Fri Jul 27, 2007
I'm on a roll with this sausage making. Maybe I should reconsider changing this here blog to the Sausagewave, as there is no end in sight. If you'll indulge me once again for another venture into the land of sausage, I'll tell you a tale of two sausages you probably already know quite well, and if you don't, please let me introduce Mr. and Mrs. Sweet and Hot Italian Sausage.
I don't know about you, but the first thing that comes to mind when anyone mentions sausage is the Italian variety. That probably would have been the best place for me start on my quest for brilliant homemade sausages, but I can get good Italian sausages all over, while the specialty varieties tend to unfairly brake the bank. This doesn't mean that making Italian sausage was ever off my radar, as I still believed that making my own would out do those store bought, it just wasn't as big of a priority. The time came to tackle the sausage I know the taste of best, and since I doubted I needed 5 lbs of sweet Italian sausage, I decide to go 1/2 and 1/2 on the meat and make both sweet and hot sausages.
It started with putting together the spice mixtures for each respective sausage. I have come to be slightly wary of recipes from my sausage book, since they tends to be an overload on spices that I don't think is necessary. So I started with the most simply recipes for each sausage I could find online, and then built my own based on other online recipes and my sausage cookbook, thinking about the flavors I most associate with Italian sausage. Once I had my recipes down, I started mixing the dry ingredients into two bowls.
It's important to mix the spices before working with the meat, as the fat begins to soften, and even melt, quicker than you would think at room temperature. I didn't remove the pork butt from the fridge until all other ingredients were prepped. I asked my butcher for the fattiest pork butt he could find, since my previous sausage attempt was little dry due to lack of fat. Most Italian sausage recipes did not call for extra pork fat beyond that already found in the butt, so I decided it was safe to go with that fat alone, probably around 15%/85% mix of fat to pork.
Working quickly, I cubed the meat and sent it through the coarse plate of my meat grinder. Once the meat was ground, I divided it evenly into two bowls, 2 1/2 lbs of ground pork in each. Then I mixed in the spices and cold liquids until the meat looked perfectly seasoned. While I stuffed the sweet sausages, I kept the hot sausage mixture in the fridge to stay cool. No new reports on sausage the stuffing process, it went fairly smoothly with only minor frustration with 1 or 2 casing rips.
Sausages stuffed, it was time to grill. I did not bother parboiling these, as I have never parboiled fresh Italian sausage from the store before. They went straight on the hot grill and took about 15-20 minutes to cook completely. To my dismay, the first bit of the sausage, although delicious, was once again a tad dry. I underestimated the importance of fat yet again. When will I ever learn that pork fat can be nothing but a good thing? I think the recipes I developed for seasoning were pretty on target, but unfortunately, due to dryness, I couldn't really enjoy the sausage on a roll as I like. Instead I've found many uses for these, such as putting them in pastas or on pizza, and they tasted great in those applications. So I've added the two most common sausages (in my mind) to my repertoire, and once I put my sausage lessons learned into practice, they'll be two more sausages I will no longer buy in the store.
For Hot Sausage
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cold water
For Sweet Sausage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry red wine
5 lbs pork butt
Mix all dry ingredients for the two sausages separately in small bowls.
Cube pork butt, removing any gristle, and grind through the coarse plate of a meat grinder. Divide ground meat evenly into 2 large bowls.
Add dry spice mixture to each respective bowl, adding 1/4 cup of cold water to the hot sausage, and 1/2 cup dry red wine to the sweet sausage. Mix well with your hands to ensure the spices are evenly distributed in the meat.
Stuff sausage mixture into medium casings and tie into 6" links.
Grill sausages over direct medium heat until cook through, about 20 min.