Home Sausage Making is the most comprehensive go-to reference on the subject — and the re-designed fourth edition is better than ever, with 60 percent new and updated recipes, the most current guidelines for popular charcuterie techniques such as dry curing and smoking, and more. Step-by-step photos make the process accessible for cooks of all levels, and 100 recipes range from breakfast sausage to global favorites like mortadella, liverwurst, chorizo, salami, kielbasa, and bratwurst. Recipes for using wild game, chicken, seafood, and vegetables ensure there’s something for every taste. An additional 100 recipes highlight creative ways to cook with sausage.
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About the Author
The late Charles G. Reavis authored the original edition of Home Sausage Making, published in 1981. He was a chef and writer, and an English teacher in Endwell, New York.
Evelyn Battaglia has completely updated Home Sausage Making for the 4th Edition, along with Mary Reilly. Battaglia was Executive Editor of Cookbooks and Special Interest Publications at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and Deputy Editor of Everyday Food for many years. She has a Professional Culinary Degree from the International Culinary Institute, and currently is a freelance writer for national magazines and books. She lives in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
Mary Reilly, along with Evelyn Battaglia, has updated Home Sausage Making for the 4th Edition. For many years, Reilly ran her own catering business, The Savory Kitchen, and was chef/owner of Enzo Restaurant and Bar in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Reilly is now the executive chef at Westfield State University and publisher of Edible Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts.
Read an Excerpt
Everything has an end except a sausage, which has two.
— Danish proverb
Sausage was born of necessity, a way of preserving meat in times of plenty to eat when life turned lean. The fact that it tasted good, made efficient use of a slaughtered animal, and could be seasoned and shaped according to the sausage maker's taste meant sausage was a real keeper in the larder, right next to cheese, wine, beer, dried lentils, and other staples.
The word sausage comes to us by way of the Middle English sausage and the Old French saussiche, all from the Latin word salsus, meaning "salted." The ancient Romans served highly seasoned sausages at every festive occasion. Not only did the salt, pepper, spices, and fat enhance the flavor, but they also helped to preserve the sausages, while the intestines into which the ingredients were stuffed helped to keep out microbes. Sausages that weren't consumed immediately were smoked or left hanging in the hot, dry Mediterranean winds.
Homer mentioned the Greeks' love for grilled sausage in the Odyssey. The legionnaires of Imperial Rome wouldn't march without their little bottles of garum (a fermented fish sauce) and long strings of dried or smoked sausages.
Sausage making really took off in Europe during the medieval period, when an energetic spice trade and returning Crusaders brought exotic seasonings and new cooking techniques to sleepy farms and villages. Medieval towns all across Europe — Bologna, Frankfurt, Vienna, and many others — gave their names to distinctive sausages that are still enjoyed today.
In North America, Native Americans dried and smoked venison and buffalo meat to make jerky, and they stuffed meat, suet, and berries into skins to make pemmican (see Pemmican).
Part of the original portable feast, sausage still delights our palates. It is a sturdy, nourishing comfort food, a link, so to speak, to the past. Today, homemade sausages are still popular among hunters, who like to make good use of the wild game they bring home. People who raise livestock also turn to sausage as a delicious way to make economical use of their animals at slaughtering time. But as our recipes will demonstrate, you can live in a tiny city apartment and shop in a supermarket and still make your own tasty, distinctive sausage. It's true: Sausage making is for everyone.
Types of Sausages
There are literally thousands of varieties of sausage in the world, but in the inimitable words of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): "Sausages are either ready to eat or not." Indeed, the USDA groups sausages into two types: uncooked, including fresh bulk sausage, patties, links, and some smoked sausages; and ready to eat, including dry, semidry, and/or cooked sausages.
Classifying sausages into categories is difficult because sausages are produced by so many different methods. Following is a simple classification of various types and how they should be stored and cooked.
