Sausage, a North Country Staple next to the Juicy Lucy. This delicate blend of spices, meats and fats make it perfect for grilling on cold winter nights or the hot summer months. So whether you want to make up the traditional bratwurst, or go with something crazier, this recipe is a good starting point. My local meat store carries over 100 types of sausage and will create any ideas you might have. For example, a Green Bay Sausage made with green bell peppers and cheddar cheese. Or how about a Vikings style with sautéed red cabbage and caramelized onions? Like Barbecue rubs, the possibilities are endless, and a quick web search will turn up hundreds of recipe ideas.
My first advice when taking on this dish is to make sure your meat is always cold. When the fat starts to warm up, it gets mushy, which means it will clog up the grinder. After you’ve ground the meat, place the bowl back in the fridge to allow the meat to cool down again. Think of this as a similar process for handling butter when making pie crust.
Second, use a real animal intestine for the casing. Collagen casings sound great in theory because you don’t have to wash them (and shouldn’t), but you end up having to tie up each end because the twists unravel. Plus, they casings cook up differently, so you can’t judge the food doneness by the casing alone. Just remember that most people are afraid to know they are eating intestines when they pick up their brat or hot dog, so try to avoid telling your spouse, partner, roommate, etc. that you are cooking with guts. 😛 As for choosing the right intestine for the job, I prefer hog or lamb casings for sausage.
1 Package of Hog Casings
2 pounds of Pork Shoulder
2 Pounds of Chuck Roast
1 Pound of Uncured Pork Belly (Check with your butcher or a local Asian market)
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Sage, Diced
1/2 Tablespoon of Fresh Oregano, Diced
1/2 Tablespoon of Fresh Thyme, Diced
1 Teaspoon of Granulated Garlic
4″ Stalk of Fresh Leek, Diced
1/2 Teaspoon of Chipotle Powder
4 Teaspoons of Sugar
4 Teaspoons of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Teaspoon of Fresh Ground Pepper
- Place a metal bowl into the sink and start running water. Take the hog casing out of the package and rinse thoroughly under the water to remove the salt. Leave the casing in the bowl to soak for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, change the water in the bowl and rinse the casings again. Let the casings rest for 30 more minutes.
- Start the faucet and open the end of the casing, allowing water to run inside the casing. Make sure to rinse the inside completely by pushing the water through the casing.
- Once water is inside the casing, pinch the end and then place the casing in the bowl of water while carefully swirling it around to untangle the casing. Again, make sure the inside is completely free of salt.
- Dump the water from the bowl and set the casing aside for later use.
- Chop the shoulder, chuck and belly into 1″ strips so that they easily fit into your grinder. You want the fat from the belly to keep the meat extra juicy.
- If you have a KitchenAid grinder, attach the grinder with the coarse plate installed and turn the mixer on to the 4 setting. Grind all of the meat into the mixing bowl. Once complete, place the bowl in the fridge while preparing the herbs.
- Dice up the fresh herbs and leek. Mix all of the remaining ingredients together with the meat, but use a folding motion. You don’t want to fat to warm up, and over mixing mushes everything together, removing air pockets and little chunks of fat and beef separately.
- Remove the coarse grinding plate and cutting knife from the grinder, and replace it with the white retainer bar before putting the ring back on.
- Lightly coat the stuffing tube with olive oil or coconut oil. Slip a small amount of casing onto the tube and push it to the back.
- Tie the end of the casing with cooking twine and then poke a hole in the end with a toothpick, so air is able to escape during the stuffing process (preventing meat from backing out of the grinder and having air pockets).
- Place a small amount of meat into the hopper and turn the KitcenAid back on to the number 4 setting.
- Using your fingers in one hand, hold the casing onto the stuffing tube while feeding the meat mixture down the hopper with the other hand. Failing to hold onto the casing will result in the casing falling off the stuffing tube.
- When the first batch is stuffed, twist each link 4-5 times, while alternating direction of the twist between each link.
- Either freeze the sausage using a vacuum sealer, or place the sausage in the fridge. Sausage stored in the fridge must be used within 3-4 days, or frozen.
- Slow smoke at 250° on an indirect smoker, such as the Big Green Egg, until the internal temperature reaches between 155-160° (follow the USDA guidelines)
- Grill the sausage at 325°, or pan fry them.
- Parboil the sausage first using a beer blend from the Wisconsin Beer Brats recipe and then grill them.