This weekend I made sausages with casings for the first time, with some help from DH. (Finally using my Christmas present from last year, the sausage stuffer!) The recipe here is from Ruhlman & Polcyn’s Charcuterie book, for breakfast sausage with fresh ginger and sage. I followed the recipe pretty faithfully, though I diced my ginger instead of grating it. Now that we have the extra freezer and fridge, this is a lot easier- I have more room to keep the bowls and grinder parts cold.
Here is my five pounds of cold pork shoulder butt, in 1 inch cubes, along with the rest of the ingredients: salt and pepper, minced fresh ginger, garlic cloves, and minced fresh sage (from my kitchen garden, thank you!). After mixing all of these ingredients, I chilled them while I pulled the grinder parts out of the freezer, and set up a bowl of ice underneath the mixing bowl (which had also been in the freezer).
Here is my DH doing the grinding. You can see the little flecks of sage in the ground meat as it is extruded. The grinding went much more smoothly than the last time I used the attachment. I believe that is because the meat was colder- the cubes had been in the fridge overnight before we mixed in the spices, and since the grinder parts had been in the freezer, the whole system kept the meat colder.
Meanwhile, I put the casings (natural hog casings, purchased at Mills’ Fleet Farm, aka The Man Mall) in warmish water to rehydrate and soak out the salt that they are packed in. I changed the water a few times, and I rinsed out the insides of casings, too. As you can see in the next photo, they do stretch, and as they re-hydrate, they get easier to work with.
After all the meat was ground, we added some ice water, and then mixed with the paddle attachment on the mixer, so that it got the correct sticky texture needed.
At this point, I had hauled out and rinsed my sausage stuffer, a Christmas gift from my Mum. This one holds five pounds of sausage meat at a time, and comes with three sizes of stuffing tube.
This part of the process is filled with opportunity for snickering and bad puns. It also really requires both hands, so it didn’t have a good point for me to stop and photograph it. While you may or may not agree with Julie Powell’s assertions about males being more suited to doing this work than females in her book Cleaving, it is a situation ripe for baudy humor. It takes you right back to Junior High juvenality.
Here, however, is the result of the stuffing process- pinwheels of sausage.
I got three big pinwheels from my five pounds of meat. The last step was to measure out and twist the links and pop the casings to release air bubbles, then freeze the sausages. I make approximately four inch links. The casings I got were more bratwurst diameter than breakfast link diameter, so they look a little stubby in comparison to your average bratwurst.
These are tasty little things. We served them yesterday for brunch with waffles. My favorite local nine year old thought the combination was great. (Here’s to kids with adventurous palates! 🙂 ) Of course, our realization after brunch was that 5 pounds of these is not very many. I’ll be making more of these soon!