Making sausage can be as simple or complicated as one might like. When working in a home kitchen, there are a few tools you need to get started. Even before that, one of the most crucial components is having a plan. You can certainly free form and craft your recipes based on what you have on hand, but having the steps and ingredients worked out will result in a better end product. Once you’re prepared, the three most fundamental ingredients of making sausage can be boiled down to three: meat, salt, and technique.
Sausage Equipment for the Home Kitchen
The costs can add up pretty quickly when buying equipment for sausage making. If you are serious about making it at home, we recommend the first piece of equipment is a decent stuffer. We use an FDick brand stuffer and have had it for many years. The kitchen-aid also has tools and attachments that can be used for making sausage, however they do come with some caveats. If you would like to skip both of those options, you can even use a piping bag or funnel to stuff the farce (meat mixture) into casings, but the job will be more difficult and take longer. When making hot dogs or finer emulsified sausages, it will also become necessary to use a food processor or similar unit to create the right consistency. Our recommendation is to begin with a decent stuffer, and if possible, a grinder, but as you will read below, you can also have your local butcher grind meat upon request.
Buying Meat for Sausage
Realistically, any type of meat can be used to make a good sausage. Trim, offal, and other parts are good options, but there are certain muscles that are superior in texture and flavor, making them ideal for sausage making. Pork shoulder is one of those muscles, specifically the picnic, or lower shoulder. Regardless of what you are using, a good ratio to follow is 80% lean and 20% fat. We recommend having meat ground for you on the spot from your local butcher, rather than buying pre-ground meat. Even better, invest in a grinder for your home kitchen and do the grinding yourself. This way you can begin to understand the process from start to finish and better control the amount of protein and fat being used.
Grinding Meat for Sausage
Many people use their kitchen-aid and grinding attachments to grind meat for sausage. While this is a manageable option, you need to cater the preparation of the meat for these circumstances. Cutting the meat into pieces that are smaller than the grinder shaft will be important. For a kitchen-aid, this means the meat will have to be pretty small dice, possibly 1/2 inch. Another important step is to make sure the meat is quite cold. We recommend the open freeze method. Once your meat is cubed to the appropriate size, place it on a tray or surface and stick it in the freezer. Let the tops of the meat get frosty with a bit of crunch, but you don’t want the meat actually frozen. Once it’s nice and cold, you may grind it. Ideally your grinding blade is nice and sharp. Otherwise it may end up pulverizing the meat and destroying the cell structure rather than cutting it.