I am a meat lover. Eating good quality meat makes me feel alive, healthy, and strong. Our family has worked hard to find sources of meat that we can feel good about – pasture raised, organic feed, locally grown, etc.
For a few years, we raised our own pigs and had them custom butchered for ourselves and a few friends. This was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to raise pigs again. But circumstances prevented this last summer, so we went in on a hog with some friends and have been happily enjoying delicious pork all year.
A large piece of leg in our freezer beckoned to be turned into sausage, so we spent an evening last week making Sweet Italian Sausage, and Mexican Chorizo (with recipes adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn).
The process of sausage making is really pretty simple, but it can seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Here is the process of sausage making, in photos:
First, the meat and fat are cut into pieces to be ground. It is easier to grind them if they are still a little bit frozen.
Next, we use this meat grinder to make ground meat, to which we added a blend of herbs and spices. We did 5 pound batches of each of the Italian sausages and the chorizo.
The seasoned ground meat goes into the sausage stuffer. Now, this sausage stuffer is an antique that Brian hunted for on eBay. I think the date on it is 1886. It is sturdy and HEAVY and can also handle larger batches of sausage – maybe 10 or 15 lbs. However, I recently learned that you can purchase the exact same sausage stuffer new, under the name of Chop Rite. Other options for stuffing sausage, include attachments that can fit on mixers or grinders.
Next, you slip the casings onto the stuffer. These are purchased casings, although you can make your own. Here is a tutorial for doing it yourself.
As you slowly turn the stuffer crank, the meat fills the casings and you get a nice long, continuous roll of sausage.
Lastly, we twist the sausages into individual links. This 5 lb batch of Italian sausage made about 2 dozen links. The chorizo was left in the ground form, so we can scramble it with eggs or make breakfast patties. We store our sausage in small freezer bags, usually 4 to a bag, so we can take one bag out of the freezer, and enjoy a meal!
And to take it to the next level, here is a post about Homestead Meat Curing!