Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homemade sausage At Almost Heaven South

I’ve made sausage in the past by buying the ground meat from the local grocer, but I’ve really wanted to grind my own. I was reluctant to buy a pricey grinder for fear this would be a passing fad and I knew I could buy a grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I’d heard a lot of negative comments about them on the BBQ forums, then I saw Chris, at Nibble Me This, making sausage with one. So I gave him a call and he advised it worked well for small sausage making operations like I would be doing, so I bought one from Kitchen Aid.

I had a pork butt in the freezer with sausage written all over it and I decided to make two kinds – Italian and breakfast. For the Italian, I started with a recipe I’d picked up on a BBQ forum and I used Hi Mountain’s Country Maple Blend for the other. There are many good sites around for sausage making and Mister Meatball has a nice one on his blog and he uses the KA grinder.

I first deboned the butt, sliced it into 1” thick steaks then into 1” cubes. If I were making a full batch of one sausage, I would have mixed the spices with the pork cubes atg this point - before grinding. Since I was planning to make two different flavors and I wanted to insure even fat distribution, I ground it all through the large die, mixed well, and put it in the freezer for about 45 minutes. I removed the 2 ½ pounds needed for the Italian, mixed in the spices and stuck it back in the freezer for several more minutes. I then ran it thru the grinder using the small die and mixed in the liquids per the recipe.

I fried up a little patty to test and we decided it needed more fennel and maybe an herb, so I ground up ½ tsp of fennel seeds and ½ tsp of dried oregano, mixed it in, and fried up another test patty. We decided it may still need fennel (my fennel may be too old), but we decided to let the flavors marry overnight and try it in the morning .

For the breakfast sausage, I had a little over 5# of meat, so I calculated the amount of Hi Mountain spice mix required, mixed it in, and stuck it in the freezer for 30 minutes. I then reground it and fried up a test patty. It had just a nice maple flavor and pretty well nothing else, so we decided to turn half of it into more of a traditional breakfast sausage. I went to Len Poli’s sausage site, found a recipe for a Jimmy Dean clone and doctored mine by adding black pepper, sage, thyme, coriander, parsley, and red pepper flakes.

I was real pleased with the performance of the little grinder and while I wouldn’t want to be in the sausage business using it, my needs will be well served. At the end of the day, I ended up with 2 ½ lbs each of Italian, maple breakfast, and doctored maple breakfast. We had a plan for dinner, but after the sampling, we were full.

Since the meat must be kept very cold to grind properly, I was in a hurry and all of the other shots turned out blurry. I thought all of sausages were ok when tried the next day, but none were great and I believe the major culprit was spice freshness – I will use only new ones from now on. If you have a kitchen aid mixer and want to try making your own sausage, I would recommend the grinder attachment for about $60 and now I’m going to buy the little stuffer attachment( $14) and try my hand at link sausage, which is what Mister Meatball shows.

We had a real highlight yesterday, our first phone call from son, Rhett, who deployed to Afghanistan the first week in January.  He works with a group of soldiers training the Afghan police and so far said he's enjoying the job and the vast cultural differences - he's in a provence that borders Pakistan.  Modern communications amaze me - he's in nowhere Afghanistan and the clarity was like he was calling from across the street.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.



  1. Larry,
    How fabulous that you and Bev had a conversation with Rhett and to find out he's enjoying his job in such a frightening part of the world. It still boggles my mind that you can talk with someone half way around the world. Meakin & I continue to say to each other, "my grandmother would have never believed this." Wonder what our grandchildren will say about what we'll miss.

    I've always wanted to make my own sausage too. We have a KitchenAid, but didn't know much about the attachment. Thanks for testing it for us.

  2. Good Morning Big Dude,
    You had me at sausage!!!
    I used to make a lot of fresh venison sausages. Breakfast sausage and Italian sausage and bratwurst and so on. They all tasted pretty good until I put them in the freezer. They somehow lost all flavor in the course of only a few months. I haven't made them since then. I purchased a grinder from Gander Mountain that was .5 HP for about $175 and that little thing has ran through probably 25 deer in about 4 years time. I also used to use it for stuffing sausage until I got my stand up stuffer. I have yet to even purchase or sharpen the blade for that grinder. Works just like the day I bought it. Have fun!!

  3. Oh I'm so glad you got a call from your son! That must have just made your day!

    The sausage looks great. I might have to invest in one of those attachments myself!

  4. Okay as soon as I feel better, I'm dragging my grinder back out!

  5. Just a few nights ago I watched Rick Bayless making his own chorizo and thought to myself that I could do that! I have two of those old fashioned silver grinders in the basement. You know the ones...they clamp onto your kitchen counter. My mom used to grind her own meat all the time and I'm not sure for what...I'll have to ask her. I don't think I'd do the "casing" thing but would sure like to make some patties. How wonderful to hear from your son. I agree about communication technology these days...amazing. Years ago we were in a remote part of Alaska and tried to call home on an Iridium phone. I felt like were were calling home from the moon. :-)

  6. The sausage looks and sounds great. Not only can I call, but I can leave a note on your blog too. Thank God for technology. A year is a long time to be away from the people you care about.

  7. That's so great that you received a call from your son! Please know I am grateful for his service!
    I need to make my own sausage.. smoked sausage.... mmm!!! I just recently ground my own beef for hamburgers...don't know if I'll ever go back to already ground!!

  8. One of the most memorable times in my life was out at my friend's farm where I spent a few days. There was a WVU - Pitt game on the radio (we were so far out we could not receive TV). Well, we all sat around the big kitchen table (12 of us) and set up an assembly line for making deer sausage. My job was to wrap and date it. As we became more intoxicated with the radio descriptions of the game plays (and scores), I became more descriptive in the wrapping and explanations of the ingredients. Later, when I ran into these same friends the next spring they were so happy about how I had "done up" their sausage for their freezer. Everytime they took a pack out they remembered that night and what quarter (the score and how much time left)of that great game they were in! The one pack shaped and marked as a football was their favorite! In the dead of winter with no way to anywhere but where you are makes for freezer entertainment when you have well labeled items.

  9. What a great post, Larry. You share the creative process quite well and it sounds like something I could do.
    And how absolutely wonderful to hear from Rhett and to see his comment! Rhett, if you're reading this, Thank you for your service!


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