Wait, what? Didn’t I just make sausage a couple of weeks ago? I did, but that was starter sausage. This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to make sausage level 2, or stuffed sausage. We opted for the hot Italian sausage on page 122 of Ruhlman’s book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.
The process for stuffed sausage started the same as for patty sausage: cut the meat in chunks, season, CHILL, stuff into the grinder feed tube and grind, grind, grind (CHILL). Stuffed sausage employs an extra little attachment for the Kitchenaid (the sausage stuffer tube), and some sort of casing to hold the sausage. We opted for natural hog intestine casing from Eastman Outdoors.
The casings came packed in salt, and didn’t smell as unpleasant as I had been warned. I expected huge stinkiness (and apparently I had a matching look on my face upon opening the package), but the smell wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t nothing, but I’m pretty darn smell sensitive and it didn’t make my stomach turn. Almost, but not quite, and I was ready for it too.
The casings need to be split up into individual lengths (carefully. They came tied in a knot) and soaked for half an hour to overnight to rehydrate. Then, run water through once to open them up and get to stuffing.
I went a little too timid with the spicing for our sausage, because I wasn’t quite sure Hungarian hot paprika is in relationship to sausage. I’ve managed to render at least one dish just about unpalatable with the stuff, and as such, I had too light a hand and things never really got spicy enough. Good, but not quite that kick in the back of the throat we enjoy from a nice spicy sausage.
The texture was decent in our sausage, if a bit on the grainy side in the middle in some spots, and our links are full of air pockets and uneven, but this was all in all a good experience. Our butcher’s fresh Italian sausage is still much better, but ours is at least better than name brand store bought sausage can hope to be. And, it features real pig, a few herbs & spices, and nothing else. I have a feeling we’ll be branching out into quite the little sausage-making operation over the coming months (kielbasa!!!!!)
For our next round of sausage, we will be breaking the meat up into small batches to grind and storing them in the freezer until just about frozen before grinding. My DH (Darling Husband, aka the grind master) and I have a sneaking suspicion that grinding will go much faster and stuffing will be much easier if we get our meat even colder, especially when the auger in the grinder gets hot from use and the meat wants to smear all over the place.
We have eaten about half of our Italian sausage since its creation, and we just haven’t been able to get past one of our summer staples, Italian sausage dogs with a fresh ear of corn, some form of low fat chip or pretzels. This is our go-to I can’t be bothered-to-think-of-anything-else summer dish, and we love it. Maybe we will get around to doing something more exciting with our sausage with the next half.
This Sunday Pork Ragout recipe from Food52 looks awesome.