Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sausage Making

I love sausage - italian sausage, bratwurst, chorizo, breakfast sausage - you name it. It is good stuff. So, when I got my KitchenAid mixer with the meat grinder attachment, I decided to try my hand at it. The very first time I made it was quite interesting. I really had no idea what I was doing. At that time my local grocery store still cased their own sausage and so they sold me some casing. I had my recipe in hand and went about grinding the meat and making my sausage filling. This all went fine but then I had to get the meat into the casing. I did not have the sausage stuffer attachment. I wracked my brain for a solution to how I could manage to get the sausage into the casing. I finally found a plastic turkey baster in the drawer. I sawed it off to about 6 inches. I threaded the casing onto the baster and hand pushed the sausage mixture through the tube into the casing. It was quite a production and took a bit - okay - a lot of time but, the sausage came out so good I was hooked.

My grocery store no longer makes their own sausage so I order the casings on line and keep them on kosher salt in the fridge. I now have a sausage stuffer attachment for my KitchenAid mixer which is truly an AID!!!!! My favorite sausage cookbook is Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book. All of the recipes I have made from this book are wonderful. The following 2 recipes are adapted from recipes in this book.

These 2 recipes both come out so good. They are both a chicken sausage but beyond that they are completely different. My local grocery store had 10 pound bags of chicken leg quarters on sale for $5.90 per bag. So I bought a bag with sausage in mind. I boned all the meat. When done I had yielded about 7 pounds of chicken with skin even after tossing about 12 ounces of skin. I made chicken stock from the bones (which I used in my turkey gravy from the previous post). I divided the chicken in half and made two kinds of sausage.

Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato Sausage
3 1/2 pounds boned chicken thighs and legs with skin
1/3 cup chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons crushed garlic
2 tablespoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar

Medium Hog Casings

Put the chicken meat through the meat grinder. I like using the fine grinding plate as opposed to the coarse one. Mix the ground chicken thoroughly with all the remaining ingredients except hog casings.

Place the sausage stuffer attachment on the KitchenAid mixer as instructed. For 3 1/2 pounds you will need about 3 - 4 feet of casing. Rinse the casing well. Plug the drain in the sink and soak the casing. Run water through it a couple of times. Feed it onto the sausage stuffer and you are ready to go. I stuff the casing in one long tube . When it is stuffed I form the tube into links. I then take a toothpick and puncture any air pockets.

Place the sausage in a single layer on a plate and place in the fridge, uncovered, to cure overnight. At this point it is ready to cook or freeze. If not using within 3 days, wrap and freeze it.

Chicken and Apple Sausage

1 cup apple cider
2 granny smith or braeburn apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs and legs with skin
1/4 cup chopped crisped cooked bacon
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried sage
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot white wine

Medium Hog Casings

Advanced prep: Boil the apple cider until reduced to 2-3 tablespoons. Dice the apples to 1/4 inch dice. Toss with the lemon juice. Spread on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in a 300 degree oven until dry. Toss every half hour or so. This goes much quicker if you set the oven for convection. If not about 2 hours. With convection 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

For sausage: Cut chicken into chunks. Mix with the reduced cider, dried apple and all remaining ingredients except the casings. Put the mixture through the fine grinder on the meat grinder attachment.

Prepare the casings as in the recipe above and stuff the sausage accordingly.

Both of these sausages are good served alone or in a dish. I served both as an appetizer when my friend April was over for dinner. I made little polenta stars (next time polenta circles mind you) and sliced each kind and placed the slices on the polenta stars. For the chicken and apple sausage I drizzled a sauce made with 1 cup of apple cider and 1 cup of beer boiled together until reduced to about 1/2 cup. That's it.

For the chicken and sun dried tomato I made an herb pesto with the last of my herb garden. Into the food processor went:

Herb Pesto and Herb Pesto Sauce

1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh mint
2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
Mix everything except the 1/4 cup of olive oil and cream in a food processor until well blended. Remove all but one tablespoon of the pesto from the food processor. To the tablespoon remaining add 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Blend to combine. Serve over sausage.

The remaining pesto is wonderful as a dip for bread. Just place a teaspoon on the dipping dish and top with extra virgin olive oil.

Polenta Stars

2 cups water
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons cream or half n half

Combine water, cornmeal and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook stirring constantly until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese and cream and continue to cook until combined, 2-3 minutes. Our onto a parchment lined 1/2 sheet pan and spread to about 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and set. Cut into whatever shape you desire.

Melt some butter in a nonstick frying pan and lightly fry the polenta shapes until crisp on both sides. Top with sausage and drizzle with sauce.


  1. are a go getter man.
    PS- Word on the street is that Stephen wants you to make that cheese ball w. the cranberries and almonds we had at taste of a nation. Just passing along what I heard....

  2. Hi Erin - We will have to make sure Stephen gets whatever he asks for for his birthday!

  3. this was AMAZING!!! especially the apple one! YUM YUM YUM


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