While linking up my Chaurice sausage (pictured) recently, I realized that there are some little tips that I could share, most of which I learned by screwing up. I’m not claiming to be any kind of expert on the subject of sausage making, far from it, but I have learned a few things. These tips apply to just about any sausage, not just the ones associated with NOLA Cuisine. Any sausage: Andouille, Italian, Kielbasa, Chaurice, Boudin, Chorizo, you get the idea.
I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, with a grinding attachment and sausage tubes. The kitchen aid works great, the only downside is that the sausage feeds about 10 inches off of the counter, instead of at counter level. No big deal. It’s just something I’ve gotten used to. I use hog casings, packed in salt, from the Italian market down the street from my house. I don’t like synthetic casings because they look and taste, well..synthetic. I use natural casings. When you’re ready to use them, turn your kitchen sink on cold, very low, then hook the casing over the faucet, it will slowly fill up like a hose. Let it run for a few minutes, then squeeze all of the water out. You do this for two reasons: To clean off all of that nasty salt, and to check for holes in the casing; holes are bad. Anyway, here are some tips:
* Keep all of your grinding equipment and meat very cold. I throw everything in the fridge a few hours before I start, the grinder, the plunger, the bowl that I’m grinding into, everything. Two reasons for this: Food safety, and to keep the fat from starting to render out of your sausage. The motor heats up quite a bit. If your making a large batch, keep half of the meat in the fridge until you need it.
* Put a little oil on your sausage tube to make the casing slide on and off easier. If your sausage casing is filling up and your casing is clinging to the tube, you may have a blow out.
* Once your casing is on the tube, pull out about 2-3 inches, make a fist around the tube and casing to keep air out, then start feeding some ground sausage into the chamber. Once some starts coming out, turn the motor off and tie the casing.
* When linking sausage on a kitchen aid, I find it more aggravating than helpful with 2 people. The one feeding is either going too fast or too slow for the one shaping the links. After a little practice you can do it faster alone.
* Now that your casing is tied, turn your motor on low and start plunging some ground meat through. I’m right handed so I feed with my left and form the link with my right. As the meat feeds in, gently squeeze it to the tied end with the back of your hand while holding the tube to prevent air pockets. Not too much or the casing will break, and not too little. I fill the casings pretty tight, although it takes some practice to know when to say when. Keep doing this until you have the correct length of sausage for the recipe you’re using, turn off the motor, pull out the casing about 2-3 inches and cut it. Now form the end of the sausage and tie it. You can adjust your motor speed to your pace.
* If you want a rope of smaller links, you can make one long casing, then pinch & twist between each link, then tie each division with butcher’s twine. Just make sure you don’t pack as much into the casings or they will burst. When first starting out it’s easier to make individual links.
* Don’t sweat air pockets while you’re linking, finish your link, then worry about it. Simply take a toothpick or skewer and poke the air pocket, just a tiny hole, then gently rub it until the air is gone.
* You now have fresh sausage.
* If I am are planning on smoking sausage, I tie butcher’s twine around one end each of two links, then hang them from hooks in the basement to cure. It is important to let the casings dry out before smoking. More on the smoking process in the future.
Later today I will post my recipe for homemade Chaurice (pictured) which is a Creole fresh sausage. Coming soon homemade Andouille Sausage.