Monday, April 12, 2021

Sausage Fest

“Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” -- John Godfrey Saxe, 1869

Sausage is one of humanity's oldest prepared foods and when made properly can potentially be stored without refrigeration for an extended period of time.

However, the sausage I made for this article needs to be refrigerated or frozen if it’s not to be eaten right away.

In order to make sausage, certain supplies will be needed. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Meat grinder
  • Sausage stuffer
  • Sausage casing
  • String or twist ties*
  • Meat
  • Additional fat*
  • Spices

* May not be necessary for all sausages

The author's old and new grinders

There are a variety of meat grinders on the market, from the basic and traditional hand-cranked style, through dedicated powered units, and then on to meat grinding attachments for other appliances. While I still have a vintage, cast iron, hand crank meat grinder (mine is called the Maid of Honor) I haven’t used it since I got the food grinder attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer.

Components of the grinder attachment

The sausage stuffer is attached to the outlet on a meat grinder, and is made up of a long tapered tube (called a horn) which holds the casing and feeds the ground meat. There are also dedicated manual stuffers available.

Stuffing horn replaces grinding disk

Sausage casing is traditionally made from cleaned and dried intestines, but is also available in various synthetics such as collagen, cellulose, plastic, and even 100% plant based casings, not all of which are edible. Depending on the type of casing, there may be additional preparation required, such as rinsing or soaking.

Once the sausage is stuffed the links will most likely need to be separated. While this can be done simply by twisting the sausage to separate them, I haven’t had good luck with this method and prefer twisting, then tying off with cotton string. Twist ties can also be used for this step.

I’ve made sausage from venison, chicken, and pork and eaten many more types. Nearly any cut of meat will do, but usually the cheaper and tougher cuts are used for sausage. This batch was made from a pork roast I got on sale at our local grocery outlet.

I also bought a pound of pork fat to add to the mix. It’s easy for sausage to turn out too dry, especially if it’s frozen for a while. Adding extra fat helps prevent this. Pork fat is the most common, but other solid animal or vegetable fats should work as well.

Where things can get really creative are in the spices. Italian sweet, Italian hot, Andouille, bratwurst, Asian, and many more mixes are available, or you can make up your own. My general guideline when starting a new batch is to scant the salt and any really powerful spices until I’ve had a taste test. It’s much easier to add more than to remove too much, after all.

After getting all the equipment and supplies ready, the first step is to grind the meat. For most sausage meats you should use the coarse grating disk, though there are some recipes that call for a double grind, first coarse then fine.

Once the meat is ground, add the spices and mix them into the meat using your hands. I tend to knead like I do with bread dough: fold the mix in half, press it down, rotate 90 degrees, and repeat. The spices should be evenly distributed.

Sausage mix with spices

Pull a tablespoon or so from the mix and fry it up in a pan, let it cool, and taste test. If necessary, adjust the spices and mix again. 

If your stuffing horn attaches to the grinder like mine does, clean the grinder before moving on to stuffing. Feed the casing onto the horn and tie off the end. This is very important, nay essential: tie off the end very well, else you may wind up with a counter covered in sausage stuffing.

Just over six feet of prime sausage

While you can separate the sausage into links while stuffing, I find doing this breaks my rhythm, so I prefer stuffing the entire length then dividing into individual sausages once I’m done.

Separated into links

Be careful not to overfill when stuffing the casing. There needs to be enough slack so you can twist or tie the links; if there isn’t enough room for the displaced filling, you can have a blowout. This happens, so don’t fuss if it does; in fact, I suffered a blowout in this batch and lost two links. The filling was salvaged and fried up as an addition to pasta and sauce for dinner that night. Yummy!

Don’t forget the last bit of filling left in the sausage stuffing horn and possibly in the screw threads as well. I heard this referred to as the Butcher’s Tithe many years ago and the term has stuck with me. Fry that up just like you did with the taste test at the beginning. After all, you earned it!

The basic recipe I mostly followed is below. I couldn’t find hog casings, so I used collagen instead. I of course adjusted the spices to taste, and I made six inch links instead of four, just because I could.

Sausage making is not complicated and allows for the use of some very inexpensive cuts of meat and meat scraps. If you take your time you get a more harmonious outcome. So next time someone tells you to “stuff it” you can say you have. Enjoy.

Andouille Sausage Recipe


  • 5 lbs. boneless pork butt (Untrimmed)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic granules
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, table grind
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 5-6 ft. 33-36MM hog casings


  1. For Andouille links, rinse the casings thoroughly in cold water, then place in lukewarm water prior to filling with the sausage mixture.
  2. Grind meat one time through coarse 3/8" or 1/2" plate.
  3. Combine ground meat with remaining ingredients; mix/knead well. 
  4. Taste test by frying a small quarter-size patty to see if you approve of the flavor as is.  Make changes if needed.
  5. Carefully stuff the sausage mixture into the casing, filling the casing snugly but not so tight it will burst open during the linking process.  Continue until the entire casing is filled.
  6. Form 4" sausage links by pressing the filled casing gently with your forefinger and thumb and twist four or five times in one direction, repeat and twist in the opposite direction until done.
  7. Or stuff the Andouille mixture into 1 or 2 lb. poly meat bags. Freeze slightly and then slice into 1/2" slices.
  8. Cook, fry, bake or broil just as you would any fresh pork sausage. Remainder should be frozen until needed.
Makes 5 lbs of sausage. 

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