March really crept on me. It's one of those months where everyone is ready for it to be spring, but spring just won't come. Boston has been stuck in the gross 40s recently - gross 40s being those dreary days where it's not quite consistently sunny and sometimes there'll be a spot of rain or wind that makes the weather seem 10 degrees colder than it actually is. It's gotten to the point where I find myself perusing living social getaways in my down time (anyone want to go to Playa del Carmen?)
In my down time, I've found little projects here and there that cure idle hands. Baking bread, for example, or brewing beer. Sausage making has been on the list of to-dos for a while, and it wasn't until this past weekend that we finally got around to it. We started simple, with Hot Italian Sausage, but I really can't wait to try making Chorizo (and smoking it in the smoker I got Michael for Christmas!), bratwurst, and experimenting with different combinations. I hope you enjoy the pictures!
- 4 lbs pork (we used shoulder. Make sure there is at least 20% fat)
- 1 cup freshly chopped parsley
- 4 cloves freshly chopped garlic, minced tiny
- 1-cup cold red wine
- 4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2-3 tbsp fennel seed
- 2 tbsp crushed red pepper
- 4 tbsp paprika
- 1 packet all natural sausage casings*. (We did not use tubed casings, but would highly recommend these!)
*Our casings required soaking overnight so make sure to check your package and do so, if required.
First, if not cut into cubes already, do this. Make sure there are no little bits of bone in your meat.
Send it through the meat grinder. Ours had two settings, coarse or fine; we used the fine setting.
Now, measure out all your spices, chop your parsley, and mince your garlic.
When the meat is all ground up and placed in a big bowl, add the spices and work it with your hands so that the spices are evenly distributed. Drizzle the wine all over and incorporate that as well. Once this is done, cover up the bowl and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
While the mixture is refrigerated, you can prepare the stuffer. Get out your casings. Lubricate the tube so that it's easier to load the casings on, and then carefully slide them onto the tube. Leave the end open, since the first time you stuff the sausage, there will be a little air at the end and you'll need to squeeze that out.
If tying the casing is hard to do, use a piece of cooking twine and tie it off with that.
Once the mixture has done melding in the fridge, take it out, and fry up a little patty. Taste this, and adjust the spices if you need to. If you're satisfied with how it takes, load the meat into the stuffer. Take care to pack the meat in well - you don't want any air pockets in the stuffer at all!
Now, slowly, carefully start to stuff your sausage. The size will be up to you, but it's akin to blowing up a long balloon. Gauge how taut the skin feels with your hands, and pull out more casing if it looks like it's being overfilled. Practice makes perfect.
Next, twist the sausage to make links! The trick is to twist the first sausage away from you, the next one towards you, the next away, etc, so that they don't unwind as you twist each one. It also helps to pinch down on the twisted area to help the filling move aside for a bit. Go slow, taking care not to rip the casing.
Lastly, with a pin, pop any large air bubbles you see within the casing and press the air out. Sit back, pat yourself on the back, and fry up some of those links with some hot peppers, caramelized onions, and mustard.