How To Make Sausage – AKA “The Other Bacon”
First there was darkness. Then God boomed;
“LET THERE BE SAUSAGE!”
And he looked at the sausage and thought; “this is good”.
To ensure the secret of sausage be passed to mortal man, the Lord created the butcher, and he saw that it was good. And so, it came to be that the butchers went amongst man to deliver the secrets of sausage. And man was happy.
There are an infinite number of points on a circle; so there are an infinite number of sausages. There are so many varieties of sausage all over the world that it would be impossible to list them all. They beauty of the sausage link is that the can be made of whatever one desires. The act of stuffing meat into a casing makes it sausage. Or not stuffing it, but merely combing ground meats and spices and pressing it through a tube can be a sausage, or molding it by hand. Get the idea? It can be whatever you want and there is no wrong way.
Making your own sausage is simple and doesn’t require much. Assuming you have a standard kitchen with knives and bowls the biggest expense will be a sausage press and that can run from $90 to $500 depending on what you want to accomplish. For the average home sausage maker, an LEM vertical sausage stuffer with a 5-lb. hopper will do nicely. The vertical stuffer comes with a crank handle that offers smooth control for consistent pressure.
If the force and pressure that is being applied to the stuffer are not consistent, or there are air pockets in the press, the links coming out will burst and you will have to start over. Or, there will not be an equal fill of meat in the casing and it will have pockets of air. For a skinless sausage, this is not an issue of course.
A meat grinder is not a necessity because most all meats can be bought already ground up, but if you have some leftover cuts at home you want to grind up and add to the batch it comes in handy. Depending on how much work you want to do there is a manual grinder available for 20 bucks. Make no mistake, it is work. It is easiest to grind the meat frozen and in pieces small enough to fit in the grinder.
Here is what you need to get started:
- Any ground meat- beef, pork, lamb, chicken, whatever you want. I have used pheasant before. It will be necessary to de-bone any meat still on the bone.
- Meat grinder- if meat is not already ground
- Sausage press
- Large mixing bowl- plastic dish tubs work great if making a lot of sausage.
- Natural casings- if the recipe calls for it. This can be secured at any butcher shop.
There is a skinless variety of sausage that is popular in the Balkans, the Serbian people call it “cevapcici”. Traditionally it is made from beef and pork, but lamb is often used instead, or, in addition. This is an easy recipe and ideal for beginners because it doesn’t involve casings. A skinless sausage will allow for learning how to use the press and how fast to turn the crank.
This recipe is mostly ground pork, but also ground veal, lamb shanks that were de-boned, and a lamb liver. The idea behind the liver was that in the old days’ people had to use whatever disgusting part of the animal they could. Liver has a distinct flavor that lends itself nicely to this recipe.
A good habit is to combine all the meat in a bowl with a dash of salt and let it co-mingle for 24 hours, letting the flavors get to know one another.
1 lb. ground beef
2 lbs. ground pork
1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
1/2 lb. ground veal
1 ground lamb liver
After the meat has sat overnight, and you are ready to get started, combine all the other ingredients in the bowl. Pull out a handful of meat and add half of the spices. Put the handful back into the bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. This is so they are not piled on top of the meat and spread throughout better. Then plunge your hands in there and start mixing.
1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. hot smoked paprika
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp baking powder
After the meat has been mixed, take a small amount out and cook it in a hot pan so you can sample it. If you want more salt, add it. If you want more garlic, add it. It’s all to taste and there is no wrong way.
Once satisfied with the flavor grab a handful of the mix and shape it into a good-sized meatball and load it into the sausage press. Take a fist and gently push it down to remove any air pockets. When done it should no longer be a ball, but a mass of meat.
Crank the handle so that the top of the press touches the meat. Continue to crank, slowly, until you see the meat begin to fill the tube and stop once it comes right to the end. Place a hand over the opening of the tube and crank the handle to build up some pressure. This will make the meat denser in the tube, and produce a more solid link.
Now remove the hand and crank the handle until a link emerges 6-8” long. Use a sharp knife to cut it off. Repeat until all the meat has been pressed out and reload the hopper and continue.
As the links are being cut, place them side by side on a sheet of wax paper that has been lightly brushed with olive oil. They won’t stick to the paper during freezing.
The best way to prepare these is to grill them over charcoal and serve them with fresh chopped onion, raw.
Good luck and congratulations on the beginning of your sausage making career.