Have you ever really thought about what’s in a sausage? Do you really want to think about it? I thought not.
The most basic sausage consists of meat, cut into pieces or ground, and filled into a casing. The meat may be from any animal, but traditionally is pork, beef, or veal. The meat to fat ratio is dependent upon the style and producer, but in the United States, fat content is legally limited to a maximum of 30%, 35% or 50%, by weight, depending on the style.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines the content for various sausages and generally prohibits fillers and extenders. Most traditional styles of sausage from Europe and Asia use no bread-based filler and are 100% meat and fat excluding flavorings.
In the UK and other countries with English cuisine traditions, bread and starch-based fillers account for up to 25% of ingredients. The filler used in many sausages helps them to keep their shape as they are cooked. As the meat contracts in the heat, the filler expands and absorbs the moisture lost from the meat. ~ Wikipedia
I’m not a huge sausage eater, but I do like them on occasion. Chef P usually has a couple with his breakfast on the weekends. We get them usually from the grocery store…store brand and name brand and also from the butcher. Without knowing where they came from, you can definitely tell the difference. Store bought sausages will contain a good bit of filler; the cheaper the sausage, the more filler. On occasion I also get vegetarian sausages.
I’ve made my own sausages before but now that I’ve got a proper meat grinder and sausage maker that came with my new toy, it was time to make some properly filled sausages! We headed down to the butcher shop on Saturday and picked up a pork belly which they took the bones out of and some sausage casing. I was good to go.
I then set up the machine and cut up the pork belly to get it all minced. I removed the skin as I thought it would be too tough to run through the mincer. I also removed some of the fat as it appeared to be a bit too much.
I was really pleased with how the mincer worked! Once it was done, I mixed the meat with the spices and attached the sausage maker and casings. (sorry, no photo as I was too busy trying to stuff the meat down the shaft and hold onto the sausage as they came out!)
Once the casings were full, I twisted them at sausage length intervals and cut them apart.
If you have a mincer, by all means grind it yourself. If not, have the butcher do it for you. The casings can be gotten at the butcher also and should be kept in water until ready to use. Rinse water through them before using.
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp ground bay leaf
¼ tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
¼ tsp thyme
2¼ lbs. minced pork
¾ lb. minced pork fat
¼ C grated Parmesan cheese
¼ C cold water
Put all the spice mixture ingredients into a mortar and pestle or food chopper/processor and grind into a paste and set aside.
Mix pork, fat and Parmesan with your hands in a large bowl. Add the spice mixture and water and mix until well combined.
Slide the sausage casings onto the tube, put the meat into the feeder and push through while holding the casings as it fills up.
Once filled, twist the sausages into proper lengths.
Store in fridge for 3-4 days or freeze for later use.