Making sausage is not a very complicated. Some instructions, a grinder, a stuffer and you're off. I been using the Kitchen- Aid grinder attachment for the stand mixer. It's a good deal if you already have the mixer. I also have the stuffing tubes. I like the grinder fine, perfect for anyone making 5 pounds or less (and that's a lot of sausage). However the stuffer attachment leaves something to be desired. It works by pushing the mixture into the casing with the auger. Not only do I not like the idea of the mixture being smeared around by the screw, but it is not very efficient. It feels like walking up a sand dune or trying to jog in mud. Additionally, the stuffer attachment is really no good for an emulsified sausage like hot dogs, the mousse-like texture simply smears everywhere. So I started looking at stuffers. I immediately passed over the elbow shaped stuffers as a poor design, a mess in the making. The next step up is the canister stuffers, the right design, but yeow-geeze the price, for a five pound capacity you're looking at two hundred bucks. That's too much. Then one day I found a stuffer on an industrial tool website. Northern Tool and Equipment has a sausage stuffer for $79. I was smitten, but why so cheap? Before I could track one down for a close quality inspection, Santa put one under the tree. I have used it twice and my initial impression is I don't know what a $200 stuffer could do better. I need to bolt it to something (there are bolt holes in the base) and I may upgrade the plastic stuffing tubes to stainless. The tubes have a rough finish and it is kinda (not too bad but) hard to slide on the casings.
It is pretty simple: A crank arm gears to a threaded rod that has a plunger on the end. The plunger has an air release valve and rubber o-ring to seal against the canister. The whole thing comes apart for easy loading and clean up. For operation, I chilled the canister in the freezer, then I used a little lard (called vacuum grease in the industry) around the o-ring and on the stuffing tube. H did the cranking (so easy a four year old could do it), he thought it was kinda like playing with play dough (pause here for deeper philosophical thought).
The first sausage we made in the new stuffer was Friulian Sausage recipe created by my Man in the Oranges, Brian. He said he wanted to recreate the sausage he once bought made by Mario Batali. What he came up with is very very good. It comes across very subtle but well rounded and is equally at home served with pasta or served with a smear of mustard. But first what is Friulian? Friuli is part of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, an region in northeastern Italy. By the way, if you are just metacrawling through, here's Batali's recipe for Friulian Sausage, I'll wait while you look...
Okay you back? I think Batali's recipe is ok, pretty simple, it has your quatre-epices, and some garlic but I don't know about using lard, that seems like a bad substitute, just get some pork fat. AND like I mentioned earlier, 5 pounds is more than enough sausage for making at home, Batali has you working with 6 pounds including the fat. If you want to try this recipe (I'm not) just make half of it. But I digress...
You should make all of Brian's recipe. We ate a little less than half of it New Years Eve, had some for a dinner party last Sunday, and a couple links left over for lunch this week. This stuff really freezes well. He departs from the usual Italian sausage with ingredients like whole mustard seed and juniper berries. Here's his recipe that I made with 4-1/4 lbs. of pork (see notes):
4-1/4 Lbs. Pork shoulder
32 g Salt
8g ground pepper
7g whole black mustard seed
7g whole coriander, toasted then slightly crushed
16 Juniper Berries, crushed
200ml red wine chilled
Dice pork shoulder and mix in all ingredients except wine, refrigerate mixture for an hour up to overnight.. Grind mixture through small plate into bowl sent in ice, add chilled wine and mix medium speed with paddle attachment to get a smooth consistency (about one minute). Stuff into hog casings. If you have time let them air dry in the refrigerator for a few hours. Cook and enjoy.
Notes: Brian's recipe calls for white wine, but I didn't have any. I also (with a nod to my wife) put in a little sugar. I used pork belly that I had trimmed from another project. To adjust the ingredients to the weight of meat that you got, find the ratio. Take the wt of the meat that you have and divide that by the wt in the recipe. Take that number (the ratio) and multiply it to each of the ingredient amounts. Hey Presto.
While I'm on the subject of conversions, I found a great posting for converting weights and volumes in cooking. The blog is called Chocolate and Zucchini.
I gotta go cook.