Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How they turned out

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
By the way, this is the lunch I made myself with the sausages -- also featuring braised red cabbage and those little dumplings that come in a box. I think they're called Spaetzle.

Final verdict: pretty good! I of course always have criticism of my work (they burst out from the ends of the casings, which caused them to lose flavor), but for a first effort I'm pretty proud of myself.

Fear me.

Now that I've made sausages and survived (it wasn't as difficult or traumatic as everyone always suggests it will be), I find myself with an unshakeable hankering to make... haggis. What better way to get my Scottish on?

Burns Night is January 25th. I think that's enough lead time to find someone who will sell me sheep guts, isn't it?

Monday, August 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Arrange the links on a platter, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate a few hours (even overnight) to let the flavors get to know each other.

18. Snip apart

Snipped apart
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Snip the individual links apart and cut off the extra casing from each original end. I used kitchen shears, but apparently a sharp knife works as well / better.

17. Twist into links

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
When you've finished stuffing, take each long piece and twist it off into individual links. As you can see, my first pass wasn't particularly even.


Guide the casing
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Turn on your Kitchen Aid. Feed the meat mixture into the grinder slowly.

Using those stubby yet still dextrous fingers and the fat, somewhat square hands at the ends of your massive Deutsch forearms, carefully guide the sausages as they fill.

This is the moment of glory.

When you get near the end of a casing piece, carefully pull it off and set the sausages aside.

Repeat loading up some casing and carefully stuffing it until you've used all of your meat.

15. Tie off the end

Tie off the end
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Tie off the end of the casing, and we're ready to stuff!

So much excitement! It all comes down to this! etc!

The filling is ready!

Stuffing ready to go
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Here's what the final product looks like after the second grind.

Casings after final soaking

You can see how plump and supple the casings get after the final soaking.

14. Load the casings onto the funnel

Ready the funnel
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
If you're doing this with a Kitchen Aid, you have to take apart and reassemble your attachment so that it's set up to stuff and not grind. Once you've got that all ready, you open one end of a piece of casing, slide it onto the little funnel thing, and then just keep sliding more and more casing on there. It may help to grease the funnel before hand, but I didn't feel like it was necessary.

13. Grind again

Grind again
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Grind the meat and seasonings together, again using the fine disk.

Now is a good time to fry a small patty to make sure you like the seasoning balance.

12. Wait again

Let the meat freeze and the casings soak for 30 minutes (again).

I figured we didn't need to show my clever picture a second time.

11. Soak the casings again

Soak the casings again, this time with one tablespoon of vinegar for every cup of water. You don't have to use fancy vinegar, your basic distilled white works quite well. I just don't happen to have any in the house, so I'm using my least fancy apple cider vinegar.

Fully rinsed

Fully rinsed
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
This is what the casings look like after they've been fully rinsed. As you can see, they are starting to look much nicer than they did at the beginning of this project.


Rinse the inside
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
This is what the casings look like full of water. See, they go from horrible worms, to beautiful sea creatures...

10. Rinsing the insides of the casings

Ready to rinse again
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
The idea here is to run cool water through the casings. I was a little freaked by the idea of putting intestines directly on my faucet, so I used the stuffing funnel. Put one end of the casing on the end of the funnel, put the dish of the funnel up to the faucet, and SLOWLY turn on the water.

9. Freeze Again

Freeze Again
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Put the seasoned meat back in the freezer.

8. Blend

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Knead together the ground meat/fat and all seasonings (fresh, spices, salt and pepper).

The meat was so cold it made my hands hurt.

Also note in the background of some of these photos is a cook's best friend, a book stand.

7. Grinding, Part One

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Using the fine disk, grind your meat (and fat if applicable). Use the handy pusher to feed the meat into the grinder.

Otto sez:

"Whoa, just like Pink Floyd!"

6. Spices

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Grind your spices and set aside.

Actually I got lazy and used my coffee grinder that is only used for spices, but the mortar and pestle looked too cool to not include.

5. Chopping

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Chop the onion and sage (or whatever other fresh seasonings you're using) and set aside.

4. Wait

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Let the casings soak and the meat freeze for 30 minutes.

3. Rinse the casings

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Gently rinse the casings, smallish sections at a time (mine came conveniently pre-sectioned, I don't know if this is normal) under cool running water. Transfer them to a bowl, cover with more cool water, and let soak.


Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
This was the only part of this whole operation that I started to get squeamish. They looked like such gigantic horrible worms, and they were all covered with salt and this came from the inside of a pig and that's where the poo is made and... and...

I had to take a few deep breaths before going on. But once I was recovered I just took out about as much of the casing as I thought I would need (I ended up having too much, but I was hoping for that rather than too little) and got down to rinsing it.

2. Freeze

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Put the cubed meat in the freezer.

1. Cube the meat (and fat if using)

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Cut your meat into (approximately) 1-inch cubes. Ditto fat, if you're adding it.

Mise en place

Set up
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial
Part one: get all of your gear and ingredients ready.

For today, I used the following.


Kitchen Aid (artisan)
Meat grinder attachment for K.A.
Sausage stuffer attachment for K.A.
Mortar and pestle (which I eventually gave up on in favor of my coffee grinder that is only used for spices)
Measuring cups and spoons
One large ceramic bowl
One not quite as large stainless steel bowl
Two smallish glass bowls
Cutting board
Large, sharp knife
Kitchen shears
Sharp paring knife
Optional but helpful: kitchen scale

Natural piggy casings (I don't have a good sense of how much you need per amount of meat -- I bought enough for twenty pounds, so I used a little over a quarter of what I had)
6.5 lbs pork shoulder (it was quite fatty, so I opted not to add fat to my sausages)
1 walla walla sweet onion
1/2 oz fresh sage
1 T Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T mustard seed
1 t caraway seed

You will also need:
Some vinegar
Lots of water
Plenty of sanitizing hand soap

You may want:
Latex/neoprene/vinyl gloves

I found instructions in a book called "Home Sausage Making" that my wonderful mom gave to me.


Join us today as I will be posting frequent updates throughout the day on Operation: Sausage. That's right, folks, I've got pork shoulder, I've got casings, I've got a meat grinder, WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE???? I also have Hefeweizen and a proud German heritage.

Theoretically I'll be taking process pictures along the way, too.

It should be epic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I must be shriven

I have sinned: many times have I lied, before the Gods and to my fellow man. Many times I have said that I was happy, and I was not.

Never until yesterday had I even known what it was to be truly happy. Now I know, because now I have a food grinder (and optional sausage stuffer!!!) attachment for my Kitchen Aid, and using it was so amazing that I cried a little.

Ah! The day when I buy casings shall be epic!

The world may never be safe again. Where is my oompah music? The only thing that could make this joy more complete would be if I owned a smoker. Of course, I'm already trying to come up with ways to suspend things in my fireplace. I'll let you know how that goes (most likely result: eviction; second: death).