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Stuffin' the Sausage


cjsadler
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I like to make sausage with apple and sage this time of year. Fennel and fennel seed are a great combination, too. I made lamb sausage with feta chees and sun-dried tomatoes -- spiced with more Eastern hand -- that went over prettty well. I'm not much on writing down recipes, though generally, you should add more of everything than you think you will need, except salt, especially if you're mixing a good hunk of fatback into the meat.

Have fun, if you follow your instincts you'll come up with great stuff. I mean, c'mon, who ever heard of a bad sausage?

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I've seen sausage casings at the Big Meat counter at Eastern market...easy to get to from Arlington. best call over to see if they have any in stock.

Union Meat: 202-547-2626

http://sausagemaker.com/ is where i get my casings. i'd recommend going with actual hog casings because the collagen ones have been a bit more easily broken, in my experience. i've just been focusing on making coarse-grind sausages and just grilling them (i don't have a smoker yet).

http://schmidling.com/saus.htm is one of the resources i've been using for recipes...i've mostly been making stuff based on the bratwurst recipe but tweaked a bit.

I also bought this book: http://sausagemaker.com/index.asp?PageActi...PROD&ProdID=413 off sausagemaker, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. It's incredible disorganized. Has a ton of recipes, but most of them are for larger quantities than I'm making, and I haven't yet tried scaling any of them down.

As far as the actual stuffing process, i definitely recommend having an extra person to help. I sometimes do it solo, and it's a pain to try and manage the input of meat as well as regulating the output into the casings. And make sure you remove the grinder plate and blade (and replace with spacer) when you're stuffing...thanks to mdt for that crucial tip.

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I've got a question for the experienced sausage makers here. I made some brats and kielbasa for yesterday's Superbowl party. Other than a test run a few weeks ago, this was my first time making sausages. The flavor was decent enough, and the interior texture of the sausages was fine, but the casings were very tender and had no "snap." I used natural hog casings, which supposedly provide that snap, so I'm assuming I did something wrong, or perhaps failed to do something right. I bought the casings online (sausagemaker.com), rinsed, flushed and soaked them, stuffed them with a KitchenAid mixer's grinder w/sausage stuffer attachment, froze the sausages (they were made a week in advance, to give me time to fix any screw-ups), thawed them in the refrigerator, and cooked them in a skillet.

Any ideas about what might have gone wrong?

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froze the sausages

I'm really not sure, but my first guess would be that maybe freezing them took some life out of the casings? The hog casings I got from sausagemaker.com were actually on the chewy/tough side, so I'm not sure. Were the casings packed in salt when you got them, or brined? How long did you soak them for?

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I've got a question for the experienced sausage makers here. I made some brats and kielbasa for yesterday's Superbowl party. Other than a test run a few weeks ago, this was my first time making sausages. The flavor was decent enough, and the interior texture of the sausages was fine, but the casings were very tender and had no "snap." I used natural hog casings, which supposedly provide that snap, so I'm assuming I did something wrong, or perhaps failed to do something right. I bought the casings online (sausagemaker.com), rinsed, flushed and soaked them, stuffed them with a KitchenAid mixer's grinder w/sausage stuffer attachment, froze the sausages (they were made a week in advance, to give me time to fix any screw-ups), thawed them in the refrigerator, and cooked them in a skillet.

Any ideas about what might have gone wrong?

Were the sausages dry before you cooked them? After defrosting them I have found that they retain/have a good deal of moisture and the result is that they get steamed when cooking. After I defrost mine I place them on a tray and let them air dry overnight in the fridge uncovered.

I have also found that if you overstuff the sausages the casings can get a bit thin and not produce that nice snap.

BTW, you can also get sausage casings at the Wegman's in Fairfax.

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I've got a question for the experienced sausage makers here. ---snip snip snip---

Any ideas about what might have gone wrong?

Sorry - I'm a neophyte. As a matter of fact, I just placed my casings order (sausagemaker.com) and will be using the KitchenAid grinder attachment. I know that the grinder attachment comes with two plates - coarse and fine grind. Does anyone know the actual measurements for the plates?? I've checked the KitchenAid website and not found the answers. Is it safe to assume that they're 3/8" and 1/8" plates?
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Sorry - I'm a neophyte. As a matter of fact, I just placed my casings order (sausagemaker.com) and will be using the KitchenAid grinder attachment. I know that the grinder attachment comes with two plates - coarse and fine grind. Does anyone know the actual measurements for the plates?? I've checked the KitchenAid website and not found the answers. Is it safe to assume that they're 3/8" and 1/8" plates?

