Don’t fear the wurst

Posted by Anita on 07.25.07 9:21 PM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedOtto von Bismarck reportedly quipped that “The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep at night.” Although the ol’ Prussian was undoubtedly right about legislation, when it comes to wurst, I’d beg to differ. Not only is sausage-making entertaining and educational, it’s also much easier than you might think.

It can even be fun, especially if you divvy up the work among a crew of like-minded friends. One recent Sunday, we rounded up Sean and DPaul plus our new pals Jon and Karen, classmates from Kasma’s Thai cooking series. Everyone brought a dish to share and a five-pound pork shoulder; Cameron and I provided the recipes, the seasonings, the casings, and other miscellaneous bits. In a matter of hours, the six of us created a spectacular assortment of sausages to stock our freezers.

Between us, we amassed four KitchenAid mixers, three meat grinder attachments, two pairs of sausage-stuffing tubes, and one very porky kitchen. All told, we ended up cranking out more than 25 pounds of sausage. We stuffed a French-style garlic saucisse – courtesy of Michael Ruhlman’s acclaimed Charcuterie — into stout links, curled Kasma’s recipe for spicy sai oa into a hog-casing spiral, squeezed delectable Kentucky-style breakfast sausage into petite sheep casings (plus a few patties), and parceled out our spicy Mexican chorizo in bulk. Even after a hearty sampling, everyone went home with a bit more than a pound of each flavor, with no more effort than making a single batch on their own.

Although we had a blast with the grind-and-stuff method, don’t let a lack of specialized equipment hold you back from making great sausage. Most good butchers will grind any roast to order. Choose a nice, fatty pork shoulder — also known as a Boston butt or simply pork butt, even though it comes from nowhere near the hind end of the pig — and ask for a coarse grind. Mix the ground pork with your seasonings, shape into patties, and voilá: You’ve just made sausage.

Folks were pretty evenly divided about which of our creations they loved best. For me, the winner of the day was the Kentucky breakfast sausage. There’s no stronger compliment that I can pay it than it just tasted right… something like your Southern grandmaw would have made, if you’d been so blessed.

Go on, don’t be shy: Be your own Southern grandmaw. It’s much easier than getting a bill through Congress, I promise.

(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved

Kentucky Breakfast Sausage
- adapted from Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book

4 pounds well-marbled pork shoulder, cubed
1-2 pounds pork back fat, cubed
quantity varies depending on the fattiness of the meat
2 T kosher salt
4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup ground, dry sage
2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup water
sheep casings (optional)

Cut the pork and fatback into cubes. Place in a metal bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill well, along with the grinder parts. When thoroughly chilled, grind the pork and 1 pound of fatback through the coarse plate of the grinder.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients (except casings), kneading and squeezing until well blended. Fry a test patty and taste for seasonings and fat content; adjust as needed.

For links, stuff the sausage into casings and tie or twist at three-finger-width intervals. If making patties, shape the meat into large rolls, 2 inches in diameter. Wrap them in waxed paper, and refrigerate until ready to use; slice into patties as needed.

(Sausage keeps refrigerated for 3 days, or frozen for 2 to 3 months.)

cookbooks, cooking, equipment, meat, recipes



Comment by brilynn

I’ve made my own sausage a few times, yours looks much more well proportioned than mine turned out! It was delicious nonetheless.

Posted on 07.26.07 at 10:41AM

Comment by Sean

Sweet lord Jesus the sausages are good — ALL of them. We enjoyed the Thai sausage the other day, then used the leftover bits in some sloppy but delicious Thai-Japanese fusion hand rolls. And the breakfast sausage is pure Kentucky deliciousness — so sayeth the Kentuckian DPaul himself. The rest is still in the freezer, waiting for a sausage craving to hit. Soon enough, my little pretties.

Posted on 07.26.07 at 10:49AM

Comment by Jennifer Jeffrey

Wow… you really outdid yourselves! The sausages look gorgeous (and you have a beautiful kitchen). Love the photos. Great job!

Posted on 07.26.07 at 11:50AM

Comment by Lauren

I’ve been looking for a good breakfast sausage recipe. Just looking at yours tells me it’s a winner. I’m making that next time for sure!

Posted on 07.26.07 at 11:56AM

Comment by cookiecrumb

{{jaw drops}}

Posted on 07.26.07 at 2:11PM

Comment by erik_flannestad

Home made sausage and a wine tasting!

Wow, you guys sure know how to do it up!

Posted on 07.29.07 at 3:10PM

Comment by Doug Cress

25 lbs worth! You guys don’t fool around!!

Posted on 08.01.07 at 3:01PM

Comment by Anita

Brilynn: Sausage doesn’t have to be pretty, does it?

Sean: So glad you love ‘em. We’ll definitely be doing this again.

Jennifer: Thanks! There are more kitchen pix in the Kitchen category, if you’re interested.

Lauren: I’m flattered. It’s from the Bruce Aidells cookbook, which — despite lacking the pedigree and gorgeousness of Ruhlman’s — is quite the little treasure trove.

Cookie: Have you tried the sample yet?

Erik: We’ll make sure you get an invite to the next one. The wine tasting was a blast — I’m sure Sean will write it up soon.

Doug: Well, the 25 pounds was split among 4 households, so it’s not -that- much :D

Posted on 08.01.07 at 3:08PM

Comment by sam

It was one of my new years resolutions to make sausage and I still haven’t gotten round to it yet. I want to make Heston Blummenthall’s. I have had the grinder and sausage attachment for well over a year sitting unused so i have absolutely no excuse not to follow your example.

As soon as I can lift myself out of my rut, I am hope to give it a try.

Or maybe I will make a certain kind of English meatball instead. We’ll see.

thanks for the inspiration!

Posted on 08.06.07 at 4:41PM

Comment by Louise

Those sausages look great, I’m so envious.

I did not get into Kasma’s class after all, did you?

Posted on 08.08.07 at 12:10PM

Comment by Anita

Sam, you crack me up. I haven’t seen HB’s recipe, but I bet it’s a winner.

Thanks, Louise! I’ve been through Kasma’s basic and intermediate classes, and now two of the advanced classes. I’m waiting until next year to take Advanced “C” when it comes up again.

Posted on 08.08.07 at 12:20PM

Comment by valereee

Anita, thanks for the link! I am definitely planning to try some sausagemaking this year, so maybe I’ll turn it into a party!


Posted on 01.01.08 at 10:19AM

Comment by Denise

We have been talking about doing this! Where did you get the casings?


Posted on 02.29.08 at 4:19PM

Comment by Anita

Hi, Denise –

We got the hog casings at the butcher shop in the Housewives Market in Oakland Chinatown; any supermarket or butcher shop that makes their own sausage will likely sell you a small amount.

We couldn’t find sheep casings locally, so we bought them from an online catalog… I think it was either or

Posted on 03.02.08 at 1:46PM

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