How to Make Homemade Italian Sausage
We made 50 pounds of sausage in two days, and I think it turned out fantastic! We will continue to experiment with sausage recipes in the near future, and we will continue to establish new traditions for our families.
Pork cycled through the LEM meat grinder
We used the following to make Homemade Italian Sausage:
- 7.5 pounds of pork butt roast
- 7.5 pounds of venison (if no venison, just use pork)
- 4 cups of reduced red wine (reduce to 1/2 cup)
- 1/2-cup heavy cream
- 16 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 8 Tablespoons fennel seeds (toasted, not crushed)
- 4 Tablespoons of ground black pepper
- 5-1/2 Tablespoons of oregano
- 5-1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoons ground all spice
- Crushed pepper flakes to taste
- Sugar to taste (if cooked sausage is bitter when taste-tested)
Other tools and ingredients needed:
- Casings – pig intestines from the butcher
- Meat trays (like large wash tubs but for meat – could have used 3 tubs)
- Frying pan and pot (reducing wine, toasting fennel, making test patties)
- Meat grinder (LEM #8 0.35 HP – really nice machine – see below)
This recipe is a two day process. Other recipes are one day affairs, but since we wanted to try this recipe, we planned to make these Homemade Italian Sausages on a weekend. We also made 50 pounds of sausage, so the pictures show a lot of meat and ingredients. To make that amount, we increased all ingredients proportionally.
Day 1: Preparing the Meat
- Start by reducing the red wine. We used some of my brother’s homemade Pinot Noir, and it took some time. Granted, we were reducing 8 cups of Pinot Noir for our batch, but if we did it again, we would start reducing the wine first.
- Cut the meat into smaller strips. This will allow you to put the meat into the meat grinder. PRO TIP: Once you have cut the meat into strips, refrigerate the meat to keep it cold before grinding it. Pork tends to get “sticky,” so keeping it cold helps later in the grinding process.
- Mince the garlic. I prefer to chop it up with a sharp knife because I don’t like garlic presses. We bought a new garlic press for this project, and true to form, the new garlic press cracked in half by the time I pressed 50 cloves of garlic.
- Toast the fennel by heating it in a hot pan on the stove. Constantly shake the pan for 30 to 60 seconds (or until the fennel starts to smoke slightly).
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Grind the meat in the meat grinder. We used a medium ring on the LEM, and it worked great!
- Add reduced wine, heavy cream, garlic and dry ingredients to the meat. Mix the ingredients into the meat by hand. It is a little messy, but you don’t need to send it back through the grinder (and not over-grind the meat).
- Let the meat and ingredients sit over night in a refrigerator. This will allow the pork to marinate and soak up the flavors.
Day 2: Stuffing the Sausages
- The next day, take the casings and rinse them out. This is a tricky business since the casing LOVE to get tangled and knotted together. You need to separate them out and hold them under a faucet. Like a water balloon, they will fill, and you can empty the water out the other end. I recommend separating them and keeping them in separate bowls. Untangling the casings just took a long time, so there has to be a better way to handle them. I am open to suggestions.
- Take the casing, tie one and feed it onto the horn of the meat grinder. Add the meat to the top of the grinder and push it through. The meat will squirt through the horn and into the casing.
- Once enough meat is in the casing (agreed upon firmness and length), pinch the sausage and twist the casing. Repeating this will create a string of great tasting sausage links!
- Sausage links can be smoked, but that is a different process and we did not smoke any of these.
Final Thoughts and Notes
Here are a couple of final thoughts and notes:
- Reduce the wine first. This step takes the most time, so get it out of the way first. It will help over the long haul and can be done in advance.
- The pork does get sticky when it warms up and takes some muscle to push through. We figured one more meat tub to keep the meat cold in the refrigerator would have helped.
- The casings need to be moist, or they will dry out and tear. Having a little bowl of water next to the horn and occasionally rubbing water on the casing helps.
- Breaks happen occasionally too; it’s just a matter of time. We treated it like a much-needed beer break (ahem). Just take the pork out of the ripped casing, tie off the links and tie the new end, and start it up again.
- Figuring out how to rinse the casings also took some time. I am open to suggestions for keeping the casings tangle free. Ideas, dear readers?
- When making homemade sausage, one person can do everything himself or herself, but my brother and I worked on this together. It makes this so much easier to work as a team. He pushed the pork through the grinder, and I handled the casings. Both jobs demand some attention. Besides, it is more fun to work as a team.
That is probably the biggest take-away from this: it can be a community/family affair, and it is a lot of fun to get together to make great tasting sausages! Give it a try: start a new tradition with your family like we did. Enjoy the process and have some fun with it!