I think that is correct. You can always get a ruler and measure the holes. :lol:

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How long should the hog casings be soaked for? Julia Child says minimum of one hour but not more than two hours. However, the packaging the casings came in says it's best to soak for 24 hrs.

Not to go agianst St. Julia, but we just made a couple of batches this afternoon and we don't soak them at all. Just run water through them to check for leaks. Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not sure why you'd have to soak them.

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Not to go agianst St. Julia, but we just made a couple of batches this afternoon and we don't soak them at all. Just run water through them to check for leaks. Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not sure why you'd have to soak them.

Just "in case" they have not been scrupulously cleaned, dearest.

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Not to go agianst St. Julia, but we just made a couple of batches this afternoon and we don't soak them at all. Just run water through them to check for leaks. Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not sure why you'd have to soak them.

To get the salt that they have been stored in off and make them a bit more pliable. When the casings are wet it also makes the stuffing process much easier.

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I'm in need of a good fennel/pork/Italian sausage recipe for use on a pizza, but the fennel flavor must be either mild or not taste like fennel, and I can't be seen actually putting fennel into the sausage, or my wife will object.

Also, no one can tell her I'm using fennel.

I should stop saying "fennel" or it'll just pop out.

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To get the salt that they have been stored in off and make them a bit more pliable. When the casings are wet it also makes the stuffing process much easier.

I knew that, jeez. :unsure: I just find that a quick two-minute rinse while checking for holes accomplishes that, and am not sure what is to be gained from the added hours.

I'm in need of a good fennel/pork/Italian sausage recipe for use on a pizza, but the fennel flavor must be either mild or not taste like fennel, and I can't be seen actually putting fennel into the sausage, or my wife will object.

Also, no one can tell her I'm using fennel.

I should stop saying "fennel" or it'll just pop out.

Dumb question: if it can't taste like fennel, why put it in? :lol:

What if you just put in fennel seed rather than chopped fenel (or is that what you meant)?

If you google around you should find plenty of Italian sausage recipes, I'd reccommend adding about twice the spice they usually suggest. If you finely chop a fennel bulb and add it, no one will notice unless they're specifically looking for it.

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In the same way that the braised fennel at Firefly doesn't taste like fennel. Rather, it DOES, but it's prepared in such a way that, if my wife isn't told what is it, will enjoy it. :lol:

Just sneak it in in small pieces. Add a little chopped onion and garlic to cover your tracks. By the time it's cooked, she'll never recognize it.

I just had fennel at the French laundry that had been cooked many hours with sous vide and then sauteed with champagne vinegar, but this is likely impractical for the home cook.

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I knew that, jeez. :lol: I just find that a quick two-minute rinse while checking for holes accomplishes that, and am not sure what is to be gained from the added hours.

The ones I get from Wegman's do benefit from a couple hour soak as they are pretty dry non-pliable when I take them out of the salt.

As for the fennel, but no fennel sausage, why not just make up two batches and leave the fennel out of one?

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RE: fennel

Italian sausage has fennel seed in it, and that is the flavor that Mrs. Dan Cole objects to. The fennel bulb does not taste the same as the seed and only has a strong anise flavor when raw--when braised in liquid or roasted, the anise flavor almost or completely disappears. I don't think it would work to put fennel bulb into Italian sausage--it wouldn't give Dan Cole the fennel seed flavor he prefers, and the texture is unlikely to be what he is expecting.

mdt has offered the right suggestion, to which I would add, stuff one version into casings and leave the second version loose. That way, there won't be any unfortunate mix-ups.

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RE: fennel

Italian sausage has fennel seed in it, and that is the flavor that Mrs. Dan Cole objects to. The fennel bulb does not taste the same as the seed and only has a strong anise flavor when raw--when braised in liquid or roasted, the anise flavor almost or completely disappears. I don't think it would work to put fennel bulb into Italian sausage--it wouldn't give Dan Cole the fennel seed flavor he prefers, and the texture is unlikely to be what he is expecting.

mdt has offered the right suggestion, to which I would add, stuff one version into casings and leave the second version loose. That way, there won't be any unfortunate mix-ups.

I've found that adding the bulb to the sausage does bring both a texture and a flavor to a sausage that I'm sometimes in the mood for-- though not the same as the seeds, ofcourse.

We braise frennel pretty regularly and, though milder, it is far from tasteless.

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Disclaimer: I've never tried to make sausage, although I have Ruhlman & Polcyn's Charcuterie (as well as a bunch of other cookbooks that have sausage recipes)-I love a good hot dog (Usinger, Hebrew Natl., Nathans), as well as bratwurst, weisswurst, salami-the only product I haven't quite adapted to is chicken liver pate or terrine-I don't know why, maybe not enough exposure as a youth...

