How to make homemade sausages

By
Adrian Richardson
Added
06 June, 2014

Making home-made sausages is easier than you think. Chef and meat expert Adrian Richardson has everything you need to know.

Even though there are plenty of good-quality gourmet sausages around the place these days, I do think there’s nothing that quite beats making them yourself. You can get by without any special equipment, although there are a few items that make life easier. First, a mincer makes the whole job faster, is indispensable for finer-textured sausages, and does a good job of mixing together the lean and fatty meats. Second, a sausage-filling attachment for the mincer makes the somewhat fiddly job of filling the casings much easier. If you don’t have a mincer, then ask your butcher nicely to do the hard work for you.

It’s really not difficult to make your own sausages as long as you follow a few simple principles concerning the ratio of meat to fat to seasoning – and these are the same, whichever type of sausage you make.

Meat

Don’t think you can do what the big sausage manufacturers do and bung in any old bits and pieces. To make great sausages you need to start with good quality fresh meat. Keep your meat as cold as possible throughout the process. Start by trimming off as much of the sinew, gristle and tendons as you can, then dice the meat into small pieces or mince it. Texture is up to you, but personally I prefer a coarser texture, rather than too smooth a sausage.

Fat

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as a low-fat sausage. Fat content is vitally important because it helps carry the flavour of the meat and keeps the sausages juicy and moist. Fat is important for ‘mouth feel’ – the way something feels while you’re chewing it. You need to aim for 20–30 per cent fat which means either using a fatty cut of meat or adding it (usually in the form of finely chopped pork back fat).

Salt

This is a key flavour enhancer and an important preserver, so don’t skimp. Make sure you add 1.5 per cent of the total weight of the sausage mixture – i.e. 15 g per kilo of sausage mixture.

Flavour

This is your opportunity to be creative. Depending on the meat, you might like to add pepper, chilli, fennel, rosemary, cooked garlic, thyme – in fact anything you think would work! Just a word of caution, don’t add too many different ingredients: keep it simple!

Casings

The best sausage skins are made from natural casings, which means animal intestines. They come in various sizes and lengths, depending on exactly which section of the intestine they are from. In general, ask for lamb or pig casings for making regular sausages and ox-bung casings for larger sausages, such as cotechino or salami. You’ll need to order the casings from your butcher – they usually come packed in salt and need to be thoroughly soaked and rinsed before using.

Filling the casings

Attach a sausage-making attachment to the mincer. Carefully ease the entire length of a casing over the nozzle, leaving about 6 cm dangling. Fill the mouth of the mincer with a good wodge of sausage mixture, packing it in carefully to avoid any pockets of air. Turn the handle of the mincer until you see the mixture start to appear in the casing, and tie a knot to seal the end. Hold the casing in the palm of your left hand, and keep turning the handle of the mincer with your right hand. Try to maintain a steady rhythm, so that the casing fills evenly and smoothly. Add more sausage mixture to the mincer as needed, and when the casing is filled to within 6 cm of the end, carefully detach it from the mincer and tie a knot at the end to seal. Arrange the whole sausage out on your work surface and, if necessary, use your hands to roll it gently to distribute the filling evenly.

For anyone who doesn’t have a sausage-making attachment, here’s a handy tip: a builder’s caulking gun does the trick beautifully!

Forming links

To form links, twist the sausages a complete 360-degree turn, at even intervals. Twist each alternate link the opposite way, which will stop them unwinding again. If you like, you can tie them neatly with butcher’s string at each join. Transfer the sausage links to the refrigerator until ready to use.

Home-made sausages will keep up to four days in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer.

For more of Adrian Richardson's expert advice, check out his book Meat.

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