What are men cooking these days? Are we settling for boxes of macaroni and cheese and boring old grilled cheese? No, the days of the inept dad stumbling around the kitchen is over. It’s becoming our domain just as much as Mom’s. Don’t settle for Jimmy Dean’s precooked sausage when you can make your own. Is it easy? No, but when have we ever shied away from something because it was difficult. Your family will never be able to go back to store bought when you bring out your freshly cooked sausages for them to gobble up.
The Tools of the Trade
You’re going to need two very important pieces of equipment if this is going to succeed. The most important is a meat grinder. The grinder takes the fresh meat and grinds it into a medium that can be fit into casings. They make several different types of grinders from the old-time hand crank models to the fully automated. The other piece of equipment you’re going to want is a sausage stuffer. I’ll patiently wait for you to stop giggling over that one. The stuffer takes the ground up meat and puts it into the casings. Yes, some grinders come with stuffing attachments, but those can make the meat too hot and ruin the overall texture.
Start with about four pounds of pork shoulder. This should be enough to make about 15-20 good sized links. You’ll also need one pound of pork fat, 40 grams of kosher salt, 35 grams of sugar, 20 grams of toasted fennel seeds, 6 grams of cracked black pepper, 4 grams of nutmeg, 1 cup of minced parsley, 1 head of peeled and chopped garlic, ¾ cup of dry sherry and ¼ cup of sherry vinegar and sausage casings. Don’t worry, it’s actually fun. You get to get your hands dirty and we love that.
Preparing the Sausage
You’re going to want to put the meat and the fat into the freezer for an hour or two. It just makes it easier for you to cut. You’ll also want to put any bowls you’re using and the grinder in the freezer as well…as long as it’s a manual grinder. Get a large bowl and fill it with ice and then place another bowl on top of that. This holds the meat and keeps it cold.
Cut the meat and fat into small cubes and place them in the bowl on top of the ice. Mix all the dry ingredients, but save about a tablespoon of pepper and fennel seeds for later in the process. Put the mixture in a covered container and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. While that’s in the freezer, mix the sherry and the vinegar and put it in the refrigerator.
After about 30 minutes, take out the sausage and grind it. You may want to grind it a few times to get it as fine as you want it. Stick it back in the freezer for about 20 more minutes. Take it out and add the remaining spices and sherry mixture. You can use a mixer, but come on, we like using our hands. When the mixture is done, it will begin to stick and bind together. It’s ready for the stuffer.
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