Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Glorified Home Chef Jason Goertz Shows Chef Erin How to Make and Stuff Italian Sausage

Jason Goertz, The Techy Chef, and my featured Glorified Home Chef, showed me several sausage recipes (see Breakfast Sausage). I think my favorite was the Sweet Italian Sausage because I got such a kick out of stuffing the casings. I hadn't made sausage since culinary school so it was really fun to get a refresher course from such a knowledgeable sausage maker.

I called my dad afterward to ask if he had the KitchenAid Food Grinder and Sausage Stuffer Attachment. (Looks like I know what I'm getting him for Christmas!) I know he'd get as much of a kick out of it as I did. So, check out the video first and then the recipe is laid out below.

If you are interested in learning more about sausage making and other sausage recipes, Jason recommended a couple other sites including Sausage Recipe - Formulations and The Spicy Sausage.

Sweet Italian Sausage

Adapted from The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith
Makes about 8 to 10 sausages

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 lbs coarsely ground pork shoulder, chilled*
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup ice water
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Hog casings, soaked (optional)

Use a spice mill or mortar and pestle to coarsely grind the fennel seeds and bay leaves. Be sure that the bay leaves are well crushed so that you aren't left with large pieces.

Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl. Spread the crushed garlic over the ground meat.

Place the ice water in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add the red pepper flakes, black pepper, ground fennel and bay leaves, and salt. Stir to blend. Pour mixture evenly over the pork.

Sprinkle the parsley across the meat. Use your hands to mix in the ingredients. Be sure that the spices are evenly distributed throughout the ground pork.

Cover the sausage mixture and place it in the refrigerator. Chill for 2 to 24 hours. At this point the bulk ground sausage can be fried or simmered in a sauce.

If you plan to make Italian sausage links, we recommend using natural hog casings, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. All hog casings come packed in salt and sealed in a vacuum pouch. Natural hog casings come in bundles or hanks of between 14-18 strands. Most places that sell casings will tell you how many pounds of sausage a particular order (length) will stuff. Since this is a small recipe, you’ll only need one or two casings.

For best results soak the casings overnight in a bowl of water. Before using the casings, rinse them out by putting one end over a funnel and pouring lukewarm water through them several times. Place the rinsed casings in a bowl with fresh warm water. Remove the casings from the water one at a time, as needed. Store unused natural casings in a brine solution or well salted in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. NEVER freeze casings.

Assemble your KitchenAid sausage stuffer attachment or other sausage stuffer. Lightly oil the extruder tube. Feed a piece of casing onto the sausage extruder tube, leaving only an inch or two of the casing hanging off the end of the stuffer. Tie a knot in the end of the casing.

With the mixer on the slowest speed, take small handfuls of the sausage mixture and feed them into the hopper of the sausage grinder. Use the tapper to push the sausage through. You’ll get a little air that fills up the casing like a balloon at first. You can prick the casing to release the air. Hold the casing in place until the sausage begins to fill it, then slowly guide the filled casing off the extruder. This might require two people; one person to add meat into the hopper, and one to hold the sausage as it comes off the stuffer. Continue to fill the casing as evenly as possible. Leave about 4 inches of empty casing on the end so that you’ll have room to work when twisting the links.

Coil the sausages on a sheet pan and puncture any visible air bubbles. Starting at the knotted end of the sausage, measure off the desired length, usually about 4 to 5 inches. Squeeze to mark the end of the first sausage and then twist between the first and second sausages about three times. Measure another length, squeeze and twist again, alternating the directions in which you twist. At the end of the chain of sausages, tie a knot after the last sausage.

For best results, refrigerate the sausages, uncovered, overnight before cooking. Cook as desired – poach, grill, pan-fry or simmer in your favorite pasta sauce.

Note: This is small recipe for making sausages. Since making sausage can be a bit labor intensive, you may want to increase the amount and make 5 to 10 pounds of sausage at a time.

*We started by grinding our own pork shoulder with a KitchenAid Food Grinder but you can also simply purchase ground pork, or even ground chicken or turkey, if you prefer. 

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