Springtime is for Sausages

I know uncooked sausage doesn’t really look that appealing, but due to the hours of labour I put into my first-ever attempt at sausage making, this image is close to my heart.

Behold, my first sausages: what was once 11 pounds of pork shoulder butt and various spices, transformed into links of relatively uniform size.

A few weeks ago I found the food grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid on sale. To me, this meant freedom (from buying store-bought sausages)! I’ve never been that happy with store sausage; they’re always too salty or too fatty or you’d bite down on those little unidentified hard things that would ruin the whole sausage experience. Also, the flavours available aren’t all that interesting, and I’ve never found an Italian sausage that really measured up to what I thought it should be.

After doing some research about what kind of meat to use, what to do with casings, and finding some great recipes (http://thespicysausage.com/sausagemakingrecipes.htm), I decided to give it a shot. I found a store in the city that carries natural casings (Clarence Avenue Market in Saskatoon), and the helpful butcher provided me with 11 pounds of pork.

I decided to try and make the Hot Italian recipe and the Spicy Chipotle Cheese recipe from the Spicy Sausage website. I cut up my meat into smaller pieces and mixed in the spices right away, then stuck the bowl in the freezer for half an hour, after which I coarsely ground the meat. I had read that the meat would grind easier when almost frozen and I found that to be an important detail the hard way. I started with the meat not that cold and I ended up having to disassemble the grinder a few times to clean it, which I didn’t have to do when the meat was almost frozen. Because of this, the Chipotle batch ended up with a nicer grind than the Italian sausage. Filling the casings was quite easy once I got the hang of it, and winding the links after the entire casing was filled tightened up the links so they weren’t loose.

The results were much better than I expected. Sometimes you decide to make something from scratch and it just doesn’t turn out as good as you hope it will or the time and effort isn’t worth the result. However, this experiment was quite successful. I don’t think I will ever buy sausage again. The time investment was definitely worth it, and making 11 lbs of sausage cost less than buying the same amount in a store; I think I got about 50 links of sausage from the 11 lbs of pork. When you make your own, you know exactly what goes into your sausage: you control the salt, the fat, plus there’s no preservatives or fillers (or unknown factory contaminants). And the possibilities are endless… lemon pepper, rosemary and garlic, beef and tomato, curry, Thai…

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