Sausage Making: The Basics
Sausage making isn’t difficult, and sausage can be made from practically any type of meat, poultry, wild game, or game birds. I’ve had sausage recipes made from pork, beef, turkey, venison, and duck. I once even tried some rabbit sausage, and it was quite tasty. I also had some bear sausage once, but I didn’t care for it. The great thing about making your own sausage is that you can add any sausage seasoning you like, and you can also control the fat content. Sausage making recipes make efficient use of meat scraps, too, so you can even make sausage from a combination of different meats and game. This is a wonderful idea for venison sausage. I’ve always mixed some ground pork or beef with my deer sausage. As long as you have a meat grinder, some meat, and some sausage seasoning, you’re in business! Of course, if you want to make link sausage, you’ll also need some casings and a sausage stuffer.
Sausage making tips for meats
Whatever type of meat you’re using, you need to be sure to remove any gristle and fascia (silver skin) first. Cut the meat into cubes that are small enough to feed into your grinder. The meat needs to be very cold, too. The texture of the ground meat is up to you. Most people, however, like a finer grind if the sausage is going to be stuffed into casings. If you’re making bulk or pan sausage, you might prefer a grind that’s not as fine. Also, if the meat you’re using is very lean, you’ll probably want to add some fat to the mix. The ground meat needs to “stick together,” and fat will help it to do so. Fat also enhances the flavor of sausage recipes.
Sausage making tips for wild game
Even for people who enjoy eating wild game recipes, some don’t care for a lot of “wild” taste. You might know the term as “gamey.” This gaminess largely depends on the animal’s gender and age, along with its regular diet. In many game animals, much of the gamey taste is concentrated in the fat. That’s one reason you’ll need to remove all the fat from game animals before making it into sausage. There’s something else about the fat in wild game that you need to understand. In some game animals, like deer, the fat has an unpleasant texture. Venison fat is waxy unless it’s heated to a very high temperature.
The skinny on the added fat
Think about the texture of fat for a moment. Now imagine that fat “gumming” up in the grinder. That’s why it’s important to place the fat you’re going to add to your sausage recipes in the freezer for a while. Cut the fat in cubes first, and when it’s very firm and almost frozen, it’s ready to use in your sausage making recipes.
Some good fats to use in sausage recipes include beef suet, pork fat, and solidified bacon grease. Fatty cuts of pork and beef are also good to use in sausage. This is especially true if you want to “tone down” the wild taste of game.
Sausage seasoning: dry and semi-dry ingredients
You can season your sausage with a wide array of ingredients. If you’re making homemade sausage for the first time, I suggest you start with a small batch until you find out which seasonings you like best. Here are some ingredients you might want to try:
Red pepper flakes
Ground red pepper
Chopped jalapeno peppers
Chopped habanero peppers
Roasted sweet peppers
Liquid sausage seasoning
Many people like to add flavor to their sausage recipes with liquids. You’ll need to add just a little bit of liquid – you don’t want soggy sausages. If you use a slight hand, you won’t have to worry about this. Ground meats have a lot of surface area that will enable the meats and fats to absorb a little liquid. Some of the liquids you might like to try with your sausage recipes:
Apple cider vinegar
If you’re making patty sausage, you won’t have to worry about casings. If, however, you want to make link sausage, you’ll need to stuff the ground sausage into some casings. There are several different types of sausage casings from which to choose. These include beef casings, hog casings, sheep casings, and casings made from collagen. You can even find vegetarian and vegan sausage casings! If you don’t care about consuming the casing themselves, you might be interested in synthetic sausage casings. You’ll also need to decide on what size you want your sausage links to be, according to the diameter of the sausage casings.