Our family loves sausage. Breakfast links, kielbasa, brats, snack sticks, you name it we eat it. One of the many reasons we chose to start raising pigs was a desire to start making our own sausage. Getting the pigs, fattening them to slaughter weight, and bringing home fresh pork was only ½ of the equation. Now it was time to turn Sausage the pig, into sausage on the table!
We then had to decide what all equipment was truly necessary for sausage making, which we needed right away, and what could possibly wait until later when we found more room in our budget.
We weren’t sure exactly how to make sausage, but knew we wanted to do so in the most natural way possible. That meant using natural casings and finding recipes free of nitrates or chemical additives. In regards to equipment, well, we didn’t have any at the time. After doing a bit of research on all the many ways of making sausage, we set to work on our “must have” list. To start with, a good grinder would be needed so we could use larger pieces of meat. This grinder needed to be compatible with a stuffing attachment to stuff the casings. A good “how to” book with plenty of details and recipes was definitely a must. And then we must pick out sausage casings and spices.
Christmas was rapidly approaching and our sausage making plans got put on a back burner as we prepared for the holidays with our recently expanded family. As luck would have it, we received a grinder and sausage making book from a dear friend of ours all the way from Germany! This prompted a new eagerness to embark on our sausage experiment.
An online shopping trip to Cabela’s yielded more than we expected. We were mainly interested in purchasing some natural hog casings to make medium sized sausages. While browsing through their current sales, I ran across a commercial dehydrator with ten wire racks. We have dried veggies and fruits for the last several years. Our frequent use of our small plastic dehydrator has resulted in cracks on most of our drying racks. This dehydrator seemed perfect for our family! So into our shopping cart it went. Once we get good at making fresh sausages, we plan to start working on natural snack sticks using the dehydrator.
We chose to begin with a natural hog casing in a medium size. This is the size typically used for brats and kielbasa. I am not sure what exactly I was expecting, but when we first opened the pack and Andrew reached in to pull them out my first thought was…. Intestinal worms! That is truly what they resemble, shriveled and dry, long white stringy things that really remind me of Animal Science classes in college. Not a very appetizing thought!
On sausage day, the first thing I did was gather our “required supplies.”
-(2) large bowls for meat
-Sausage book “Home Sausage Making”
-2 ½ pounds pork butt
-½ pound pork fat
We chose a recipe from our new “Home Sausage Making” book.
Northern Italian-Style Sweet Sausage
3 feet medium hog casing
2 ½ pounds lean pork butt
½ pound pork fat
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Prepare the casing. For this, you should follow the instructions on the packaging of your casings. Most casings should soak and rinse for 45 minutes or longer.
2. Cut the meat and fat into small cubes and place in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. This makes it easier to grind.
3. Using a coarse disk, grind the meat and fat in a meat grinder.
4. Combine the ground meat, salt, coriander, black pepper, and garlic. Mix well with your hands.
5. Slowly feed the casings into the end of the sausage stuffer being careful not to rip.
6. Fill sausage casings. Prick any air pockets to release air and twist sausages into 3 inch lengths.
7. Cut sausages apart using a sharp knife.
8. Refrigerate links, covered, for a few hours (or overnight) to meld flavors. Use refrigerated sausages in 2-3 days or freeze and store for up to 3 months.
Cook to an internal temperature of 160 F.
Our first attempt at sausage making yielded some very tasty, but perhaps not the prettiest, sweet sausages.
We will now work on making them prettier as we experiment with several other recipes in our sausage book. Soon, we hope to buy a jerky gun and drying racks for the dehydrator so we can start experimenting with beef jerky!
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