Stuffing, cooking and smoking our sausage is here.
Make the sausage yourself and you control what goes into it.
Sausage, where would civilization be without sausage? A poorer place indeed. I would say 99.9% of those reading this blog have never had to do with limited or no refrigeration. I can’t find the picture of Skip and I standing next to the Ice Truck, but do have one that shows Mom getting milk from the Milk Truck.
The first refrigerator I can remember had a freezer about the size of a gallon milk container on its side. If you ever put anything into it, it stayed until the next global warming because it soon became iced in.
So, back to sausage. Man didn’t have a way to store fresh meat for very long so people found that cooked meat and salted meat would last much longer. They also convinced themselves aged meat became a delicacy. So man learned how to make sausage, chop the meat up, add salt and other seasonings. Then smoke it if you wanted to store the meat for the season.
Today, we generally do not make our own sausage, it comes from the mega mart, air sealed in plastic and containing an ingredient list that I can’t pronounce. The list containing everything but flavor.
The art of sausage making has all but disappeared for most of us. If you’re a hunter, then you will either have your game made into sausage for you or learn to do it yourself. Even then you are missing out on the real treat, flavor.
The local game processor more than likely buys and then adds seasoning and preserving packets containing all the ingredients mentioned earlier.
I always used the stuffing tube on my Kitchen Aid meat grinder but with 25 pounds of ground meat looking at me, I decided to buy a 5 lb sausage stuffer from Cabelas, 12 miles away, so I didn’t have to wait for Amazon to have it delivered.
While shopping, I noticed a 10 to 12 foot section of wall with hundreds of little boxes with titles like, Cajun Andouille, Bratwurst etc, all with an ingredient list of chemicals that I can’t pronounce and a seasoning list that consists of ‘seasoning added’.
This is the reason why I called sausage making a dying art. Not the grinding and stuffing, but the chemical packets instead of spices.
I have mentioned that I use a cookbook of sausages. I believe it’s a great starting place and there are hours of just enjoyable reading as well. “Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing” Book by Rytek Kutas.
This isn’t the only sausage cookbook. There are many excellent ones available. But if you’re going to make your own sausage, then start with a cookbook, not a box of ingredients. Also make sure you read the recipes a couple of times before embarking. Mistakes have been made and with a little investigation, can be avoided.
We make Andouille and use a Food Network recipe from Emeril Lagasse. We love it, but the first batch was horribly over seasoned, we re read the recipe. The mistake is in the list of ingredients. They said.
- ½ cup Emerils Cajun Seasoning
They should have said.
- ½ cup Emerils Cajun Seasoning
Second, third, and fourth batches turned out fantastic.
Casings to use: We have always used natural 32-36 mm hog casing. While purchasing the 5lb stuffer I talked myself into using the artificial casings. Big mistake. Others may swear by them, but to me they are just junk. They may work well with high end equipment making a continuous link or equipment that automatically squeezes and cauterizes the casing into links. But if you’re going to twist your own links, then stay away from this stuff, as it splits, tears and just doesn’t want to be handled after the stuffing.
On twisting, if you’re going to smoke your sausage you can not twist into links and then hang, they will unwind. You must either smoke the links on racks or cook them on racks. Some sausage is water cooked, twisted links will unwind when floating in a hot water bath. I know.
If you want to hang your sausage, after all we always see sausage hanging, then I suggest you get a hand crimper and use sausage staples. After the smoking and removal from the smoker, you may cut off the metal clips.
I became so frustrated trying to spin sausage in and then out (sounds strange, but you spin link 1 up and away from you, link to 2 back and down towards you, repeat sequence for 3 and 4, etc.) it creates nice links only to have all that work undone during smoking or precooking. I searched YouTube to see how that store bought stuff looks so perfect. Prefect making sausage machines was the answer, machines that cost as much as a car does.
At least now I don’t have to feel apologetic when someone sees my home-made sausage.
I will also have a Smoker Primer posted in the near future. I have 3 different smokers and although they all will smoke the protein, they each work quite differently.
Hopefully the title will tell you what I think about that packaged stuff. In the past I have purchased off the shelf and it has always been disappointing. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that we decided to start making our own sausage, not just andouille but kielbasa, breakfast patties, stuffed pork sausage with jalapenos, the list goes on. Sure, you have to deal with casings, grinding meat and stuffing away, but the end results are sure worth it.
Sausage days are either when it’s gone and we need it or holiday meat sales. I was in the local supermarket and they had pork shoulder at $1.49 a pound, an okay price but to sweeten the deal it was buy one, get one. 2 little piggy’s came home with me.
One went into the freezer for some smoked pulled pork and the other for andouille.
I start by cutting the meat into 1 inch strips after removing the blade. Save the blade and all other bones for making your bone broth. You don’t make your own bone broth? Save the bones anyway and find some that does. Maybe they will share with you.
We use the greatest multi-tasker made, the Kitchen Aid mixer and a host of their attachments. It’s a great machine for the home cook. Grind the meat with a medium cutter and it goes pretty quickly. After grinding you mix in your seasoning. We use a slightly modified version or Emeril Lagasse’s Essence. We use 1/4 cup per 2 1/2 pounds of meat. You should then add 1/3 cup ice water (we use 1/3 cup red wine) per 2 1/2 lbs meat. Mix well and put back into the refrigerator for an overnight melding of flavors.
I suggest you start with Emeril’s Essence and then modify for taste or any other good Louisiana seasoning recipe. The secret to Andouille is like all Cajun and Creole cooking. Use what’s available and season to taste.
We cook with wine a lot, some of it even goes into the food.
- Ingredients for Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Day 2, set up the sausage stuffer and load your rinsed casing onto the tube. Although one can do the job, two makes it easier. We do a limp stuff instead of filling the casing, this allows us to tie off separate links (yes, we can spin, squeeze and reverse spin but it’s hard to get separate links that way). To help the casing slide off the tube keep dripping water onto it.
I like links around 1 foot or a little longer. When using in a recipe the 1 foot link is just about right.
Next comes the smoking, this is what makes or breaks the sausage. In the beginning I smoked the links at around 200° but the sausage cooked too quickly with getting enough smoke. Now it’s set for 160° and takes about 2 hours to finish. Perfect
This is a perishable product and we do not add nitrates so right into freezer for these.
We maintain an open comment policy, please feel free to start a discussion or tell us what you think about this article. No registration is required but we will police for profanity and trolls.