How to Link Homemade Sausage

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.

19 thoughts on “How to Link Homemade Sausage”

  1. Lol. So true Jill, I actually caught myself laughing a few times, then rewording what I had written. It’s hard to write about linking sausage without bringing out the inner twelve year old. :)

  2. You are spending way too much effort for a simple task. The easy way is to pull a couple of inhces of casing beyond the stuffing horn and stuff the entire casing with enough pressure on the casing at the exit of the horn to stuff the casings tight. Grasp the casing with both hands seperated by the length of sausage desired and pinch and twirl the section between your hands. Continue the length of the casing until all links are complete. Always twirl in the same direction. This is guaranteed to work! I’ve been in the meat industry my whole life.

  3. I have trying to find a recipe for Portuguese sausage and how to make sausage and your site was the best. Your Andouille Sausage is so simmilar to the portuguese sausage that we have here in Hawaii that I think with a few minor changes it will work for me. Thank you for your tips on stuffing sausage as this will be my first attempt I feel that I will be able to accomplish the process much easier.

    Once again thanks for putting this on the web.

  4. Sandy,

    I love the Portugese sausage you have in Hawaii, I would like to make it myself. I had it every morning with my breakfast during my beautiful stay in Hawaii.

    Portugese sausage, or Linguisa, Spanish Chorizo, and Andouille are all so closely related, I’m sure you just need a few tweaks. Nice to hear from you, and I’m glad my recipe came in handy.

  5. I’ve only found one German-type sausage in all of Texas that gets 5 Hammers on Dick’s Hammer Scale. The old German died a few years ago and I have been trying to copy it ever since. He once told me “It’s easier than you think.” The most obvious flavor ingredient comes from smoking it over pecan wood–never hickory or mesquite. I once bought Andouille from a famous place just outside NO (can’t remember the name) and it was smoked over pecan, too, and it was just like the old German’s! I am getting closer to his sausage with every batch I make. Your tips might be the ones that bring my own sausage up to “5 Hammer status”, too.

    Your help is appreciated!

    Dick Pewthers
    Lake Travis, TX

    Please explain the “drying process before I smoke them” technique. Is contamination a concern?

  6. I live in Seattle and I am unsure whether or not I can get pecan wood for smoking. We have apple coming out the ying-yang here and it works great for salmon. Do you think it would work for the sausage as well?

  7. Yes, apple will work. The flavor (if using for andouille) won’t be quite the same (pecan, being one of the hickories, is a bit more bite-y), but it will be good. You have oak in Seattle: a little oak mixed in with the apple will give you a touch of smoke bite. Go with 1 part oak to 3 or 4 parts apple.

  8. Dick– Drying helps smoke adsorbtion. You can dry your sausages in the fridge laying on racks (move them around periodically so that all parts get air exposue), uncovered, or you can hand the sausages from one of the fridge shelves if you have the room to do so.

  9. Made your recipe for tasso today,Never tried smoking before, turned out great!!!
    Next I want to try your andouille, can I just put the stuffed links on racks to dry in the fridge, and also should I try to hang the links in the smoker or can I smoke them on racks also.
    Hope you can help me.

  10. I just made my first batch of tasso and andouille sausages–thanks for great recipes. I used pork tenderloin for the tasso–very low fat, but it soaks up flavor. Butt roast for the andouille. The $60 or so I spent on the grinder and stuffer attachments for my Kitchenaid stand mixer were well worth it. BTW, those are usually available on eBay for less than you would otherwise spend. Old, metal grinders occasionally come up–they all fit as Kitchenaid has not changed the power take-off on the front of the stand mixer for decades!

  11. Hey Danno – I am a Boudin virgin!

    This is my first time working with this kind of thing, and I switched the traditional recipe up a little bit, using hot pork sausage instead of the liver – sorry, I’m not eating a creature’s poison filter…:(

    Anyhow, the mix tastes great, and i’ve got everything in the fridge getting cold so i can begin stuffing – unfortunately, I’ve got to do it with a jerry-rigged pastry tube, which seems to be working well with the one i expirimented on.

    Thanks for a great recipe, Danno, i can’t wait to taste this stuff as it comes along.

  12. I just wanted to mention, since someone commented about using a KitchenAid grinder/stuffer: I use one too. My kit came with a white plastic cross-piece that is apparently meant to go in place of the grinding blade when switching over to stuffing the sausage. I was constantly fighting with it getting caught up with meat & sinew until finally I just threw that d**n thing out. Now I’m pushing sausage through in literally a fifth of the time and I don’t see that I really needed that part. At any rate, thought the info might come in handy for someone else.

  13. Hello,
    I am in the military and we all cook for our group including me. When I was younger I worked in one of the sausage plants in NY, and I made sauage. We would use pork butts, and I would season them with Fennel,
    garlic, salt, pepper. I tried making the same sausage for mu unit, and I couldn’t get it to taste the same. We cant get the pork butts, so I use a ground pork and it seems very lean, and I thought that might be the problem, but Im not sure. Im also making 2 lbs at a time vice 2000 lbs, so the recipe might be off.Do you have a good recipe for Hot italian sausage that starts with ground pork. My CO will love you for any help.
    Thank You
    pete strangello

  14. I get some great andouille from a local grocery in Nebraska,it actually comes from Wisconsin and it’s very spicy and delicious. The comment about andouille in Louisiana at a famous store is in Laplace Louisiana and is called Jacob’s Famous Andouille and it is fantastic and you can get it on line.

  15. Chip, I love your tip about throwing away that little plastic piece on the KitchenAid in stuffer mode. I hate that miserable little S.O.B.! I was ready to give up on using the KitchenAid as a stuffer and buy a hand powered one instead. Fortunately, the last batch I made (chicken thighs with chopped apple and cranberry) I accidentally lost that white plastic demon down the drain and the disposal ate it during clean-up. After reading your tip I’m willing to give the machine one more try. Thanks.

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