When you think about sausage, the first thing that comes to your mind probably isn’t ‘how can I make that on my own?’ Sausage seems like it would be such a complicated thing to make, let alone a gross thing to make. After all, sausage is made up of all the undesirable parts of animals, right? Well, that’s simply not true. Perhaps that’s how some sausages are made, but in reality, sausages can be made at home, easily, and with top-grade, high-quality meat.
If you don’t like touching raw meat with your hands, then making sausage yourself probably isn’t a good way to spend your free time. Really, touching raw meat isn’t as bad as it sounds, and if you want to be a home cook, you’ll have to get used to it.
In basic terms, to make your own sausage, all you have to do is mix some spices, grind your meat, and fill the sausage casings. It’s really that easy. Well, there are a few more details you’ll have to know before you get started, but those are the general steps to follow. Keep reading for an in-depth step by step guide to making your own homemade sausage.
The Fat to Meat Ratio
One important detail to keep in mind when making your own homemade sausage is the meat to fat ratio. Don’t panic when you see the word ratio, because figuring out how much meat and how much fat to use is actually pretty simple.
In general, you want about 20%-40% fat in your sausages. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re using 6-7 pounds of meat, use about 3-4 pounds of fat as well. Fat will give your sausage a great flavor, so even though it may not have the greatest health benefits, don’t try to use any less than 20%. Anyways, if you’re trying to eat healthy, sausage probably isn’t the best meal option for you.
What Spices to Use
The spices you use will affect whether your sausage tastes more like a breakfast sausage, or more like a main course dinner sausage. If your goal is to make a flavorful and sweet breakfast sausage, you’ll want to use a mixture of a few or all of the following spices: sage, marjoram, brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, cayenne, plus salt and pepper.
The amount of salt you include is directly based on how much meat you use. For every pound of meat, you should use half a teaspoon of kosher salt.
When making sausage, coming up with your spice mixture is the main way that you can get creative during this cooking process. Come up with your own spice combinations to make your sausage recipe your own. It really isn’t very hard to do. And the more you practice and make sausage, the better your spice combinations will turn out.
For 6 pounds of meat, you will most likely want to use a little less than 1 cup of your spice mixture. Or, for every pound of meat, use about 7 teaspoons of spices.
Homemade Sausage Making – Step by Step
Before you start making sausage, you’ll need to gather your supplies. Whether you are going to be making sausage every once in a while, or every day, having good equipment is necessary if you want to make good sausage.
The Altra meat grinder is a great, beginner-friendly tool that also includes a sausage stuffer tube attachment. For a home cook, this easy-to-use machinery will be a great addition to your kitchen arsenal.
Step 1 – Buy your meat. Make sure you buy meat that has fat on it. Like I wrote above, you’re going to want to have about 20%-40% fat content in your sausage. You can talk to your butcher about this and ask him for a cut of meat that would work.
If you’re making pork sausage, pork shoulder is the best cut of meat for sausage making. If you’re making beef sausage, you should use beef chuck.
Step 2 – Chill the meat. Keep your meat in the fridge for a few hours before you start turning it into sausage. You want to make sure that the fat on the meat is solid and can be broken into pieces.
Step 3 – Soak your sausage casings. You will have to buy a pack of sausage casings from a supermarket. Open the casings under the water faucet and gently fill them with water. Let them soak in slightly warm water for about 30 minutes. You can let them soak while you grind and mix the meat.
Step 4 – Cut and grind the meat. Cut your meat into small chunks, and put the chunks through the meat grinder. Make sure the meat is still chilled from its time in the refrigerator before you grind them. Put the meat into a large bowl. With your hands, knead the meat as if it were bread dough, until the fat is completely combined into the rest of the meat. You don’t want to see any large chunks of fat.
Step 5 – Mix in your spices. Using your hands, mix your spices into the meat until everything is evenly combined.
Step 6 – Fill the sausage casings. With your casing filler tool, slowly fill your sausage casings with your meat and spice mixture. Twist the end off so that the meat doesn’t spill out. After about five inches, twist the sausage to create separate sausage links. Continue this until you are either out of sausage casings or meat.
If your sausage casing breaks, don’t worry. Just twist the sausage to end the sausage link, and continue filling the next link.
Step 7 – Chill the sausage. Put your sausage into the fridge for at least 5 hours (or overnight if you can). This will make the casings more sturdy and will help the sausages keep their shape.
Step 8 – Cook. Cut your sausage links apart. Now, they’re ready to cook. You can cook them however you want — you can boil them then cook them in a pan until they’re golden brown. You can cut them up and cook them into pasta. You can do so many things with sausage.
Great Sausage Meal Ideas
- Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches – Fry your sausage with some oil on a pan until it’s brown and crispy. Fry up some onions and green or red peppers too, and put it all into a bun. This is a great lunch or dinner sausage idea, and it’s family-friendly too.
- Sausage and Mozzarella Pasta – Make a delicious mozzarella, tomato, and sausage sauce in a pan. Let the mozzarella cheese melt, then pour your sauce over cooked pasta. This is a family favorite in my house.
- Sausage Pizza – Pizza is super easy to make. Besides waiting for your dough to rise, making pizza is quick and easy. Cut up your sausage and put it on your pizza with broccoli or onions, or whatever your favorite pizza toppings are.
- Bangers and Mash – This traditional meal from Great Britain is super simple and delicious, and perfect for a first-time sausage maker. Eat a sausage link with onion and cabbage mashed potatoes with onion gravy and peas. How could reading that not make your mouth water?
- New Orleans Gumbo – You’ll probably want to make your sausage a bit more spicy if you want to make it into gumbo. Mix in shrimp, celery, peppers, onions, and meat stock to make a delicious Louisiana gumbo.