So you know what happened with the two shoulders that came from the pig we had slaughtered a little over a week ago, but what’s happening with the rest of the pig? Well, I’ll tell you...
On Tuesday, I spent all day processing the rest of the pig. I deboned the hams and cubed the meat and fat, keeping them separate, for sausage. I cured the bellies for bacon and the loin for a Spanish style smoked pork loin, kind of like Canadian bacon, but better (sorry Canadians). I turned the cubed meat and fat into 30 pounds of sausage, in three different flavor profiles. It was a busy day of butchery and charcuterie work, so needless to say I had a great day!
I am going to give you all a basic lesson in bacon curing and sausage making, one at a time. First lesson, fresh sausage.....
Sausage making is really not that difficult, as long as you stick to a few very important rules. And buy stick, I mean strictly adhere! These rules are, in no particular order:
- Keep everything very very cold, the meat should be bordering on frozen, all your equipment should be kept in the freezer for at least 2 hours before you use it and all mixing, measuring, etc should be done with the meat set over a bowl of ice. Cold is key! It keeps the fat from melting, which will cause your sausage to be greasy and mealy. You want that fat to slowly melt as you cook the sausage so it basically bastes the meat inside the casing as it heats up...mmmmmmm
- Speaking of fat, don’t skimp! For every four pounds of meat, you will need 1 pound of fat. If you decide to go less, than you might as well not even bother to make sausage, the results will be one big disappointment. Plus, if you are using pasture raised, well sourced and non commercial pork, the fat is actually good for you, so eat your pork fat people!!
- Use plenty of salt. As with the fat, don’t skimp, besides a sausage that’s dry, the worse thing is a sausage that’s under-seasoned and bland.
- Work it! You need to emulsify, (suspend the fat in the liquid), your sausage meat to create the proper texture. This isn’t hard, but it does take a little bit of elbow grease...
You will also need some specialized equipment, mainly a meat grinder and sausage stuffer. You could get you meat ground at you local butcher, but DO NOT, under any circumstances, buy ground pork from the grocery store. If you do not have a stuffer, a pastry bag and with a stuffer attachment works OK, and you can always make unstuffed sausage for you patty and sauce needs.
OK, so here we go....
4 pounds of pork shoulder meat
1 pound of pork back fat
2.5 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp ice water, as in, a pint glass full of ice and 2 Tbsp of water
Following the rules I have set, mix the meat, fat, salt and pepper so that the seasoning is well distributed. Grind it through your grinder with the medium plate into a bowl set over ice. Once all the meat and fat have been ground, pour in the 2 Tbsp ice water a,d start to mix vigorously. This can be done by hand, my preferred method, with a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. What you are looking for is a uniform, sticky mass of sausage meat. I always with it well with both hands, then grab the whole mass of meat and slam, yes slam, the meat down into the bowl. This really works and usually only takes 3-4 good slams. The whole emulsification process should take no more than 90 seconds.
Take a small piece of the meat and make a small patty, fry it up and taste it for seasoning. This recipe is very simple and adds little to the flavor of the pork, so it’s a good recipe if you have really great pork, for it will highlight the flavor of the meat and nothing else.
Describing how to stuff sausage is tough, its really one of those things that somebody should show you, and I bet there are some videos on youtube that can give you a general idea. And if that’s all too much, simply use the sausage unstuffed, it’ll still be super tasty!
If there are any questions, please let me know and I will answer them as well as I can. Bon appetite!