I have to confess YES I love sausages. But they must be delicious, moist, packed with flavour, use the best ingredients or more to the point I just have to know exactly what is in them. Oh and always gluten free for me! I truly cringe at the thought of ‘mystery’ non descript, cheaper than cheap, bad (as I call them) run of the mill varieties… and the additives, goodness I do not want to even think about it.
So, yes we all want the quality ones and home made, well that’s easy – particularly with your KitchenAid standmixer, food grinder and sausage attachment!
Sausage making has a history that is a couple of thousand years old and originally was all about economical butchery! Often using all sorts of bits (again lets not talk about it).
Yes let’s keep it economical, but fresh, as lean as possible and flavour packed. Your kids will also love to be part of this. My two love it.
- Chat with your butcher about variety, flavours etc. There are better cuts of meat to use. Don’t go too lean. The cooked sausage will have an awful dry bland texture without some natural fat. I always add pork fat…. For me it adds the texture and flavour I like. The ratio is really up to individual taste, but around 25 % fat. Much of this will be cooked off (see below)
- Skins: decide on which type you like, can find or use easily!
Natural casings – they may need washing and rinsing but this is not hard. Cut into a length of about 1 metre (they can be metres and metres long), thread straight onto the cold water tap on your sink and gently turn on the cold water. They will fill with water and clean. Pop them into a bowl of lightly salted water and refrigerate until using.
Synthetic – there are some that are better than others. Some are made of natural ingredients like seaweed, then man made into a skin, others are made from the collagen from beef and there are also the real synthetic skins. These are like an edible form of plastic. Cheap and nasty paper feeling skins are not for me. I also find them harder to use as they split very easily.
Chat with your butcher and get the tips and advice! But unless the skins are natural (from intestine) keep them DRY or they fall apart.
Skinless – yes of course you can make a skinless sausage. You will need to form them and refrigerate before cooking or they will fall apart during cooking.
3. Flavours – the list is endless. But initially keep it simple and master the craft! Stick to two or three basic flavours and foods that naturally mix. Beef and mustard, pork and cranberry or sage, lamb and oregano etc.
4. Bread crumbs or eggs? Sometimes yes, but keep it to a minimum and I always like to moisten the bread crumbs first – this gives a much nicer end texture.
5. Have everything ready to go. The meat mixture thoroughly mixer, the skins (cleaned if required), a tray or large platter for formed sausages, scissors for trimming and keep it all clean – sausage making can get messy. Some people like to wear disposable gloves. I just fill the sink with hot water to wash and dry hands often.
6. Grab a second pair of hands – kids, husbands, etc. Definitely easier to have someone adding the meat mixture, while you form the sausage.
7. Lightly oil the sausage tube with veggie oil and gently push the plenty of skin onto the tube. You can form one long sausage and then twist into links (twisting in a different direction for each link, which stops them unravelling), or twist and form as you go. I like to form a long sausage and then twist. Remember to keep a little casing at the end unfilled so you can seal or knot the end.
8. Start slow – set the mixer to speed 2. As all goes well move up to speed 4, 6 or by speed 8 – boy are you an expert!
9. Grind the meat using the course blade and thoroughly beat all the ingredients using the flat beater until the mixture is sticky! Once sticky the protein has been developed and the sausage will stay together and have a better eating texture.
10. Don’t over fill the sausage – too firm will cause spilling. Too soft will have too much air and these air pockets will also split during cooking.
11. Par boiling – a definite for me. I place the freshly made sausages into the fridge for an hour or so to firm up (if time allows). Place into a large saucepan and fill with cold water. Partially cover with a lid and bring to a gentle simmer. Once water is simmering, turn off the heat and let stand 5 minutes. Drain and refrigerate until ready to cook. (within 24 hours). This par cooking removes the excess fat, firms the sausages and means grilling, pan frying or BBQ is quick. They really only need to cook until golden. Of course you can also freeze them at this stage too.
Home made sausages are easy, once mastered! Yes often initially it can get messy and if too over fill the skins they will split and chaos sets in. Have every thing ready to go, work methodically and with a second pair of hands – it is quick! But most importantly you know exactly what is in there and the flavour creations are endless. Soon you will master the craft.