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Quick update - my first foray into sausage making was a TOTAL success. Juicy, spicy, and great piggie flavour. I didn't have any real hassles (except for trying to figure out the best way to clean the grinder attachments). Now I'm really motivated to try different recipes. Next week is going to be merguez. Thx to all for suggestions/encouragement.

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RE: fennel

Italian sausage has fennel seed in it, and that is the flavor that Mrs. Dan Cole objects to. The fennel bulb does not taste the same as the seed and only has a strong anise flavor when raw--when braised in liquid or roasted, the anise flavor almost or completely disappears. I don't think it would work to put fennel bulb into Italian sausage--it wouldn't give Dan Cole the fennel seed flavor he prefers, and the texture is unlikely to be what he is expecting.

mdt has offered the right suggestion, to which I would add, stuff one version into casings and leave the second version loose. That way, there won't be any unfortunate mix-ups.

I beg to differ that braised fennel's flavor disappears. It does not. Having said that, I use the seed (toasted) when making sausage. :lol:

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The friend I'm staying with was recently gifted with some wonderful homemade smoky German sausage links. All we know is that it's 60 beef/40 pork. Any suggestions for trying to recreate this? They were fabulous grilled.

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A friend of mine is looking for a recipe for kielbasa. Can anyone steer me in the right direction?

I'm bored on a Friday night (just got done making a yeast starter and grinding grain for tomorrow's brewday) so I just checked the two sausagemaking texts that I use most: Ruhlman/Polcyn and Rytek Kutas. Ruhlman is focused primarily on the home cook, so he presents one smoked, one not-smoked. Rytek is much more business oriented, and he's really really Polish: he offers 11 different kielbasa recipes.

The difficulty here is that (as Ruhlman points out) that Kielbasa is the generic term for sausage in Polish. The Ruhlman unsmoked is an all-pork fresh sausage with garlic, marjoram, and black pepper for seasoning. The smoked is beef with pork fat, includes pink salt, dextrose, milk powder, and is seasoned with white pepper, dry mustard, and garlic powder.

The basic fresh kielbasa in Rytek is all pork, with the same ingredients as the unsmoked one in Ruhlman (but adding sugar). The other 10 have obscure Polish names that probably only mean something to Poles. There are smoked versions, semi-dried versions, etc. So yea, it all depends on what your friend is looking for. PM if you want any specific recipes.

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I'm bored on a Friday night (just got done making a yeast starter and grinding grain for tomorrow's brewday) so I just checked the two sausagemaking texts that I use most: Ruhlman/Polcyn and Rytek Kutas. Ruhlman is focused primarily on the home cook, so he presents one smoked, one not-smoked. Rytek is much more business oriented, and he's really really Polish: he offers 11 different kielbasa recipes.

The difficulty here is that (as Ruhlman points out) that Kielbasa is the generic term for sausage in Polish. The Ruhlman unsmoked is an all-pork fresh sausage with garlic, marjoram, and black pepper for seasoning. The smoked is beef with pork fat, includes pink salt, dextrose, milk powder, and is seasoned with white pepper, dry mustard, and garlic powder.

The basic fresh kielbasa in Rytek is all pork, with the same ingredients as the unsmoked one in Ruhlman (but adding sugar). The other 10 have obscure Polish names that probably only mean something to Poles. There are smoked versions, semi-dried versions, etc. So yea, it all depends on what your friend is looking for. PM if you want any specific recipes.

Wow--who knew? Thanks for this info!
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Does anyone know where to get lamb casings locally?

First, I'd check at to two places in Falls Church that are across the road from each other: The Lebanese Butcher and Halalco. The Lebanese Butcher has a slaughtering facility in Warrenton where lamb and goat are processed. If you want to be 100% certain that the animal was raised, pastured and slaughtered in a sustainable and humane fashion, I'd check with the Virginia lamb folks who come to the Dupont Circle farmers' market, to see if they can get you some, and while you are there, talk to either Bev or Eric at the Eco-Friendly stand, to see if they can get some for you. It would have to be special ordered from those folks--since they both probably use the casings themselves to make their own sausages.
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First, I'd check at to two places in Falls Church that are across the road from each other: The Lebanese Butcher and Halalco. The Lebanese Butcher has a slaughtering facility in Warrenton where lamb and goat are processed. If you want to be 100% certain that the animal was raised, pastured and slaughtered in a sustainable and humane fashion, I'd check with the Virginia lamb folks who come to the Dupont Circle farmers' market, to see if they can get you some, and while you are there, talk to either Bev or Eric at the Eco-Friendly stand, to see if they can get some for you. It would have to be special ordered from those folks--since they both probably use the casings themselves to make their own sausages.

Thanks! Will check these places out and update!

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