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Guest Post: Homemade Sausage Madness!

October 11, 2009

Note: We’re excited to feature a guest post from my sister, Cecilia.  She and her friends had a sausage fest (wah-wah), and made their own sausage this weekend!  Crazy!

I decided to do a little culinary experiment, which I’m excited to share!  In general, it seems that more people are looking for ways to save money here and there and as a recent graduate just trying to start out I am on that path as well. I thought it would be fun to again enlist the help of my friends in order to make my own sausage.  I had wanted to do it for a few weeks now, and so I ordered a $20 meat grinder and started to plan.

My friend Ryan offered to make Spaetzle, so it was only logical to make bratwurst.  But not wanting to neglect my love of Kielbasa as well as my own Polish heritage, I wanted to make that as well!  It turned out to be a really fun day as we experimented with several different things.  As always, we all worked together and thoroughly enjoyed the finished product of our German Feast for our own like Oktoberfest complete with homemade pretzel and German Beer!  YUM!

I will give you the ingredients for both kinds of sausage, though I’d encourage sausage makers to do some research online because there are many recipes for all different types of sausage online.  I chose to stick with two fairly basic Brat and Kielbasa recipes, just to get the basic elements.

Kielbasa

  • 4lbs Pork Shoulder
  • 1/2c Cold Water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4tsp salt
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1tsp Marjoram

Bratwurst

  • 5lb Pork butt
  • 5tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4tsp sugar
  • 1/2tsp coriander
  • 1/2tsp dry mustard
  • 2tsp-dried rosemary
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 3/4tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ¼ tsp Black pepper

A note about the meat… I wanted to buy a large-ish quantity of meat so I went to Costco to pick it up but as I was making both I didn’t want to deal with large quantities of two different kinds of meat.  I got 6lbs worth of pork loin (because that is what I could get) and then divided it between the two.  It worked though the meat I used was a little leaner than either the butt or the shoulder.

You will also need sausage casings.  I wasn’t sure where to get sausage casing because it seems like an odd request for a grocery store butcher, but I found luck at the Eastern Market here in the DC area.  I went to one of the meat counters and got 15oz of Hog Casings for about $6.  The casing should be stored in the refrigerator in salt to preserve it until you are ready to use it.  On sausage making day, the first thing you should do is soak the casing in a bowl of water to get the salt off and to allow it to separate and make it easier to work with.

Meat GrinderYou will need a meat grinder for making the sausage, and there are many options.  If you have a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer then you can get an electric attachment that will grind and stuff the sausage for you.  The other option is to get a hand crank meat grinder like the one I got from Northern Industrial.  I don’t have a stand mixer and figured that it would be less of an investment for the hand crank option in case the experiment didn’t work out.

Let the sausage making begin!

1) I started out by cutting up the large pork loin into both strips and cubes.  I had seen different directions suggest different things and so I wanted to try it both ways to see what was easiest. The cubes worked best for this project.

Ground meat for sausage

Ground meat for sausage

2) Once the meat was cut up, it was time to grind it.  With my trusty industrial hand crank grinder in hand, the process began.  We had a bit of trouble at first because I did not have anywhere to screw the grinder on to.  I thought the railing on my balcony would work but we soon found that it was not stable, so we screwed it on to a wooden cutting board and then balanced that on a cooler.  I am hoping to develop a better way for this for the next time.  For this initial grinding, I suggest using a larger plate for the initial grind because it will go through the grinder again when it is time to stuff and at that time it is better to use the smaller plate for the grinder.

3) Once all of the meat was ground, I divided it, since I was doing two different kinds of sausage.  In separate bowls, I mixed the respective ingredients together.  The ingredients for the Bratwurst has a drier, rub-like consistency while the Kielbasa’s ingredients need to be more liquid.  For the Kielbasa, mix the dry ingredients together including mincing and crushing the garlic. Then you put the cold water in and let the elements dissolve.  This becomes the flavoring for each sausage.

4) Pour each of the flavorings in the separate bowls of ground up meat that had just been divided, and mix together either with a spoon or by hand, depending on what you are comfortable with.  It is important to taste the meat to ensure that it has the right amount of spices in it.  As we all know, though, it is unsafe to eat raw meat, so just take a portion of it and then pan-fry it quickly to taste it.  As a note, the process that the sausage goes through makes the spices more mild than in the very beginning, so don’t be afraid to add your spices liberally.  This will turn out very nice sausages!

5) Next you have to prepare the casings for tubing.  Your grinder should come with a stuffing horn, which is just a plastic piece that is hollow in the middle. Take the end of one of the casings and pull it out of the soaking bowl until you find the other end.  Find the opening on the end of the casing and feed it onto the horn.  The best way to make this process simple is to put the stuffer piece of your meat grinder onto a faucet and start running water through the stuffer as well as through the casing while pushing the casing onto the horn.  Water will run into the casing.

Tubing the sausage

Tubing the sausage

6) When that is complete, attach it on to the grinder again with the smaller plate in place.   Start grinding until you see that the meat is going into the casing.  Be sure to have a good length of lead on the end of the casing and tie it off once the meat starts going onto it.  Then slowly grind the meat and have another person guide the casing and when the link is the desired length, twist the end.  Make sure there is enough twisted, so that it does not come undone in the process.  Repeat this step until you run out of meat.  More casings may need to be “loaded” as you go.

7)  When the meat is completely tubed, it is important to hang the meat up, in order for it to dry and solidify.  This process did not take too long, and we ended up eating one batch of it only after a few hours.   It should sit out to dry until it is dry to the touch, and not tacky.  This time may vary.

As far as cooking the sausage, you can do it at your own discretion.  I usually pan-fry it.  This time we did pan-fry it and then we put it in a slow cooker with sauerkraut.  It all turned out very well and I was surprised at how much easier making sausage was than I thought.  We ended up getting 24 links out of it, which is pretty good, especially with 6 lbs of meat.

Here is the finished product complete with the Spaetzle and the Pretzels we made!

Oktoberfest Feast

Oktoberfest Feast

Guten Apetit!

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