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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Little More on Homemade Fresh Sausage..

Who knew this could be so easy??

I think of all the many things people did for themselves for years and years and years and now they pay someone to do-- making sausage is one of those things.

Sure--there are folks who excel at sausage making and they are the 'experts' but hey! Can't an average homemaker whip up a bit of ground meat & spices on her own? Of course!

fun fun fun here in Pokeberry. ;)

Anyhow-- Here's just some short 'tips' I have picked up.

THE METHOD:
Grind your meat, fat and water together using whatever machine you have for that job. Mix your spices and herbs in by hand. Cool 3 hours or overnight. Voila!

TOOLS:
OK-- I admit I own a Vita Mix-- that's almost cheating its so easy. A Vita Mix is basically like a blender on steroids. It has a 2 horse power motor--so it takes just seconds to ground up a pound of meat very fine. There are other gadgets that will make sausage however and if you look about your cupboards you may find you own something suitable--at least try what you have before investing in a real meat grinder. Cut the meat in little chunks before you start that will help.

Another tool I have that is wonderful is my old thrift store coffee grinder --I use it to grind up herbs and spices and dry veggies like onions, peppers and garlic--this makes it very easy to create spice mixes. If you ever see one at a rummage sale--snatch it up!

FAT:
From what I have read so far it seems the rule of thumb is to have 1/3 fat in your meat. Now I don't think in these low-fat days we need 1/3 fat.I used 1 tablespoon of oil per pound of chicken breast and I added a little bit of cheese- mozarella--but you can use something else. to my mix and it was plenty moist and flavory with the spices & herbs, we didn't miss the fat at all. I used my hand grater to grate in about 3 tablespoons of cheese after my meat was already ground up.

WATER:
I added just a little water--a couple tablespoons to a pound of meat. I put this in with the oil I used when I ground my meat. This is supposed to help the spices dissolve and permeate the meat mix and also to get a sausage consistency--this is my 'take' on what I've read so I hope I'm not saying something dumb--but it worked fine.

SALT:
I beefed up my garlic, onion and ground peppers (paprika, powdered cayenne, bell pepper) and added some fresh herb--sage mainly--as well as other herbs/spices. I did not need as much salt as might be in store bought sausage--another plus. I just hand sprinkled kosher salt on the mix --maybe a teaspoon to a pound of chicken in all--though I didn't really measure this. (I'm still experimenting--and you can certainly add more salt after cooking if you need it!)

MSG:
Sure you can add MSG or Accent or whatever--but I didn't and my sausage was plenty tasty.

SMOKING:
Well there are ways to smoke a small amount of meat in a home kitchen. I'm not that excited about smoked sausage so I haven't explored that much. I do keep a few different flavored liquid smokes in my spice cabinet, I'm sure you could use one if you like. I personally stock hickory, apple and mesquite. I've also got a little collection of extracts which might be useful--Maple comes in an extract form for instance. I may try apple and maple when I do a breakfast sausage. :)

COOLING:
After I ground my meat with a little oil and water in my Vita Mix (use whatever you have that will do the job) I put it in a bowl and mixed salt, a little bit of sugar and herbs and spices in by hand with a fork. Since I was only doing 1 pound--this worked fine. I then took my mixture and covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a few hours. Overnight could be even better but 3 hours worked fine. This gave it time to just develop a really nice flavor.

BROWNING:
When my sausage was all done I browned it in a cast iron pan coated with some veggie oil. I don't think it is too important which oil you use--I'm sure olive works I just am out of it. I used my cast iron because it is heavy and heats very evenly and I almost never burn anything in it. I kept the heat at about medium and using a wooden spoon I turned, 'chopped' and stirred the sausage as it browned and kept it from burning. Without a lot of fat-- burning could be easier--so I was careful to tend it well.

FREEZING:
If you haven't started with thawed meat--your meat was fresh at the start--you can freeze your raw sausage. If you started with frozen meat--then you need to cook it before you freeze it. That's a basic meat rule of thumb. I never re-freeze raw meat--it won't kill you--but it won't be very good either.

IDEA FOR NEXT TIME:
I may add a little bit of a browning sauce to my mix next time-- Kitchen Bouquet is a good one--you can make a homemade version with molasses and sugar and water, the recipe should be easy to find on a google search. The reason is chicken breast is so white--it doesn't matter at all really, but I think we like the looks of a darker sausage--so I may add a bit of that next time. I used some paprika in my first couple batches to 'color' the sausage a little as it cooked.

I made a tomato, red bell pepper, mushroom, onion and sausage sauce yesterday with a new batch of homemade chicken sausage. I plan to use it for lunch today over some pre-cooked pasta--I'm taking my lunch. While I'm working my bread maker will be making some beer pizza crust. I'm loading it before I go and setting a timer. The dough should be ready when I get home so I can quickly make some pizzas. I can then just use this sauce on my pizza crust and add some cheese-- done!

All in all I believe my mixture was far healthier and less expensive than what we usually buy. I have not yet 'written down' a recipe for this as I'm still playing with it. I started to at least take some notes on it yesterday when I made a batch for a pasta & pizza sauce. Of course the more you do any new thing the better and faster you get at it and you add it into your routine etc.. This was just fun and so easy!! A great new $$$ Saver for Pokeberry!!

2 comments:

  1. You know, it never occurred to me that I could make my own sausage. I never buy it, because it's so expensive, but I may very well try making it myself! Thanks for the idea!

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  2. I know! Its like you want to hit yourself on the head and say 'duh!'

    This is truly NOT a hard thing to do--and gosh so economical.. I'm hooked already.

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