My husband, Stan, and his brother, Harry, made sausage… from scratch… in our kitchen. I like didn’t even know normal people could make sausage. Don’t you have to wear a butcher’s hat and a big, white, stained apron?
Apparently not. So, while on a plane, I cornered Stan, and had him answer these questions for me. In other words, I interviewed my husband… cause why not? So here it goes…
J: I feel like most people think sausage-making is something that happens in factories, not in your home. What gave you the idea to make your own sausage?
S: Well, you gave me the reins over our wedding registry. I figured I would never make sausages unless I had the tools to do it. Given we’d already been gifted the Kitchen-Aid Mixer (thanks, Mom and Dad!), I took advantage of the opportunity to add the grinder and stuffer add-on to our registry. Lucky for me, someone bought it for us before you could take it off!
J: Wow. All the things we could have bought with that money. But now that we have it, tell me the process. I was napping while this was going on.
S: Well the first thing I did was consult Kenji Lopez-Alt, you know, the author of Food Lab. Well I consulted his book anyways. After that, we stopped at the local butcher shop, chatted it up with Donna, and bought some sausage casings. My brother Harry and I both love a good culinary adventure and that was the flavor of the day.
J: Pun intended! Wait, what is sausage casing made of? And if you tell me, will I ever want to eat sausage again?
S: Pig intestines. You tell me.
J: Yikes. OK, so what happens after you buy pig intestines (did I really just casually write that?)?
S: A lot of hurry up and wait. First, we had to dice the meat into 1-inch cubes (ish), and then season and copiously salt the meat. How much? Dunno, we guessed. But I can tell you we should have let it sit longer for a little better texture. Anyways, seasonings were pretty basic: salt, pepper, oregano, fennel seed, and probably a number of others.
J: So how did you butcher brothers get the meat from slabs to ground?
S: With the Kitchen Aid, there are two grinders: a small one and large one. First, you grind the meat with the large grinder, then put it in the fridge, so the meat stays cold. One of the most important things you can do is make sure the meat is cold and the machine is grinding and not mushing up the meat (that’s what Kenji said). Then grind again with the small grinder and back to the fridge.
J: Then you stuff the intestines/casing? I think this is the part where I peeked into the kitchen and grabbed the camera.
S: Yes, it was! So before you can stuff the casing, you rinse it by running a bit of water inside. I’m not sure what else usually goes into preparing the casing, because this butcher had already prepped it. After that, you put the casing onto the Kitchen Aid stuffer, then stuff the meat into the top of the mixer, running it on low/medium, and try not to burst the casing — which seemed surprisingly hard to do! It’s a two-person operation.
J: Then tie the meat into the casing? Or do you twist it shut?
S: Leaving a little extra space on the ends of the casings, and assuming you haven’t stuffed the long sausage too tight, you just twist off links! Once that’s done, you’re ready for the grill.
Let me just say, the sausage tasted amazing, and we even had a dinner party where we were able to share it with our friends! Since this adventure, Stan has already made sausage again. This time it was a breakfast sausage. Once again, I wasn’t home for the occasion, but as long as the Kitchen Aid is cleaned and ready for my random baking adventures, I am sold on homemade sausage and looking forward to the next time Harry visits so the “Butcher Brothers” can create some new culinary dish I would have never thought to create at home.