Fresh sausages, such as breakfast and Italian sausages, must be kept refrigerated and used within a few days, or frozen for up to three months (they won't spoil after this time but their flavor will begin to wane). Fresh sausages must always be cooked before serving.
Cooked sausages are just that — fully cooked, as by poaching or smoking, during processing. Examples include frankfurters and bologna. Similar to fresh sausages, cooked sausages must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer; however, these may be eaten without any further heating or cooking, though many are intended to be heated again before serving.
Other ready-to-eat sausages, also called preserved or cured sausages, are treated with salt and other additives to impart different flavors and extend storage time. Some sausages, including pepperoni, are cured, or preserved, by drying, and some are smoked as well during processing. These sausages need no further cooking and are considered shelf stable, meaning they can be kept at a cool room temperature, such as hanging in your cold cellar, until slicing. After that, they will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator or months in the freezer.
It would be futile to try to catalog all of the varieties of sausage in the world. Some kinds are made only in a small region or even a single household. As you learn to make all manner of sausages, you'll no doubt be inspired to personalize the recipes to create your own unique variety. After all, sausage is a state of mind — and a delightful matter of taste.
The Cree tribes of the North American woodlands called animal fat pimyi, from which we get the word pemmican. The Cree and other tribes dried strips of meat from buffalo, deer, rabbits, squirrels, and antelope, creating a product like jerky. This dried meat was nourishing and easy to carry, but it became moldy in wet weather. To solve the mold problem, the Cree made rawhide bags about the size of a pillowcase, filled them with pulverized bits of dried meat, dried berries, herbs, and nuts, and poured in hot melted bone marrow and fat. Then they sewed the bags shut and walked on them to compress the mixture and drive out air. The bone marrow and fat cooled and congealed around the meat, effectively sealing it. The Cree had, in effect, created a very large sausage.
A Few Ground Rules
Keep in mind that the texture of sausage is first determined by the amount of meat (or other base ingredients), fat, and liquid. What every maker strives for is an ideal meat-to-fat ratio that will produce the desired taste and, more important, mouthfeel. Too little fat and you'll end up with a tough product. Plus, fat carries flavor. But use too much fat and the result is, not surprisingly, a greasy link. What experienced sausage makers know is how to achieve that ratio no matter which part of the animal they are using — leaner pork tenderloins require more pork fat, while pork shoulder may not need any additional fat at all (that's why pork shoulder is a sausage maker's best friend).
The other factor that determines texture is how those elements are combined. Starting with clean equipment in good working order, with sharp blades (called "plates" or "disks") and dies, is a must; a dull blade will not only cause the meat to heat up during a slow grind but also turn the meat into mush.
The practice of stuffing may seem like much ado (especially for fresh sausage), but it is beyond doubt worth every ounce of energy and any measure of time spent in the endeavor. Besides lending sausage its signature shape, the casing helps to improve the texture of the finished product and meld the flavors. That sublimely satisfying snap! just doesn't happen when you shape the mixture into patties, no matter how well prepared.
Supplies and Sundries
The tools of the trade are few but critical to success. You'll need to know the different types of equipment, as well as how the steps will vary depending on your choice of equipment. You'll also need to absolutely commit to keeping your tools clean at all times, and not only to protect your investment.
What's more, you'll need to understand the various ingredients that go into making sausage. No surprise here: Always seek out the best-quality ingredients available to ensure that you get the best-tasting sausage. That's never more true than when shopping for meat, and we highly encourage you to shop locally to find the freshest meats possible. (See Meat-Eater's Mea Culpa.)
Once you've procured all the essentials, you'll want to take a cue from the French, who have a term for culinary preparedness: mise en place. This means you should have everything gathered together and "in its place" before you start a recipe. By "everything" we mean all of the equipment and ingredients you will need. So where better to begin than with a description of "everything."
Sausage making requires only one or two pieces of specialized equipment: a meat grinder and sausage stuffer, plus a smoker if you are going to take that step. You probably already have the rest of the gear in your kitchen. There is a bevy of online sources for new equipment, but yard sales, auctions, and flea markets are all good places to pick up secondhand versions — perhaps exactly what your grandparents would have used to make sausage back in the day.
