Lessons From My Butcher: Making Sausage

OK, first of all, I wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed chatting with you about food ethics and meat-eating.  Thank you!  And if you haven’t weighed in yet on my first butchery post, I’d like to invite you to do so.  I have some good news– I talked with David and Caroline today, and they would like to continue teaching me (and us!) more butchery, and even some curing techniques.  I am really excited about this!

Now, I’d like to continue where I left off yesterday, and share with you my first experience making sausages.  As we were breaking down the pig, there were a lot of smaller pieces set aside for this purpose.  They were broken into two categories: fat and lean.

The main thing when choosing the meat for the sausages was to select equal parts lean and fat, to achieve the right textural balance.  I cut up little bits of each, and threw them in the bowl on the scale in equal proportion, until  I had close to a kilo of meat.

David introduced me to the meat grinder, and seemed amused when I was all, “Cool– I’ve always wanted to use one of these!”

I fed the meat through the top, and, sure enough, it came out as ground pork!

To the ground pork, we added about 10% of a gluten-free rusk, which was a blend of rice flour, super-fine salt, and spices.

A bit of water was added as well, to make it easier to blend the rusk into the meat.  I will just note here that the adding of rusk is something I haven’t really seen before.  It seems like a distinctly British way of making sausage. I prefer just meat and spices, but it does make the texture much lighter and more cohesive.  David and Caroline worked for years to perfect their base rusk recipe.  It’s good!

Today we were making marmalade sausages!  David just added a couple heaping spoonfuls of store-bought marmalade, and I mixed that in well with my hands.

This machine is the sausage stuffer.  We loaded the meat in there, and put something that looked kind of like a plunger in the end, to get it all pressed in without any air bubbles.  There is a crank that steadily presses the sausage meat through the tip.

Sausage casings were soaking in water, and I slid them onto the nozzle.

OK.  Let me just stop right here and tell you that there is a certain awkwardness to making sausages (or even talking about sausages) in mixed company.  David and Caroline joke around a lot, and I inevitably come to a point where I just start blushing and don’t know what to do.  But I persevered.

A knot was tied at the end of the casing, and then the trick was to steadily crank the meat into the casing, trying to keep it as even as possible, without over or under-filling.And then there was a kilo of sausage!The trickiest part was actually the separating of the pieces and flipping them around and through each other to make that complex signature sausage knot.

And here they are! We had them for dinner, and they were really good!

Have you made sausage before?  Also, any special requests for butchery topics?

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Lessons From My Butcher Making Sausage!

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19 Responses to Lessons From My Butcher: Making Sausage

  1. doro September 21, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    I’ve always wanted to use one of those grinders too. Did I ever tell you that my uncle is a sausage maker?

    http://www.simply-sausage.com/

    • Ariana Mullins September 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

      Yes, I remember that about your uncle! Super cool!

  2. Rocio September 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Ha! This post was informative with cute chuckles thrown in! Did the sausage maker have a pedal to propel the pork mixture into the casing? Was it the casing pork intestine from the pig you broke down? If so, points for using all parts of the pig!

    • Rocio again September 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      Oops, never mind about the pedal. Forgot that you said it was a crank.

    • Ariana Mullins September 22, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      Rocio, the casings came separately. In fact, the side of pork comes without the internal organs(except kidney)– called the “pluck”– I think the abattoir passes those parts on to someone else who will process them. Most of the pig does get used, but not all at the same location. I opted not to put a picture of the pig’s head on that first post– thought it might be too much, too soon. :)
      Glad I made you chuckle! One picture of me from the sausage making process came out looking almost obscene, so I skipped that one, too!

  3. Great Aunt Gretchen September 23, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    What are the casings made from/out of?
    Fascinating process. :)

    • Ariana Mullins September 23, 2012 at 9:46 am #

      The casings are pigs’ small intestines, thoroughly cleaned!

  4. Happy Homemaker UK September 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    You look adorable! I am grateful that I can just buy it already made :) I remember my mom had a grinder and we’d make a hole lot of pimento cheese.

    I’m hoping, hoping that you’ll be able to join us for Blogger’s Tea coming up :) I think it will be a fantastic group of women. Can you email me so I can send you info on how to register? HappyHomemakerUK@gmx.co.uk

    That’s some rain today, eh? Enjoy, XOL

  5. my honest answer September 24, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    I am loving this series! And I also love that it is helping you make friends and connections in your local town – the butcher and his wife sound so friendly, and I know that is something that you have missed. Please keep the lessons coming!

    • Ariana Mullins September 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      I’m so glad you are enjoying these posts! I am looking forward to more, and it really IS fun to get other people involved in a project like this. I would enjoy the lessons even if I wasn’t sharing them, but this makes it even more exciting. :)

  6. Hausfrau September 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Very cool–I’m impressed! I haven’t made sausage before.

    • Ariana Mullins September 27, 2012 at 9:36 am #

      I think I would make it often if I had the equipment– it’s too bad that’s hard to come by, because otherwise the process is fairly simple!

  7. Elie September 28, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Wow! Very cool. Never knew why there was gluten in sausage, but now I know. And it’s good to know that gluten free sausages might mean rice flour included instead.

    • Ariana Mullins September 30, 2012 at 9:32 am #

      Yeah, it seems that ALL sausages in the UK have gluten (and lots of other junk, usually) in them– kind of a bummer. Rice flour is pretty benign for people with food sensitivities, but I still miss bratwurst in Germany!

  8. Nikki Wall October 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    I’m impressed!

    You’re right, most sausages do have gluten in here, although there are gluten-free varieties and a couple of the places I order from do gluten-free.

  9. Joanna December 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Just found your blog from the Frugally Sustainable blog and wanted to say thank you for your posts on butchery. I now live in Latvia but originally from the UK (via Denmark and the US) and we live in a rural area where I may be given a whole lamb, or a whole goat and often wonder what is the best way to deal with it. I haven’t been given a whole pig yet, but a wild boar was shot on our land recently and we shared that with the hunter, but he cut the joints for us. At least now I feel I would have some idea what to do with it, if I was given a whole one.

  10. Heidi Guttesen February 3, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Very nice Ariana! I have enjoyed following your blog these past months. I just butchered my first pig this year and it was such a learning experience. Most of the meat we are curing/drying as different types of italian salami. I have Italian friends who are teaching me :) Both the fresh and dried sausages use finely ground paprika and chili, fennel seed, and orange peel. Super yummy! I can totally related to the awkwardness of sausage stuffing. I felt myself blushing several times through the process :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Tessa Zundel October 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    This was great! We shared with our FB readers at homesteadlady.com.

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  1. Lessons From My Butcher: Breaking Down a Pig | And Here We Are - December 3, 2013

    […] we took all of the smaller bits and made sausage!  I’ll share that part with you tomorrow. I hope that I have gotten all of the information […]

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