Delicious Sage Sausage made at home – it’s not as difficult (or messy!) as you might think!

Sausage making 101

As I mentioned last week, I spent the weekend before last in New York City attending the Wine and Food Festival. The reason for my trip was to help out at the Shop Rite booth at the Grand Tasting (I contribute recipes to their blog, Potluck) but I also had the opportunity to take a few classes while I was there. The Grand Tasting and the dinner parties are the highlights of the Festival, but the classes are really great and a fantastic bargain! Shop Rite comped me the tickets to Sausage Making 101 and The Art of Chocolate Making, but each was just around $100 and well worth it.

Both classes were fantastic, but the sausage making class was my favorite! When I was telling people about it afterwards though, they all had a similar reaction which was “Oh, cool! But… do you think you’d really make sausage at home? Isn’t it messy?!”

While I’m not about to give up store bough sausage any time soon, I definitely will make it at home for special occasions. And it’s not messy at all – the “ick factor” is really no worse than making meatballs. Since I took a bajillion photos, I thought I’d do a step by step of the process so you can see for yourself.

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To start, you’ll need a few things: a big bowl full of ice, a smaller bowl that you can nestle into the ice to keep your meat cold, and a way to grind the meat. I have this Kitchen Aid Meat Grinder Attachment at home, and it’s great (I also use it to make extra lean ground chicken from boneless, skinless chicken breasts), but you could also use a stand alone grinder.

Grind your meat (a shoulder cut like picnic roast) through the coarse grinding plate, then put it into a bowl set on top of the ice. Sausage in an emulsion of meat and fat, and it’s much easier to work with when it’s super cold.

Use your hand to mix in the seasonings: first, mix in the salt getting everything nice and blended. Then, add toasted garlic, black pepper, and fresh sage. When everything is thoroughly mixed, work in some white wine. Press a small ball of meat into the bowl of a spoon and turn the spoon upside down. If the sausage stays for 5 seconds before falling, you’re ready to go! If not, add ice water little by little until you achieve the right balance.

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Next comes the the only slightly icky part: preparing the casings. (You can skip this and fry up sausage patties if you really want.)

You can buy natural casing (intestine) or artificial casing (made from collagen or cellulose). We worked with natural casing and I recommend that you do too – it gives the sausage a great “snap” that artificial casing can’t match. The casing will come packed in salt brine and come in two sizes: hog is for larger sausages like we made and lamb is for smaller sausages (like breakfast links). Soak the casings in water, then flush them to ensure they’re nice and clean and to remove any of the brine.

Find an end and work the casing onto your stuffer (again, there’s a Kitchen Aid attachment that’s really affordable), leaving about 6 inches hanging off the end. The casings are a little slippery and pretty resilient and fairly easy to work with.

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Load your meat in and SLOWLY start cranking it through, holding the loose end of the casing. It’s helpful if you have someone to help you, but it is possible to do it yourself. When the sausage starts filling the casing, tie the end off (it’s kind of like tying a balloon). Keep churning the sausage through until you reach the end, working the sausage into a coil as you go. You’ll need to guide it gently to prevent it from getting overstuffed and bursting!

When you get to the end, tie it off. You can leave it in a big coil like this or form links by sectioning off 3-inch pieces of sausage and twisting it around to separate it from the next one. Twist one clockwise, then the next counterclockwise, until you’re done!  Now, take a sharp knife and poke a small hole in each link to let out any air that might have gotten trapped inside.

TADA! You made sausage! They’ll keep for 3 days in the refrigerator or about six months in the freezer. Cook them for 7 minutes on each side until they’re cooked through – they’re so delicious!

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Sausage Making 101: Classic Sage Sausage
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced toasted garlic
  • ½ cup fresh minced sage
  • 1 ounce white wine
  • 2 cups ice water
  • 1 small container sausage casing
Preparation
  1. Grind the pork through a coarse grinding plate. Place into a chilled bowl set into a larger bowl of ice. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix in the salt until well blended. Mix in the pepper, garlic, and sage.
  2. Add the white wine and test the consistency by pressing a small ball of meat into the bowl of a spoon and turning the spoon upside down; if the sausage stays for 5 seconds before falling, you’re ready to go! If not, add ice water little by little until you achieve the right balance.
  3. Form into patties or stuff into casings (see interactions above).
  4. Cook for 7 minutes on each side or until done.

As a Potluck blogger, my trip to the Festival and my admission into the sausage making class was sponsored by ShopRite. I was not under any obligation to post about my experience, not did I receive any monetary compensation.