If you are going to go to all the effort of making sausage, then you must start by grinding the meat yourself. Using preground meat from the supermarket will simply not yield the desired texture and flavor (and there's no way to guarantee what's actually in that shrink-wrapped package). There are many different options available; the one you choose largely depends on how often you plan to make sausage, and in what size batches.
Grinder attachment for heavy-duty mixer. For beginning or occasional sausage makers, we find that a grinder that attaches to a sturdy stand mixer is an excellent gateway tool — and a good alternative to purchasing a separate grinder, especially if you've already invested in the mixer. Check the instruction manual and warranty to make sure your mixer's motor is powerful enough to handle the heavy work of grinding meat. You'll want to buy extra plates (or disks) if you start to increase your output; dull ones will mar the final outcome. You can also get the blades and dies sharpened by a professional knife sharpener as necessary.
Hand grinders. An old-fashioned cast-iron hand grinder is another inexpensive option and will last for generations. Many are still made in Eastern Europe, where sausage making is a long-standing tradition. A heavy-duty hand grinder will either clamp or bolt onto a countertop. Be sure that you can achieve a sturdy grip either way, for grinding meat does involve a good deal of elbow grease and torque.
Electric grinders. If you don't want to get "sausage elbow" grinding meat by hand, or if you intend to make a lot of sausage frequently, an electric grinder is a worthy and wise investment. Kitchen stores, restaurant-supply shops, and many online sources have grinders in a range of models and prices.
Food processors. If you own a heavy-duty food processor, it can do a splendid job of chopping meat. Models with a wide feed tube work best for sausage making. Check the instruction manual and warranty to see if the motor on your model is strong enough for chopping meat. (Models with smaller motors can overheat easily and burn out.) The major drawback to using a food processor is that it is all too easy to overprocess meat: A few seconds too many, and a pound of meat cubes will be reduced to the consistency of toothpaste.
Grinder plates (or disks). All grinders and grinding attachments come with a choice of grinding plates: ½ inch (extra coarse), ¾ inch (coarse), ¼ inch (medium), and 3/16 inch (fine). To sharpen grinding plates, place a sheet of emery cloth (available at hardware stores) on a flat surface; rub the plates over the cloth, using circular motions. Or take the plates to a professional knife sharpener.
FOR BEGINNERS ONLY: SAUSAGE FUNNELS
Also called hand stuffers, these are handheld funnels that you use to push the meat into casings. The funnels range in size from ½ inch to 2 inches, and each relates to the size of the sausage casing. For example, a ½-inch funnel is appropriate for hot dogs, while a 1 ¼-inch model is good for Italian sausages. Sausage funnels are straight, not tapered, and are usually about 5 inches long. Most are plastic and inexpensive. (Don't be tempted to make do with an ordinary kitchen funnel — most are too tapered on the small end and not long enough to gather up the casings.) Hand-stuffing sausages takes a long time, and it's worth exploring one of the other options to make the task that much easier.
Unless you plan on forming your sausage base into patties, you will need a way to stuff your sausage mixture into casings. It's worth noting that some advanced grinders also come with sausage stuffers, but many people (including advanced makers) prefer one of the following over that option. And if your heavy-duty electric stand mixer has a grinding attachment available, the manufacturer probably also sells a sausage-stuffing attachment, though the range of casing sizes that mixers can accommodate is generally more limited. This might be fine for the beginning sausage maker who plans to make only a few batches a year.
There are two basic types of stuffers, and the one you choose will depend on your skill level and how often you plan to use it:
Push stuffers. If you are just starting out and only plan to make smaller batches, you may want to try your hand with a horn stuffer, named for the shape of its shaft. Although it requires more muscle power, it is easier to control the pace in which you add the meat, for more even stuffing (if you go too slow with an electric one, the casing could be too loose, and vice versa).
