When I have some spare time I try to be constructive. The family likes sausage but its getting pretty pricey. I keep an eye out for the sales on meat and make my own. When shoulders and loins of pork go down to $2 per pound I'll buy a few and make enough sausage to last us for months. With sausage priced these days around $6 a pound it just makes sense to do this.
Garlic (lots of garlic)
Onions (I used 5 large)
Peppers (I used three large sweet colored)
Salt & pepper (I used pink Himalayan salt and Watkins ground black pepper)
Bottle of bourbon (Jim Beam)
A cutting board and knife
Baking trays and zip lock bags for freezing.
Step 1: Prepare the Work Area
I like to cut open a kitchen garbage bag and tape it to my counter. It makes the clean up easier.
Step 2: Set Up the Meat Grinder
This meat grinder was $99 and has lasted me over 16 years. I had a Waring Pro meat slicer but I wasn't as lucky with it. This unit is pretty simple to set up as you can see in the pics. I store the blade and plate in oil to keep them from rusting.
Step 3: Peel Lots of Garlic
Being a garlic farmer helps with this step. The cloves in the mesh bag were peeled. After that ,we decided to add more. The ones laying on the paper towel in the basket were also used. That would be half as much as was in the bag. This is the last of the garlic heads that were damaged in some way during this years harvest. Now we get to use #1 heads. YUM!!
Step 4: Onion Time
Five large onions, halved then cut in three. This size will fit into the grinder. Pull the onions apart and put them in a bowl with a plate on top.
Step 5: Pepper Time
The peppers need to fit into the grinder as well so I keep that in mind. They will store with the onions for now.
Step 6: Meat
I turned the longest loin pictured here down. It was freezer burned. I'll cook it up for the barn cats, but it has no place in my sausage. This is another reason to make your own, you know what's in it.
Step 7: De-bone and Chop
De-bone the shoulders and cut into strips that will fit the grinder. Cut away the fattier pieces and set them aside. Fat is needed in a sausage, I want to spread it evenly throughout the mix.
Step 8: Slice the Loin
I had hoped to have both loins to work with here,. but this one will do. As you can see a loin is much leaner. I'll mix it evenly with the shoulder and fat before grinding.
Step 9: Spread Meat Evenly
Now I spread out the loin strips, add in the shoulder meat ,then evenly spread the fat. Now as I work my way through the pile, it will grind evenly.
Step 10: Add Garlic
Now spread out the garlic cloves.
Step 11: Add the Peppers
Adding the peppers evenly makes it quite colorful.
Step 12: Add Onions
The onions are my last item before seasoning.
Step 13: Season to Taste
I've not measured how much salt & pepper I put on. I just kind of wing it. I wasn't to generous. You can't take it back out but you can add more at the table if you like.
Step 14: Bourbon Time
My friend Jim Beam is the last addition. I just drizzled it all over freehand. Probably a cups worth.
Step 15: Now I Grind
OK its back to the old grind. As I pull from the pile it makes room for the ground.
Step 16: And Thats That
As the ground pile grows, I gently drag it out to absorb the spices and juices. The bourbon that dripped through the pieces shouldn't go to waste.
Step 17: Clean Out the Last of the Meat
I use a piece of bread crust to push out the last of the meat. I do have a kid with a gluten intolerance so I watch closely. I hold my hand under the grinder and flip the switch. As soon as I see bread I pull my hand out and let the rest fall.
Step 18: Refrigerate
Half way there, or so. There's lots of clean up to do now. So I pop the sausage filling into the fridge.
Step 19: Cook and Clean
As I clean up the grinder and work surface, my wife cooks up a patty in the cast iron pan. We're both done about the same time. This is the chance to see if anything major needs to be done. We're pleased with the mix so we soldier on.
Step 20: Casings
Sausage casings come salted to keep them from spoiling. I go to my neighborhood butcher and buy them. His are loaded on a plastic tube that fits his stuffer in some way. It works fine with my setup as well. I soak them while I set up the stuffer.
Step 21: Let's Get Stuffed
This is a 15 pound capacity sausage stuffer. The plunger threads on and off for cleaning. Once I install the rubber seal onto it I rub a bit of lard on it. This makes it enter the canister easier when we begin.
Step 22: Load the Casing
The plastic tube of the stuffer is small enough to slip into the casing tube. Once I've slid the casings completely onto my stuffer tube, I can pull the plastic holder out. The waste plastic is open on one side allowing my thumb to hold my stuffer tube while I pull the plastic free.
Step 23: Meat Time
After attaching the tube of casings to the canister, the meat goes in. I push it into the exit hole then fill the canister. I leave a 2 inch minimum space at the top. If you don't ,the meat can squish out before the rubber seal enters the canister. Not a huge deal, but kind of messy.
Step 24: Prepare to Crank
Refrigerate the extra for later. There is a vent in the plunger that hangs down until it pushes down on the meat. With one hand lift it. With the other slide the canister into place. Now crank the machine until resistance is felt.
Step 25: Advance the Mix
I crank until the mixture is at the tip of the tube. I like to pull enough casing out so I can tie a knot as I begin stuffing.
Step 26: Get Crankin
This is one time I want my wife to be cranky. As she cranks ,I guide and twist sausage links. There's a bit of a trick to it. If you don't hold the end of the stuffer tube the mix will back up into the casing around the tube. If you hold to tightly the pressure can burst the casing. It doesn't take to long to get the hang of it. When your partner works well with you ,it helps a lot. Stopping when you turn the sausage into a link and start again when you're ready in a timely manner makes this go pretty quickly.
Step 27: Cut and Release
I find this mix to be fairly wet. Lots of onion, garlic, and pepper juice. As well as the bourbon. Every once and a while I'll cut the links away and bleed out the liquid collecting in the casing. Not a big deal, Just some lost time.
Step 28: Time for a Refill
Once the crank won't crank any more its time to refill the canister. I take care of that while my lovely wife bags the finished sausages in freezer bags and adds them to the deep freeze. The first pressing gave us 32 sausages. The next round won't give us as many.
Step 29: Last Pressing
Our last batch was only half the canister. We added another 12 to the deep freeze and kept 4 back to cook.
Step 30: Stuffing by Hand
The last bit of mixture gets collected and I stuff it by hand. I push a bit at a time until there's nothing left. A paper towel and a wooden spoon handle does the last push. The pic of that setup isn't all that great.
Step 31: Cook and Clean
With the paper towel sausage cut away, the count is 48. We'll cook up 4 for today's dinner while we clean up.
Step 32: Let's Eat!
I can't wait to fire up the barbecue, but for now, oven baked will have to do.
Step 33: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Here are a few ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Breakfast sandwich. Served with, sausage slices, hash browns and mushrooms fried up crispy.
Panini sandwich. Sausage slices on a bed of sprouts topped with cheese and hot sauce wrapped and grilled.
Sausage with green beans and egg noodles in a white sauce.
We have 5 kids. Our meal plan has always been, make lots when ever you have the time. It will always get eaten. A fridge full of leftovers makes meal prep a breeze. Use your imagination, throw it together quickly and nuke it.
On Sunday make a huge feast. Enough to generate plenty of leftovers. This is a good time to have everyone join together at the table for family time.
Runner Up in the
Meal Prep Challenge