New toy! February 4, 2011Posted by Peeps in Cooking, Food, Home, random stuff.
Ever since we got a great deal on a meat grinder, I’ve been having fun. I’ve made Italian sausage a few times, and it’s come out just fine. Then last Summer, we ran into a snag.
Toys wanted to try Michael Ruhlman’s chicken sausage with basil and tomato. Now, the few times I’ve put sausage in casings, I just added the stuffer attachment to the grinder, and did it all in one step. Ruhlman’s recipe calls for mixing the ground meat with liquid and then stuffing casings. Okay.
It didn’t work very well. Because you can’t run the grinder without the blade, the texture was not quite right. And it made an unholy mess. And was generally just an all around pain. I swore that if I started making sausage in a big way, I was going to have to get a separate stuffing unit.
So, one day last week, I saw that my wife had come home carrying a large box. Which she then handed to me saying “Merry Christmas”. To my utter astonishment, the box contained a sausage stuffer. It was perfect. She had apparently ordered it for me for Christmas and it had been back ordered. I was floored. And very eager to try it out! She really is the Toy Lady!
She picked up a nine pound pork shoulder on her way home from work one day, and over the weekend we got to play.
Saturday afternoon, I cut the shoulder in half. Half was going towards another project and half was going to become sausage. The meat got cut up and seasoned. I used Alton Brown’s Italian sausage recipe, because I’ve had good luck with it before. But, it gets tweaked a bit. Obviously, since I had more than doubled the meat, the seasonings got more than doubled. I also added a few cloves of garlic, some crushed red pepper and a little white wine. That all sat in a covered container until the next day to allow the flavors to blend. And to make sure it stays cold. Keeping stuff cold is important in sausage making.
The next afternoon, it’s time to begin.
Grind the seasoned meat. No problem, it went smoothly and quickly. Meanwhile, get your casings soaking to remove as much of the salt they’re packed in as possible.
Now, Mr. Brown has you use collagen casings. I like them. They store forever and there’s no cleaning them. My wife doesn’t like them. She says they taste like paper. So, we went with natural casings. Besides, while you’re rinsing them, you can get a mild laugh.
Before you do anything else, you should take a small amount of your ground seasoned meat and put it in a pan to taste. If it needs more seasoning, you need to take care of that before it goes into the casings. It’s kind of difficult afterward.
This was just fine. In fact, it was mighty good. So, let’s finish up. The ground meat goes into the hopper of the stuffing unit.
You then fit the casing onto the filling nozzle of the stuffer. And yes, I know exactly what it looks like. Thanks.
Then all you have to do is slowly crank the handle to force the meat into the casings while pulling the newly formed sausage gently along to keep it from getting overfilled. but not so fast as to allow air pockets to form. It’s not really that hard and before we knew it, we had a bunch of Italian sausage.
Now, this model and size unit is perfect for our home. It hold five pounds of meat, and is easy to clean and store. It’s hand cranked, which means that the speed is very easy to adjust.
But putting sausage into casings is always going to be a two person job. I need to crank with one hand while steadying the unit with the other. Leaving my wife to the harder task of making sure the sausage is formed properly. Unless I drill some holes in one of the stainless steel tables in the basement and bolt the stuffer down. Huh.
But that’s okay. I like working with her. She’s mighty fun.