Saturday, May 14, 2011

Going Whole Hog - Fresh Sausage

May's Charcutepalooza challenge was fresh sausage. When we got our pig we specified that we didn't want any of it made into sausage, bacon or ham because we wanted to do it ourselves.

OK, I do have to share something about these challenges. To us they really, truly are a challenge. We can't just go to the grocery store and buy whatever we want to make something truly inspiring and creative. We have to stick to the basics and what we have here or can get from specialty markets - which, quite honestly, isn't very much. Sometimes it's very basic.  When July 1st comes we may even be forced to skip challenges depending on what they are since we won't be buying any food at all. We'll be at the mercy of what we have in our pantry.

Our chest freezer is packed with large cuts of meat such as pork shoulder, which is perfect for making sausage as it has the perfect ratio of muscle to fat - 25-30% fat is the target. Unfortunately the piece we pulled out to defrost wasn't a full 5lbs which was called for in the recipe. It also was bone in, which I had to remove. I did have some pork trim that I had pulled out though which could make up the difference in weight.

I diced the pork shoulder and added my spices. I was tempted to go with a hot Italian sausage but decided to go with our favorite spice mix - Cajun Seasoning from Whole Spice Company. I mixed it 40 grams of kosher salt and 2 heaping tablespoons of the Cajun Seasoning. 

The most important aspect of making sausage is to keep it extremely cold - almost freezing. After seasoning the meat I stuck it in our chest freezer for a couple of hours, checking on it periodically to make sure it wasn't freezing solid. I also put the metal parts of the grinder in the freezer to get them ice cold.

We luckily had a meat grinder - a really good one that can grind a whole chicken, bones and all - which made this process pretty easy. We ground the spiced meat into our stand mixer's bowl which was placed in ice water to help keep the meat cold.

Once all the ground meat was in the bowl we mixed the sausage with the stand mixer, adding 1 cup of ice cold water. We mixed the ground meat until it became tacky. We made a small patty so we could check the seasonings. They were ok, but we thought we needed something else. We added 2 tablespoons of fennel seed and then stuck it back into the freezer to get cold again.

After soaking hog casings (the inner membrane of a hog's intestine) we stuffed the sausage. Definitely could use some more practice with making the sausage more even. Not bad for the first time though.

So what to do with our first meal of fresh homemade sausage? Put them on a bun of course!

I made some buns which were done rising right before we ground the meat.

  We browned up the sausage nicely. Tom added some water to the pan to deglaze it and then cooked up some kale from our garden in it. It came out incredibly tasty.

Our sausage on a bun. Actually the buns were huge so we put two sausages on one bun. We then added some homemade sauerkraut, grilled onions and homemade ketchup. We served it up with the sausage basted kale. A very nice, homey meal. We still have 23 more sausages. We'll see how long they last....


  1. Why does the sausage have to be kept so cold in the making? Is it just because it takes so long?

  2. Hi Christina! It has to be kept really cold in order for it to bind correctly. If it's not cold the meat and fat will separate and when cooked it will become dry and crumbly.

  3. Oh my gosh! That looks delicious!

  4. Looks like a pretty great job to me...

  5. Lovely post. I love the way you incorporate the challenges into your ongoing challenge, and I have total meat grinder envy!

  6. Where are you getting your flour at? I would love to go "groceryless" but thats the one item I can't find locally produced or at a farm stand...

  7. @Melissa, we get our flour from a buying club that sources local products. Check out UNFI or Frontier Coop - they might be able to show you where you're closest Coop or buying club is. Another option is to go to your local Mormon Home Storage Center even if you're not Mormon you can usually buy bulk foods at cost.

  8. Hi...Your post really got me thinking man..... an intelligent piece ,I must say. Get more information about Meat Mincer Mixer .