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.
A bit off topic but Huntington Meats in The Farmers Market has a sausage class a few times a year, give them a call, I took it and loved it.