Feeling adventurous? Want to learn how to make sausages from scratch? And not only that, want to learn how to make some fairly healthy-sausages? Then I have a little treat for you!
I recently spent a few days at Lake Austin Spa Resort (more coming on that soon) and while I was there, I attended a cooking demonstration where one of the resort’s talented chefs made sausages from scratch.
Lake Austin had kindly let me steal…ahem, borrow the recipe so I can share it with you. The recipe is for beef and pork sausages with dried apricots and pistachios. Obviously, if nuts mean you have to reach for an epi-pen, leave them out!
Whether it’s for your Thanksgiving meal, Christmas lunch, a treat at the weekend (why not?!) or you’re generally too suspicious of mass-manufactured sausages and their contents, here’s…
How to make sausages from scratch
Recipe: Beef and pork sausage with dried apricots and pistachios
1lb/450g beef tenderloin (diced)
1/2lb/225g pork belly (diced)
1/2 cup/65g dried apricots (chopped)
1/4 cup/32g chopped toasted pistachios
1/4 cup/32g fresh sage (chopped)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon all spice
2 fresh garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 foot/30cm natural pork casing (rinsed in lukewarm water) – see below for where to buy it
2 quarts/2 litres boiling water
2 Shiner Bock beers (or beef stock if the booze isn’t for you)
1 bay leaf
Salt as needed
Pro cooking tips:
Shiner Bock alternative: if you’re not from the USA and can’t get your hands on Shiner Bock, any amber beer or ale will do – but nothing too dark like Guinness.
Food Mixer (the chef used a Kitchen Aid food mixer but any good food mixer able to add a meat grinding attachment will do).
Sausage stuffer (this will connect to the meat grinder).
Pro cooking tip: you may not have the last two attachments, but they are fairly affordable to buy online and the meat grinding attachment is particularly useful – you can grind your own meat for chilli, burgers, meatballs…the list goes on. Best of all – you can better control the quality of ground meat that you and your family are eating.
Just make sure that you buy your grinder and sausage stuffer from the same brand or a brand that’s compatible with your food processor.
Step one: Grind the meat and add the dry ingredients
A few cubes at a time, place the meat cubes into the top of the grinder and start adding the dry items so that they are pulled through and combined with the meat as it grinds.
Just to be clear, the “dry ingredients” means the: sage, nutmeg, onion powder, chilli powder, all spice, garlic cloves, kosher salt, black pepper. Keep the pistachios and apricots aside for now.
Step 2: Put the meat through the grinder a second time
Once you have passed all of the meat and dry ingredients through the grinder once, put the minced mixture through the grinder a second time for a finer grind and to make sure all the spices and flavours are combined.
Step 3: Add the pistachios and apricots
Add the final dry ingredients – the pistachios and apricots to the ground meat mixture and combine well.
Step 3: Fit the sausage stuffer and get your casing ready
Next comes the fun part – making the sausages! It’s not as difficult as you might think, helped by the fact that the casing is a lot tougher than you’d imagine.
First, tie a knot on one end of the casing and then feed the other end onto the sausage attachment.
Step 4: Time to make sausages!
Once your casing is in place, slowly and steadily, feed the ground sausage meat into the top of the grinder attachment while keeping a guiding hand on the sausage casing. Push the meat down using the plastic stuffer that came with the sausage stuffer attachment.
The sausage meat will start to fill the casing. It make take a few minutes before you get a sausage that comes out in a consistent thickness and length without gaps in the sausage meat, so don’t worry if you’re first attempt isn’t likely to win any awards.
Step 5: Make a twist between each sausage until done
When your sausage is the right length, take a pause to twist the casing before starting on the next one sausage. When you’re done, tie-off the end of the casing so the meat stays put while cooking.
Pro cooking tip: if you get an air bubble at the end of the casing when you’re making your first sausage, you can either untie the end (ensuring there is enough casing so that you can tie it again later and that the sausage meat doesn’t come out). Alternatively, use a share knife to make a small slit in the casing to let the air out.
Step 6: Cook the sausages in beer
Instead of putting the sausages straight in the frying pan, we’re going to boil them in the beer, water and bay leaf stock. Not only does this add extra flavour, it makes for a healthier sausage.
Add the beer and bay leaf to the boiling water and bring the water back to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the sausages in the water for around 15 minutes, until the sausages are cooked throughout.
*Note: I don’t have a picture of this stage because I was overcome with the smell of the sausages cooking in the beer. So, I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait until you cook your own sausages to see this step…and when you do, would you mind sending me a picture so I can complete my set!
Pro cooking tip: prick the sausage casing before adding the sausages to the water – this will prevent air bubbles while cooking.
Step 7: Sear the sausages in a pan
To give the sausages a delicious grilled look, sear them on a grill or hotplate until they are browned on the outside. The super healthy among you will sear the sausages without oil.
If, like me, you like a bit more fat to your flavour, do the browning process by adding some olive oil to a pan and lightly frying the little suckers.
Step 8: Serve and enjoy!
Either way (with or without oil), serve your cooked sausages with a generous dollop of dijon mustard…or pile them on your Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch plate and enjoy!
With thanks to Chef Edgar Cuspinera for letting me steal…ahem, borrow his recipe.
At some point I’m hoping to go back and find out his secrets for curing bacon at home….I tasted this and shop bought bacon will now forever be a disappointment.
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Have you made sausages at home from scratch? Any other cooking tips to share? Or, if you’ve tried this recipe, how did it go? Let me know in the comments below.