For Christmas, we got Chris’ dad a food grinder and sausage stuffer. Since he hadn’t really played with it much, we decided to try it out and make a couple of different kinds of sausage. We really aren’t as bright as we think we are. We searched around online and found a couple of different recipes (which we didn’t save, and the hard copies got too sausagey to save). We decided upon a Nurenburg brat and a Hungarian sausage, so off to the store we went. Ten pounds of pork later (one pork butt, another was some shoulder cut), we returned home triumphant. Now it was time to get started. Chris trimmed and cubed the pork parts while I put together the two spice blends, and set the mixer up. We ended up pretty evenly dividing the should and butt between the two sausage recipes for an appropriate fat content. We first did a course grind on both batches of meat. No problem so far, the grinder was working as advertised. We put the ground meat in the fridge to chill again as we tackled the next grind. After not nearly long enough, we took the meat out again, added the seasonings, and ground it (or tried to) with the smaller grinder plate. This is where we learned quite a bit, including some new words. This meat really does need to be almost frozen for it to feed through the grinder without sticking. Our meat was not frozen, so we had some pretty seriously slow grinding. Ten pounds of slow grinding. A couple of hours later we had the second grind done. We put the meat back in the fridge and set about getting the sausage stuffer ready to go. We had gotten some collagen casings from Gander Mountain (an outdoor outfitter type place), so we were ready to go. This was another opportunity for more learning. We got the meat out of the fridge and started to stuff casings. Again, our meat was not frozen, and not even that cold, so there were some issues even getting the stuff into the stuffer. Also, collagen is rather fragile, and it tears easily when moist, which is bad when trying to twist links on slightly overstuffed sausage. Furthermore, collagen doesn’t seal at the ends of the links, so when cooked, you end up with a rather bizarre dumbbell shaped sausage, and the casing is chewy.
All in all, it was a learning experience that produced edible, even tasty sausage, but they weren’t quite what we were looking for. The small plate on the grinder was still too large for the texture we were looking for (which was really disappointing). Also, the casing was simply a disaster. Next time, it’ll be an experiment in natural casings. Finally, I think in the future, we may try a practice run before getting 10 pounds of pork to make sausage with.