Last weekend I took Friday off and took the family to Rifle Falls State Park. On the way back we decided to stay the night in Glenwood Springs. For dinner we stopped at http://www.ribcity.com. I like BBQ, and I try to stop at a place that has good smoked food while on the road. A good rule of thumb is, if you can find the place using only your nose, the food will be good. Rib City as hard to find. As a matter of fact we almost could not find it all. I had a pork plate with a side of sausage. The pork was nothing to write home about (as expected) but the sausage, well that was something else. It was fantastic! I'd go as far as saying that it was the best I'd ever had.
So I got to thinking, I have a nice smoker, and over the years I have done beef brisket, ribs, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, I've even smoked hamburgers (which if you have not tried, you are missing out), but I have never tried to make home made smoked sausage from scratch. So I set out to see just how hard it is, and if it would be fit to eat.
We have a Kitchen Aid blender with some of the attachments. The smoker is ready, and so am I. I started looking online for a recipe, and most of what I found were kits that you mix with pork. If I am going to make sausage, I wanted to do it from scratch. So I found this recipe and thought I'd give it a try.
Smoked Sausage Recipe
5 lbs pork shoulder
3 tablespoons Kosher Salt
3 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon Pink Salt (Curing Salt)
2 teaspoons Fresh Minced Thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 feet or so of hog casings
I had a recipe and I was determined to give it a shot. A trip to Sam's (by my wife) produced a 12 lb pork shoulder (which is two 6 lb portions), after removing the bone, I'd guess it is close to 5 lbs for each portion. I had planned on cooking 5 lbs of sausage, then smoking the other half of the pork shoulder on Memorial Day, but we got an invite to a friends house for dinner on Friday the 22nd of May, and with work and all, I'm now short on time if I am going to get this done and have sausage for the party. So I decided to just make two 5 lb batches of sausage. Not enough time to smoke a pork shoulder and sausage too!
I put all of the spices into a 9x13 inch baking pan, mixed them up and piled them up in a ball. I covered the pan with foil and placed it into the refrigerator. I did the same to the second pan. but this time I added ground black pepper (about 1/2 a teaspoon). I think black pepper would be good, and figured what the heck.
Now this is the part of the recipe that I was not looking forward to. It calls for cubing the pork shoulder into 1/2 inch cubes. A hour and a half later, the pork is all cubed up and ready to be mixed into the spices. I mixed up all of the spices and the meat in each bowl, leaving me two 5 lb pans of cubed pork. At this point it is recommended that you let the spices set with the meat for 8 to 10 hours or overnight. So I placed them into the fridge, and went down to watch the finale of American Idol.
Can you believe that Adam did not win? You have to admit the whole KISS/Adam thing was cool! I can't believe they air a two hour show to tell you who the winner is (which takes all of 15 seconds)! Adam was the best this year and should have won! I think the show is rigged. Ok, back to the sausage.
In the morning I figured I'd get up and grind the meat, that way I could stuff the sausage right after work, this would give me time to go to Roberts baseball practice, and still get them smoked in the evening. Since I'm on a time crunch to get them done by the time I get home from work on Friday, as we are supposed to be arriving at my friend Ben's house soon after I leave from work on Friday. So Its time to grind the sausage. Let me tell you, it would have gone much better if I would have left the sausage in 1 inch cubes. The problem is that with such small pieces they get past the plunger and make the entire process take far more time then it should have. So if you attempt this with the Kitchen Aid grinder attachment, I would go with bigger cubes, say 3/4 inch to 1 inch cubes. Use the grinder plate with the large holes in it for this step.
To grind up all 10 lbs it took just less then 1 hour (I thought it would take longer). After the grinding process it is recommended that you let it sit for another 4 hours, so it's time to get ready for work. While I was getting ready, Peg took a little of the sausage and fried it up just to see if this whole experiment was just a waste of time. I grabbed the sausage, wrapped it up in foil and drove to work. When I got there I gave it a try, and let me tell you. It was fantastic! I was thinking that if it needed to be "doctored" I'd be able to do it when I get home before I put it into the casing. But there is nothing that I would do to it, it really was great.
When I got home I used the sausage attachment and stuffed the sausage into the casings. Having never done this before I figured it would be hard. It really was not too hard. I would say that having an extra set of hands makes this part much easier. Also if you can afford it, I would go and get a device that just stuffs sausage into the casings, as this took much longer then it should have. A press type device would have been ten times faster. Gander Mountain sells such a device for about $30. The casings I bought were natural, read the package, the one I bought does 25 lbs of meat. One package should be more then enough for most.
With the sausage stuffed into the casings they are now ready to smoke. After baseball practice I hung them from hooks in the smoker, Peg and Hunter made me some hooks out of wire shaped like a large S, that could hang from the top rack of the smoker), loaded it up with apple wood, and closed the door and waited as my mouth was watering. I then thought that this experience might com in handy if someone out there had an interest in doing this themselves. So I started writing this, in about 3 hours (midnight) these will be ready. The 10 lbs of sausage made 41 BRAT sized links. Just about 1/4 lb each. Below are some pictures of the entire process.