This manual stuffer has traditionally been made of chrome- or tinplated cast iron, though stainless steel models are now also available. Capacities range from 3 to 5 pounds of sausage. To work it, you must push down on a handle to force out the meat, which requires a fair amount of muscle power. Some experienced sausage makers still prefer to use this type of manual stuffer when making emulsified sausages or those with cheese added to the mixture, as the heat of the auger in electric stuffers can cause the mixture to warm up during stuffing.
Crank stuffers. If you find yourself making a lot of sausage, or if you want to save yourself from the effort of using a push stuffer, it may be worth investing in a crank model. These offer a gear ratio to make it easier to crank out the meat. There are two main types of crank stuffers, based on the orientation of the crank to the work surface, and each comes in manual or electric models and ranges in capacity from 5 to 15 or 20 pounds.
Horizontal stuffers have a large pistonlike cylinder for holding the meat that is mounted horizontally, and the meat is extruded when you turn the crank at the other end of the cylinder or turn on the electric motor. The manual version must be put near the edge of a table or counter to allow enough clearance to turn the crank, making it less than ideal for some folks.
Vertical stuffers are hands down the most favored stuffers by beginners and professionals alike (especially the latter, who prefer the larger-capacity, commercial-grade electric models). With these models, the cylinder that holds the sausage mixture is mounted vertically, and it extrudes the meat from the stuffing tube at the bottom of the unit.
Almost as important as the grinder and stuffer are the tools you will use in preparing and measuring the ingredients and also in testing for doneness in cooked sausages.
Scales. A reliable scale for weighing meats and other ingredients is essential. For small batches of sausage, a scale often termed a 1 by 11 (1-ounce increments, up to 11 pounds) should suffice. For the more ambitious, a 2 by 22 (the standard meat scale, 2ounce increments, up to 22 pounds) may be more desirable. You can find inexpensive scales (even digital ones) at kitchen shops and online. Be sure to buy one that measures in both metric and imperial units (grams and ounces). You will find many other uses for the scale around the house once you have it.
If you plan to make cured sausages, the USDA recommends that you also have a smaller scale that can weigh curing ingredients (primarily sodium nitrite) to the nearest one-tenth of a gram. (For more information about curing agents in sausage, see Cures)
Measuring cups and spoons. A good set of measuring spoons, from ¼ teaspoon up to 1 tablespoon, will come in handy with every recipe. A glass measuring cup for liquids and a set of dry measuring cups, ¼ cup to 1 cup, will also be useful.
Knives. A good knife may be the single most important tool you use in making sausage because so much of the job involves cutting, boning, and trimming the meat, poultry, and fish that will be ground into your sausage. No doubt you already have a prized knife that you keep sharp with a stone or other sharpening device. If you have both a chef's knife and a boning knife, you are already well equipped.
If you don't already own at least one excellent knife (by this we mean one made from high-carbon stainless steel, which can be sharpened to a razor's edge), now is the time to make an investment. Wash it by hand only and store it in a knife block or separated from other utensils. The high-quality knife will last a knifetime ... make that a lifetime.
Excerpted from "Home Sausage Making"
Copyright © 2017 Storey Publishing, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
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Table of ContentsPreface to the 4th Edition
Part One: The Basics
Chapter 1: Sausage 101
Chapter 2: Essential Techniques
Part Two: The Sausages
Chapter 3: Pork Sausages
Chapter 4: Beef, Lamb, and Veal Sausages
Chapter 5: Combination Sausages
Chapter 6: Game Sausages
Chapter 7: Poultry Sausages
Chapter 8: Seafood Sausages
Chapter 9: Vegetarian Sausages
Part Three: Cooking with Sausage
Chapter 10: Sausage for Breakfast or Brunch
Chapter 11: Sausage Starters
Chapter 12: Sausage for Lunch or Dinner
Metric Equivalents and Conversions
Spice Weights and Measures