The Therapy of Sausage Making

I was hesitant to even post about this.  What I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and find comfort in watching Biggest Loser on my DVR while eating a massive bowl of ice cream.  I felt I had to just suck it up and post this. Without posting it tonight I feel the raw emotion that brought me to even make sausage tonight, would be lost.

I had a bad day.  A really really bad day.  One of those days where the work on your desk grows and suddenly your help starts to shrink.  Every time one thing got finished, a new one appeared.  Sometimes even before things finished there was something new.  I literally had to run away from someone today too!  Even better – I continuously yelled “No! Go away!” No joke, stop laughing.

A few hours into my day I decided I had to find something that would make me happy and just make that my focal point.  What makes me happier than anything? Sausage.  I didn’t want to just eat sausage, I wanted to make sausage.  I had bought a pork shoulder and everything on Sunday with the hopes of making my sausages, but I have a huge habit of trying to fit too much into one day. Maybe if this wasn’t a habit of mine, I may not have had such a rough day? Hmm.

Once I had this idea in my head I tried to let everything roll off my shoulders the best I could and just work quickly so I can high tail it out of there and just make my delightful porky packages.  There came a point after 5:00pm came and went that I had to decide how long can I keep doing this and keep feeling miserable?  All I can think of is “What if I get home and I am just too tired to cook”, this just couldn’t be an option.  The only chance I get to really clear my mind is when I get to cook.  I decided around 5:30 that I had to just surrender and back away.

I went next door to the catering building I work in and picked up some brisket trimmings that the manager had kindly let me take off his hands.  We have been experimenting with what we can do with brisket trimmings instead of just throwing them away.  I was able to grab a small bag of it to cut up along with my pork shoulder I bought Sunday.  I zoomed home excited that my plan might get me out of my funk.  I stepped inside, and didn’t even last minutes until I burst into tears.  Letting go of the woes of the day.  After my pity party, off to sausage I went.  Time to be a big girl and make some sausages!

I apologize that I do not have a recipe to go with this.  Sausage isn’t one of those things that always requires a recipe.  It’s one of those wacky things that whatever you have on hand is just fine.  Well, I guess to and extent.  It’s more of a method than a recipe, and im sorry to those of you who hate people who say that.  It’s true though! All you need for sausage is:

  • Cubed Meat – Mainly pork but beef can be mixed in.  Chicken if you’re a communist.
  • Fat – Pork belly (PIGGY TUMMY) or in my case I used brisket fat
  • Seasonings – No need to fuss here if mixing spices isn’t you’re thing.  I used a pre-made rub for beef.
  • Binder – I usually used water, but I used beer today for extra flavor.

My little begger

And thats it!  Pretty simple.  The key to making sure your sausage comes out right is to assure everything is ice cold!  If you do not follow this step, your sausage will come out with a mealy texture that isn’t a very appealing mouth-feel.  The flavor will probably be good still, but the texture will be off.  To assure things stay cold I will put whatever meat im not using into the freezer.  As I cut up my brisket fat, I kept the shoulder in the freezer.  When I was cutting up my shoulder, I put the brisket fat back into the freezer.  I know they say you shouldn’t re-freeze meat, but this isn’t staying in until it completely freezes. This is just to assure its staying very cold.

Once all your meat is cubed up.  Run it through your meat grinder with the plate that has the biggest holes first.  Mine only has 2 sizes so once it runs through the first one, go to the next size.   Season up your meat however you’d like.  Patty a small bit and cook it up to assure you like the flavor.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  When you like the flavor add your binder until its squishy but not watery.   When you got the grind size you want, and the flavors you like then its time to stuff.  If that’s what you want to do that is.  At this point you can just use it as bulk sausage for pastas, sauces or even make sausage burgers.  I cased mine in natural hog casings.  I attached my sausage stuffer and went at it.

The only annoying issue with stuffing in hog casings is finding holes.  It definitely makes my relaxing zen moment of sausage making back into a rage filled tizzy.  As sausage started bursting out of tiny holes I took a deep breath and either cut it off there, or just did a twist and kept trudging on.  Don’t cry over burst sausages people.  I will admit there were many times where i almost ripped off the sausage and almost called it quits, but I didn’t.  This was happy time darn it!  I did finish my sausage and I was very happy I did.  I do plan on smoking it tomorrow if I get the opportunity.

Mission accomplished.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.  If it isn’t then..

I’m gonna have more sausage than I know what to do with…