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How to Spice Pork Sausage
I don’t know many people who don’t like sausage – especially pork sausage. Now that could be because most of the people I know are southerners, or it could be because pork sausage is yummy! I divide sausage into two basic types: pan or bulk sausage and link sausage. Pan sausage is “loose” and is usually formed into small patties. Link sausage is made by stuffing the spiced meat into casings, usually sheep or pig intestines. Which type do I like best? Well, that depends mostly on the situation. For breakfast, I definitely prefer the patties, but for grilling, I like the links. Sausage patties can be grilled, much like hamburgers, but they’re better in the fry pan, in my opinion. We sometimes use the cooked sausage crumbled into sausage gravy, omelets, and grits, and we also use it in Brunswick stew, on pizzas, in meatballs, and in casseroles. Of course, a sausage patty in a buttermilk biscuit, topped with mustard and grape jelly is a southern favorite! If you’ve never made your own homemade pan sausage, why not? Give it a try. It’s really easy, and it’s pretty inexpensive, too. You probably already have all the herbs and spices you need in your kitchen cabinets. Feel free to use some of my tips and ideas for pork sausage, and let me know about your results!
I learned how to make homemade sausage years ago, when we were raising our own pigs and doing a lot of deer hunting. And by the way, just in case you don’t know, venison and pork go great together for sausage making! Whenever we made venison sausage, we always added some pork fat, some pork sausage, or both to the deer meat. Venison is very lean, and the ground pork or pork fat adds flavor and moisture, resulting in a wonderful sausage.
One of the best things about homemade sausage is that you can add your favorite ingredients, and it’s fun to experiment with sausage making. Really, it’s pretty hard to mess up pan sausage recipes, unless you use so much salt or other flavorings that the results are inedible. Otherwise, be creative! Who knows? You might just come up with the world’s best pork sausage recipe. Even if just your family thinks so, it’s well worth the effort.
How to spice pork sausage? Use a light hand at first. If you make a very small batch when you’re experimenting with sausage making, you can change or alter the ingredients in the next batch you make. Adding more is easy, but subtracting ingredients once they’ve been incorporated into the meat is virtually impossible – unless you add more ground pork.
If you’re making a large amount of sausage in small batches, you might like to freeze some. I do this in two ways. Sometimes I form the sausage into a roll, wrap it in foil or cling wrap, and then place it an airtight freezer bag. When I want to use it, I just let it partially thaw and slice the roll into patties. Another way to freeze pan sausage is to freeze the individual patties between waxed paper. The patties can then be placed in a large freezer bag, and you can take out the number you need for a meal.
Sausage making isn’t complicated. I’ll admit that it can be rather tedious and time consuming when you make it from scratch, grinding the meat yourself. And, of course, stuffing the ground sausage into the casings requires extra steps and extra sausage making equipment. On the other hand, meat grinders are handy things to have. Making sausage can be really easy, however, if you start with ground pork. And making bulk or pan sausage is super easy because you don’t have to worry with casings. You can grind the pork yourself, or you can have it done by a butcher. If you’re having the pork ground by a butcher, choose a pork shoulder or Boston butt with plenty of fat. Tell the butcher that you’re making sausage with the meat so that he’ll give you an appropriate grind.
How much fat should be in the meat? That’s pretty much up to you. Many sausage makers like to use one part fat to two parts lean meat. Personally, I like my sausages to be a little leaner. If you prefer lean sausage, I suggest frying them in a non-stick pan. I most often use my black iron skillet, but I add some oil to the pan before adding the sausage patties.
Here are some other tips for making sausage: keep your ground meat chilled. That’s another good reason for making smaller batches. Some sausage makers like to use some liquid in their mixture, and I agree. Just make sure the liquid is very cold. I like to soak my herbs and spices in the liquid before adding them to the meat. It sort of softens them up and seems to help them distribute more evenly. That brings me to another point. Be sure to mix the ingredients really well. If you don’t, you could wind up with one bite if bland sausage and another of super-seasoned sausage.
Sausage Making Equipment:
When you’re first starting out with homemade sausage, I suggest using easy sausage recipes. Make small amounts at first, until you get a good handle on what you do and don’t like, and for the right amounts of each ingredient. I’ve provided a table with some seasoning ideas for sausage recipes. If you want some sort of filler in the sausage, try using breadcrumbs, oats, apples, or rice. Actually, I tried adding some leftover mashed potatoes to some sausage tonight, and I was very happy with the results!
How to Spice Pork Sausage
red pepper flakes
chopped bell pepper
Easy Country Sausage
This is an easy sausage recipe you might like to try. It would serve as a good way to get started with sausage making. This version is pretty mild to me, but I like heat and often eat Mexican and other hot, spicy foods, so you might find this recipe is a little spicy.
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- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon ice water
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Lawry's garlic salt with parsley
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Place pork in freezer for a few minutes to chill.
- While meat is chilling, pour water and remaining ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Let stand for about ten minutes in the fridge.
- Combine ground meat with seasoning liquid.
- Cover and leave in refrigerator for about an hour.
- Form into patties and fry in an oiled skillet over medium heat until brown, about 5 minutes per side.
- Drain on paper towels.
Smoked sausage has a wonderful smoky taste that is traditionally produced by smoking link sausage over slow burning, smoky fires. The wood used varies widely, depending on availability, the personal choice of the sausage makers, and by geographical region. The smoking woods can range from hickory to pecan to juniper, and practically anything in between.
Obviously, if you’re making sausage in pan form, it’s pretty hard to smoke them. You can still add some smoky flavor, however, and it’s easy to do. For easy smoked sausage, just add some bottled Liquid Smoke in place of any other liquid you might otherwise use in the meat mixture. Liquid Smoke is a product made by Colgin, and it comes in several flavors: hickory, pecan, mesquite, and applewood. We love these products!
