Friday, October 26, 2012

Meat Week - Italian Sausage

Yup.  Another installation of Meat Week and another sausage tutorial.

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?
After the fatback went through the grinder, I put the previously ground (but not seasoned) venison through the grinder again with the fatback:
We then used the bowl on the Kitchen Aid to mix the sausage, fatback and spices up.  Don't know why I didn't think of using the mixer when we made breakfast sausage.  Duh.
Since this recipe is a hodge-podge of what I found online, it was time to taste-test the Italian sausage:
The recipe is a keeper!  On with the sausage stuffing.
Now that we had our bulk Italian Sausage ready for stuffing, the grinder attachment was taken off and the sausage stuffer parts put on the Kitchen Aid. Paul then took the casings out of the water, rinsed them off in the sink and cut off a length about ten feet long.
You lube up the sausage tube with a little bit of lard, then slide the casings over it and scrunch it up at the end, kind'a like you're putting pantie hose on the tube (Or a male prophylactic.  Come on, I can't be the only one thinking that).
Once the length of casing is on the tube, tie a knot in the end of it (easier said than done) and pull it tight against the end of the tube.  Then poke a tiny hole in the end to let air out.  At this point the picture-taking is paused because as Paul is cramming the bulk sausage through the stuffer, I'm catching the sausage-filled cases, pinching them off at about 6" in length and twisting the sausage around as to make a new sausage in the line.

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.


  1. If the zombies take over, I am heading to your house.

  2. Okay, I was thinking male prophylactic, too...

    I am finding Meat Week very interesting! We haven't been very self-sufficient with things meat-related, but you are inspiring me to branch out!

  3. Okay, now that you've made the sausage, we're coming over.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe, I may need to borrow it.

  4. Very yummy looking and industrious of you.

    I don't know if anyone has said anything - it's been a while since I have been around and maybe it's because I am an "old" lady at 46 [I kid] but your blog is almost impossible to read with the new background. It's gorgeous, no doubt, but is it possible to remove it from behind the blog posts?

    Enjoy your sausages.

  5. I will have to show the tutorials to hubby, he has been wanting to do this for a long time and since I gave him the all clear to hunt wild hog I have a feeling we will have to know a lot about this process. Nice job, looks yummy!

  6. Susan, if the zombies DO come along, will you help me kill 'em, cook 'em & eat 'em???

    Miriam, glad your interested in the meat week! I figured I'd scare some veggie-lovers off. And thanks for admitting about the sausage-condom.

    Sandy, the sausage spices tasted good, although the consistency of the meat is too fine.

    Skippy, I'll try to see if I can fix that....but no guarantees!

    Erin, Glad your DH is going hog hunting. I would personally prefer pork sausages to vension sausage, but we killed it so we're gonn'a eat it!

  7. I missed this one! The sausage looks very professional.

    I had one of the hams ground into 'hamburger' and every now and then I thaw one and add a few of my saved fennel seeds to other seasonings made a quick DIY Italian sausage for meat sauce. Are you growing fennel? Once you get it going you will have it forever. It self seeds like crazy.