Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Country-Style Sausage Making

I've been yearning for some (American) country-style breakfast sausage for a while now. Given that I have my nifty new stuffing plate, I hit the kitchen tonight.

I picked up some ground pork. It was a bit fatty today. That's OK. Pork fat makes things taste good. So, with that, here are the ingredients:
  • 1 kg ground pork (approximately 30% fat)
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs dried sage, crumbled fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
A pretty classic recipe of which there are hundreds on the web. I like a bit more flavor in my sausage, so I upped the sage and black pepper a little bit over some of the other recipes. I'm glad that I did.

I do something slightly different when making it. I mix all the ingredients, except the pork, together into a kind of paste. I think that this makes it easier to get a consistent distribution without a lot of mixing. Using a small whisk, I whip the water, spices, and other dry ingredients together to ensure an even distribution of all.

I first mix the pork briefly by hand in my mixer's bowl. Before you work with the pork, it should be cold. That prevents the fat from melting. You want the fat to melt when you cook, not when you're first making the sausage itself.

I put the mixture into my stand mixer on the very lowest setting for 30-40 seconds. That's it. That's all that's required. Very easy. I could do it by hand. But, tonight, I just didn't feel like it. Also, doing it by hand requires a little more care. I can refrigerate the mixer parts. It's difficult to get my hands down in temperature (to avoid melting the fat) without serious pan and potential medical issues. You know, frostbite and that kind of thing.

Once mixed, I really suggest cooking up a little sample. As much as we hate to admit it, cooking isn't exactly a precise science. Sometimes ingredients vary, sometimes we vary (measuring off a little, buying a different brand of spice, etc.). You need to taste the food. With the sausage, just take a tablespoon or two and fry it quickly on the stove. If you find your seasoning is off, try to adjust and repeat the sampling process. I suggest putting the sausage into the fridge for 20 minutes or so between each adjustment to ensure that it stays cold and fat stays solid. A bit long? Maybe. But, why muck up a perfectly good bit of sausage because of impatience?

Once you know it's good, wrap it up and stick it in the fridge. It'll keep a few days. If your family is like mine, it won't last that long.

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