We’ve made lots of venison sausage over the years from whitetail deer that we’ve harvested. Deer meat is super lean, so we always added some pork fat to the mixture. Sometimes we added some ground pork that had a high fat content. Our venison sausage was usually in the form of pan or bulk sausage, but the mixture of deer meat and spices can be stuffed into casings, too.
If the venison is “gamey,” adding some ground pork will help neutralize any of that. Using extra herbs and spices will help, too. Deer sausage links are great on the grill, and the pan venison sausage is perfect for breakfast, with eggs, grits, and homemade biscuits. If you like, you might also want to try smoking some of the links on a meat smoker. The smokiness pretty much overshadows any “wild” taste of the deer meat, if you think that might be a problem for you. You might also want to consider adding some Liquid Smoke flavoring.
Italian sausage is almost always pork sausage. The American version is usually seasoned with anise and fennel, and the hotter version usually includes red pepper flakes. If you reside in the United States, these are most likely the types of Italian sausage with which you’re most familiar. It’s often found on pizzas, in hot pasta dishes, and in sautés with onions and peppers. There are, however, other types of Italian sausage.
Cotechino is another type of pork sausage, but it’s made mostly from the rind of the pork, along with fat and spices. Mortadella is a type of cured Italian sausage, made with ground pork, hard pork fat, myrtle berries, black pepper, and nutmeg, sometimes along with coriander, pistachio nuts, pimiento peppers, olives, or jalapeno peppers. Ciauscolo is a type of Italian sausage that’s more or less like a pate, as it’s very soft and spreadable. It’s usually made from pork shoulder meat and pork fat or pig’s liver and is seasoned with garlic, wine concentrates, and black pepper. It’s traditionally smoked over juniper.
Boudin sausage originated in France and Belgium, and there are several different types. The typical boudin blanc is made with fresh pork, and it’s usually seasoned with some combination of marjoram, sage, eggs, oatmeal or some type of bread, and cream or milk. Organ meats are sometimes included. The resulting links are pale or “white” sausages. Boudin is extremely popular in the United States as an integral part of Cajun cuisine, but the Cajun version is usually bolder. And instead of oatmeal or bread crumbs, rice is often used in these sausage recipes. Cajun boudin is often seasoned with onion, garlic, celery, cayenne, and bell peppers. In Cajun cooling, not all boudin sausage is made from pork. Seafood is often used, including shrimp, crabmeat, or crawfish. In some parts of Louisiana, meat from alligators is used.
Boudin can be poached, grilled, braised, fried, or simmered. Sometimes the sausage mixture isn’t stuffed into casings. Instead, the meat is formed into balls and rolled in bread crumbs. It’s then fried or deep fried. Boudin balls are another popular version of the sausage that’s used with Cajun cuisine.
Andouille sausage is another frequent ingredient found in Cajun cuisine, as well as in Creole cuisine. Andouille is pork sausage, originally comprised mostly of organ meats. Much of today’s version, however, is made from muscle cuts, including pork from the shoulders and/or the hindquarter. Typical seasonings include cayenne, black pepper, garlic, and thyme. Other ingredients might include onion, hot peppers, or bell peppers. The spiced meat is stuffed into casings and smoked, often over fires made from dried sugar cane stalks or pecan wood. Andouille is often used in regional dishes such as gumbo, red beans and rice, and jambalaya. It also appears in soups, casseroles, stews, pasta dishes, grits, and egg dishes.
In the U.S., polish sausage is usually known as kielbasa. It’s often pork sausage but can often be made from other meats, including veal, beef, lamb, or chicken. Kielbasa is sort of a catch-all term that applies to several different types of sausages. Some are fresh, some are cured, and some are smoked. In their place of origin, the links are often smoked over juniper. Popular ingredients, in addition to ground meat, are garlic, black pepper, marjoram, juniper berries, caraway, coriander, red pepper flakes, allspice, and paprika. Organ meats, blood, buckwheat, or barley might be included, too.
Polish sausage can be served and prepared in a wide range of methods. Some are eaten at room temperature, some are eaten cold, while others are served hot. The sausages can be steamed, grilled, sautéed with onions, fried, or boiled and served on buns. It’s used in soups, stews, scrambled eggs, on sandwiches, and as snacks and appetizers.
German sausage includes several varieties of sausages that are very familiar to Americans. In fact, one of the most all American foods, the hot dog, has German origins. The pork sausage we know as the frankfurter came from Frankfurt, Germany, and the sausage we know as the wiener came from Vienna. In some instances, the sausages are made from a mixture of pork and beef. The meats are usually seasoned with paprika, garlic, black pepper, white pepper, onion, marjoram, or mace. They’re then packed into casings and cooked. Sometimes the casings are removed before being sold as skinless hot dogs, wieners, or franks.
Pork sausage is awesome for making sausage dogs, which brings us to our next variety. Another German sausage that’s popular in the U.S. is bratwurst. It’s usually made from a combination of pork and beef, or pork, beef, and veal. In the U.S., however, bratwurst is sometimes all pork sausage. Brats might be seasoned with marjoram, nutmeg, lemon, sugar or corn syrup, and/or black pepper. Grilling is a favorite cooking method for bratwurst, but they can also be roasted, pan fried, or sautéed with onions or cabbage. Brats steamed or poached in beer are also popular, especially when served on a bun or roll with spicy mustard. And speaking of mustard, it’s the perfect condiment for sausage. You don’t have to stick with regular old mustard, though. Try some brown mustard, honey mustard, or horseradish mustard next time you’re having pork sausage!