Recently I’ve become keenly interested in all things sausages. More the point, I’ve been reading about salumi, charcuterie, and forcemeats, and fantasizing about making my own sausages, fermented or otherwise. Sausage making can be an expensive hobby, with grinders, stuffers, and smoke houses costing a small fortune. Fortunately my lovely in-laws provided me with the building blocks for my budding hobby in the form of the grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for my KitchenAid mixer.
I’ve used the grinder tens of times in the last couple of months, but I hadn’t used the sausage stuffer before. I was a little apprehensive with dealing the whole stuffing process, but after watching a few how-to videos on YouTube, I felt inspired to give it a go.
I’ll spare you the gory details for now, but suffice it to say, cleaning hog intestines is pretty nasty work. I also had a lot of problems keeping the sausage mixture cold during the stuffing process (the KA grinder/stuffer combo sucks) and the texture of my sausage suffered for it. Regardless, I knocked out a pretty decent batch of Texas style hot links for our annual Oktoberfest party and had a good time doing it.
Texas style beef hot links (adapted from the Texas BBQ King)
1 cup ice cold water
3 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp paprika
4 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup red chili flakes
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground marjoram
1 tbsp ground savory
1 tbsp ground sage
7 lbs beef chuck (cut in to 1″ cubes)
1 lb beef fat (cut in to 1/4″ cubes)
Several feet of hog casings
Wash the casings thoroughly under cold running water. Be sure to flush the insides of the casings with lots of water or your sausages are going to be funky, in a bad way. Soak the casings in the fridge overnight, and when you’re ready to do the stuffing, rinse the casings one more time and place in a bowl of warm water.
Mix the meat, fat, and all spices together with your hands until everything is very well incorporated / distributed (at least 5 minutes) then place in the refrigerator to chill overnight. Grind the mixture through a course plate and place back in the ‘fridge until very cold.
Smear shortening or veg oil on the stuffer and slip on the casings on the horn. Drizzles the ice water over the meat mixture, mix gently, then stuff in to casings as quickly as possible. You want the meat to remain cold throughout the stuff process, so place the meat in the freezer whenever there’s a break in the action.
Twist the sausage every six inches to form links. Fresh sausages should be dried before cooking, or the fat will render out along with blood and other fluids during the cooking process. Hang the links in a cool dry place for an hour or two until links they are very dry.I wrapped a broom handle in aluminum foil and hung the links in the shower, but whatever works best for you.
Smoke the hot links at 200 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the smoker and shower the links with cold water until they hit 100 degrees internally. Serve with spicy mustard on a soft, chewy roll.
My smoker was tied up with a brisket, so I took the hot links over to my buddy’s house and finished them on his Treager, which was loaded with mesquite pellets. While I prefer my Weber Smokey Mountain to pellet-based smokers for most of the things I do, the Treager sure is a sweet machine. It’s ability to maintain a steady, constant temperature makes smoking things a breeze. Sure beats having to get up every 2 hours to check the temperature of my WSM in the pouring rain.
Good luck with your own sausage making adventures.