Unlike the breakfast sausage we made earlier in the week, we wanted to have the Italian sausage in links. So in order to have links, one must procure casings for the ground sausage. I love the "snap" from a natural casing, so we went that route, but you could also use the collagen-based casings although I'm not sure if the prep for those casings are different. You'll have to do your own homework on that one.
During the week I went to the butcher shop in one of our little grocery stores in town to get the casings (be damned, NSO!!). The man behind the counter handed Paul a little package that looked pretty much like skinny and dry tapeworms. Sorry for the grotesque image, but that's exactly what it looked like. I rinsed them in cold water to remove the salt, put 'em in a bowl of clean, cold water then stuck it in the fridge overnight.
This morning was sausage-making day. I cut up the frozen fatback into small chunks and put it through the grinder:
|Chopping frozen fatback. Watch out for flying chunks!|
|You weren't thinking of putting that back into the sausage, were you?|
|The recipe is a keeper! On with the sausage stuffing.|
Four pounds of sausage yielded sixteen 6" long links and we used approximately 10' of casings with extra to spare for tying off.
The sausage texture ended up being a bit too fine. I "forgot" that the venison was already ground up when we started so we should have just ground the fatback alone then mixed the fat, spices and already-ground meat up without putting it through the grinder again. I think the finer textured sausage would have been perfect for smaller breakfast links, but the larger Italian sausages should have had a coarser texture. Not that that's going to prevent us from eating them.
Now all I have to do is find some fresh green peppers, make some Italian bread and we're set for supper!
Venison Italian Sausage*
3 pounds venison
1 pound pork fatback
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
2 1/2 tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. marjoram
*Every single venison sausage recipe I found called for fatty pork or pork shoulders or part ground pork and part fatback. Although we have a ton of pork products in the freezer, I didn't have any plain ground pork (it was already made into breakfast sausage) nor did I want to defrost pork chops in order to grind them up to use in a recipe. So I crossed my fingers and hoped that a 3:1 venison to plain fatback would be good enough.
*I also noticed that I forgot to add the obligatory 1/2 to 1 cup of ice water that is mentioned in every sausage recipe I've ever seen. But nothing bad has happened. Yet.