I received a Kitchen-Aid meat grinder attachment for Christmas
I had really been wanting this particular accessory for my KA stand-mixer, and Santa (aka: husband) bought me one. I am interested in hearing your best Italian sausage recipes (mild), the best combos/ratios of cuts of beef for a great burger, and meatloaf, meatballs, etc. I am wondering if anyone has opinions on sausage casing brands and types. Also, I would love to hear about other things I might be able to create with this thing. I am very excited about it. Thanks in advance.
I have my basic sausage recipe (leave out cayenne/chile for mild) here (along with other folks)
and some more discussion here
I was fortunate enough to have an old-timer actually SHOW me how to make sausage (hand-crank grinder), but it does take a bit of practice to get the basics down.
Then it'll likely take quite a bit of tries to get a product EXACTLY to your liking.
Casings? I buy mine from an Italian market which they simply repackage (no brand). Its natural, salted hog casings. Before use, I rinse and run tap water through them, and cut in about 4 foot lengths. They sit in a bowl of cool water before being stuffed.
As a trick, I spray the stuffing tube with Pam so the casings slide off easier.
I tried saving the salted casings for my next sausage run (maybe 6 or 8 weeks), but they're not the same, so I always buy fresh when ready to do sausages.
The market also sells sheep intestines which is a smaller diameter. Good if you want the look of traditional merguez or breakfast sausage, but IMO, too much work for simply the look.
I tried man-made casings, but did not like the consistency.
I love cotechino, a pork skin sausage. I use a seasoned mix of ground pork meat (maybe 25%) and ground pork skin (maybe 75%).
If you like your sausage chunky/meaty (like me), simply pass the meat through the large diameter plate once then season & stuff.
Ifn you like your sausage with a finer consistency (like mrs. porker), pass the meat through the large diameter plate, then again through a smaller plate, season, stuff.
I'd suggest to get a coupla books on the subject (as mentioned in the threads above). Also, take notes on your technique and recipe used. It helps to zero in on your own likes later on (more/less salt, more/less fennel, etc etc).
I'll second Porkers recco for natural casings. I use them too , prepping them in an almost identical fashion, and have had great luck with them.
I like 3 parts chuck, 2 parts brisket and 1 part sirloin for burgers, but I also tend to mix it up with other cuts if they're on sale. I make chorizo more than sausage and use recipes from Diana Kennedy for both the red and green versions.
I really like the grinder part of this attachment but am less pleased with the stuffer part of it. I've had nothing but problems with it. No gray ooze just a lot of problems getting a satisfactory flow going. This may be because chorizo is bulkier/chunkier than breakfast sausage, but I'm not entirely sure about that. I just know that trying to use my stuffer attachment is time consuming, frustrating and something of a PITA. The grinder is a breeze
I don't have a kitchen-aid, but I did own a few electric grinders. I never liked stuffing with them either. They were either "on" or "off" with no control between.
I use my $30 hand-crank to stuff. It takes two of us, one to feed and crank, one to control the casing, but Mrs. porker and I enjoy the activity.
I'm not sure what the gray ooze is, but we've had our grinder for two years now and have great luck with ours.
We've made sausage twice and we haven't quiet perfected our recipe yet, so I don't have one to lead you to but there are a lot out there. I think the most important thing is figuring out your meat/fat ratio. We just did some venison sausage that came out too lean but we've done hamburger and venison burger in about an 80/20 ratio that came out really well. An old-time told us to use some bacon in blend and I think it added a lot of flavor (it didn't taste too "bacony" which I was a little worried about.) In regards to the casings, we've had great luck with Eastman Outdoors Hog casings. They come in a ziplock pouch, packed in salt. I bought mine from Amazon. Also, when making the sausage, make sure your meat is VERY cold. It makes it so much easier to fill into the casings.
Meat/fat ratio is one aspect to figure out, but to me, this is the beauty of making your own - you control what goes in. Sausage doesn't have to be ass&lips (or whatever the butcher throws out).
Fat means flavor, so generally, the more fat, the tastier, juicier your sausages will be. 10-20% fat will be on the dry side, but might be desired for diet considerations. These sausages do best when cooked in a liquid (like spaghetti sauce).
20-30% is somewhat tastier/juicier. 30-40% might be closer to whats considered ideal (commercial sausage are usually closer to 50%).
Make ham loaf! Ground ham blended w/ ground pork, breadcrumbs and some spices. You then baste it with a brown sugar & clove mixture and bake. It's Pennsylvania Dutch deliciousness and pairs well with potatoes au gratin. Here's a recipe:
Mrs. Whipples Ham Loaf
1 lb ground ham
1 lb ground fresh pork
1 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup milk
Mix together and shape into loaf.
