorizo.


Once divided into portions of three, we ended up with about ten pounds of sausage each.
It was a wonderful (albeit very long) day with good friends, and I think we learned some valuable lessons.  The Cabela’s Meat Grinder is a far superior grinder to the Kitchen Aid attachment.  I am sporting what I will call “Sausage Elbow” from trying to smash pork into the Kitchen Aid Grinder which frequently clogged and had to be disassembled and cleaned.    Had I read the cookbook throughly, I would have known to at least cube and season the meat the night before; 1) to allow the flavors to meld and 2) to save time on sausage making day.  Also, next time, I think an additional grinder would be helpful, so that we won’t have to be constantly cleaning and waiting turns.  Two personal lessons for me are: 1)  the liquid goes in after grinding, oops, and 2) don’t try to skimp on portions of fat.  I tried to make my sausages a little on the leaner side, and the mouth feel was off.  Thankfully, Kathryn brought extra fat.
After a long and tiring day, we sat down, had some Prosecco, and reveled in our accomplishments.   (OK, we may have started the Prosecco a little earlier).  It was a fun day, and I learned a lot and am looking forward to eating some sausage!
Next up – Bacon.  Yikes.
Resources – Fatback can be ordered in advance from the butcher at Central Market; Casings came from Hudson Sausage and can be stored in salt water for several months. 

13 Responses to “Making Sausage at Home”

  1. Cecilia Says:

    Fun post on a great day of sausage-making with your pals. I wish I could have lent my two hands to the effort. I have been making sausage since I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I invented chicken feta spinach sausage in 1982, but I can’t prove it. 🙂 Looking forward to more of your kitchen adventures.

    • Thanks Cecilia! We will do it again when you can come – I’d love that. Now that it isn’t all foreign and somewhat daunting, it will be especially fun. And, I’m looking forward to experimenting with different meats and spices.

  2. Susan Says:

    It was a wonderful day. I think your post captured some of the ‘dance’. It seemed we were each in constant motion, but it came together so well. Thanks so much for hosting. I was so wiped out by the end of the night, but what a feeling of accomplishment! Doing it with friends made it fun and not a chore.

    • It was fun and I’m still wiped out. I repackaged everything individually today and got it in the freezer. It is a lot of sausage, and I can’t wait to try it. Looking forward to making bacon!

  3. […] new meat grinder my parents gave me for Christmas. Carla did a complete recap of the day on her blog– it’s worth reading if you like sausage pictures or if you’re curious about the […]

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  7. Matti bills Says:

    Great upload. Richardsons, Hudson’s, milk stout. Thanks for going local. Just bought my boyfriend a meat grinder/sausage stuffer from callahan’s. thanks for the advice!

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