01 June 2010

Sausage Making

Last week I took another fantastic class at the Culinary Institute of Virginia's Casual Gourmet.  The class was How to Make Mozzarella & Sausage.  I was on the phone early the next morning in search of hog casings to make sausage for the holiday weekend.  I lucked out and found 2 local meat packers that carry them in stock! 

The recipes from the class can be found here.

The at home sausage making experience was shockingly simple, although messy.  Make sure you have assistants, as you need a lot of hands to stuff the sausage using the KitchenAid attachment.

Jenny's Sausage
2 lbs pork butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
garden fresh herbs--marjoram, parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage
1 tsp chipotle powder
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
hog casings

Rinse casings in fresh water and soak for at least 30 minutes.  This helps dilute the salt coating. 

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Using KitchenAid meat grinder, pass mixture through the large disk first, then the small disk.  Let fall into a bowl surrounded by a bowl of ice.  This keeps the mixture very cold and makes it easier to work with.

Slowly feed casing onto large KitchenAid sausage stuffer tube, minimizing air pockets.  With KitchenAid running, slowly pass ground meat mixture into the tube, working quickly and efficiently to minimize air build up in the sausage.  Allow sausage to lie on flat surface and section into ideal sizes. 

Bake sausage in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 145.  If needed, prick air pockets.  Finish sausage on grill or open fire. 

Important Notes
  • Keep meat cold!  Do this by working quickly and keeping your bowl nestled in a bowl of ice.  If you have a fine enough ice crusher, add crushed ice while you are grinding the meat.  This adds moisture and keeps it super cold.  Be careful, though, my fridge crushed ice was not fine enough.
  • Pricking the sausage is the last think you want to have to do.  Minimize air pockets and do not use a fork to handle the sausages.  Holes cause the juices to run out and the sausage to become dry.
  • Before feeding onto the tube, find the end of the casing and allow water to run into it.  This helps untangle the casing.
The one disappointment of the class was that we didn't make our own curds for the mozzarella.  I have unsuccessfully made mozzarella twice, so I was really hoping this class would help me.  The Chef teacher said that I probably didn't let the milk sit long enough to fully curdle.  So, I will be tackling the recipe again later this week.