Ham Loaf Glaze
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbl vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup water
Mix together and pour over loaf in an 8x8 pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours, basting occasionally.
re: Becca Porter
It's been a family recipe for a few generations. Everyone in most parts of PA have a similiar recipe. Every time I have it it reminds me of my childhood. My kids love it too. The great thing is, though, now I can buy the ham loafs at a butcher in PA when I'm visiting and freeze them. Then thaw and bake.
If you're interested, here is a thread I started a few years ago about ham loaf. It's pretty interesting: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611795
This is not something I would ever seek out a recipe for, but it looks quite yummy and I think hubs will enjoy it. Plus, when I was leaving his house the other day, my FIL handed me a large ham steak to bring home...uh, okay? I have never purchased a ham steak, but now? Into the grinder it goes! Thanks.
Thank you all! I will use many of your suggestions in good time. Tonight I am trying it for the first time. I decided to go with meatballs, instead of sausage, so I can get the grinding part down before the stuffing part. I am using Hazan' s recipe, including pancetta, but went with 1 1/2 lbs Chuck and 1/2 pound pork shoulder, instead of straight beef. While I was in the butcher, I noticed they have natural hog casings in salt, in their refrigerator, so I will buy them next time (funny how you can visit the same butcher hundreds of times but never notice the sausage casings until they are of interest to you). I am also curious about using a smoker in combination with making your own encased meat. My in-laws recently got a smoker and I am intrigued at what we can do if we put our resources together.
I think you're going about it the right way.
Sausage making/meat curing/smoking looks easy on paper. Its not that difficult, but (to me) its like chess - minutes to learn, a lifetime to master.
OK, well, not quite a lifetime.
There are specific techniques involved in each step and I often see beginners give up because they attempt to grind, stuff, smoke, and cure all on the first shot. When it doesn't come out, they're frustrated and ask "what did I do wrong", many times leading to giving up.
So I think your approach is brilliant: get to know how your machine grinds, after that, practice stuffing (it DOES take practice), then move on to the next step(s) (smoking, curing, etc).
Remember, this is FUN stuff.
Of interest on casings - I pick up a pack of salted casings only when I plan to make sausages. I pay about $6-7 for it which isn't a big deal. But, have a look at the price/pound and you'll realize its 4 to 7 times the price of the meat you're stuffing with! Like I say, not a big deal, but maybe somewhat interesting.
Why thank you Porker for such a lovely, encouraging comment! I also appreciate the insight from your experience. Well, I must say that I made the best meatballs ever, last night. I must give some credit to Ms. Hazan (I have been using a different recipe for years, but just finally got "Essentials....Italian Cooking), even though I tweaked her recipe a touch, but, wow....the texture of the home ground meat made such a difference! I have wanted the grinder, but honestly didn't know that it really does make ground meat so much better. Tonight, I make breakfast sausage patties, for tomorrow, with pork butt, fat back, several fresh herbs, and seasoning. Monday, I make my "Grandma' s Sweet and Sour Meatballs", on request to bring to my friend's NYE gathering. THEN....maybe I will try a cased sausage.
I use ours sporadically. When I can't find burger I trust I buy chuck roasts and grind burger. I have used ours to make brats.
I had good luck using the KA grinder to make brats. I made two massive batches for a food event. The only real problem was having to stop the mixer and let it cool down. It heated up with long grinding sessions. I have used a hand grinder also and the KA is way easier if there is only one person or doing huge batches. I would check where your casings from. I bought some once that came from a place that sold hunting gear and meat prep equipment. They were processed in China.
Not really what you asked for, I’ve been cooking mideastern food lately and that means ground lamb, sometimes mixed with ground beef. Finding good ground lamb other than at a high-end butcher can be problematic. I buy a boned leg of lamb at Costco, section it into amounts I’ll need making sure that each package has a good portion of fat in it, vacuum seal it, and then grind it while still partially frozen. Wonderful to have on hand when needed.
I don't make as much sausage as I used to since a lot more good sausage is currently available than was true 20 or 30 years ago. But I, too, used to buy no-name, repackaged natural casings at a local pork store and they lasted a long time in the freezer. I never had any problems with the sausage stuffer attachment. My recollection is that the learning curve was minimal.
I mostly use my KA grinder to grind suet for puddings. It's been a while since I made sausage, but I remember that it was tricky to load a whole casing onto the short funnel for stuffing, and that our arms got very tired pushing the sausage mixture through the grinder attachment while stuffing ( my version is ~15 years old and has the wooden dowel/pusher).