How To Make Sausage At Home (or Not!)

Breakfast sausage is one of those products that I’m never fully comfortable buying. Most of the ground sausages at the grocery store aren’t labeled gluten free, are not very specific in their labeling. There’s is always a niggling doubt that the sausage is not gluten free

I was perusing Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition) the other day and came across a recipe for making sausage with a food processor and decided to give it a try. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s review my reasons for trying this.

Why You Should Make Sausage At Home:

  1. If you make your sausage and start with fresh meat, then you KNOW it’s gluten free.
  2. If you make your sausage at home, then you control the ingredients. No msg. No caramel colors. No modified food starch. No unspecified natural flavorings.
  3. If you make your sausage at home, it’s much less expensive. One pounds of breakfast sausage often costs between $4 and $5 for one pound of sausage. The pork shoulder roast that I bought for this experiment was $1.69 per lb.

My Gluten Free Sausage Making Experience

Step 1 – Cube A Pork Shoulder: The meat from the sausage comes from a pork shoulder. The recipe calls for 2.5 lbs of meat,cut into 1″ cubes. The first step was to cut my roast and weigh out the appropriate amount.

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Here’s a picture of the cubed meat. I would suggest reducing the recipe to 1 lb. because it took a long time to cut up 2.5 lbs. of meat. And, given the results of this experiment, I’d like to experiment with a smaller amount of meat next time, in case it doesn’t turn out well.

Step 2 – “Grind” the Meat:
Once the meat is cubed, you use the food processor, fitted out with the metal blade, to “grind” the meat. The recipe contains a warning to not process the meat too much, as it will turn into a paste.

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I processed the meat as much as I dared, but the pieces of fat remained a bit too large for my liking and the meat did indeed become somewhat paste like. At this point my hopes for palatable breakfast sausage patties began to diminish.

Step 3 – Form Patties and Cook:
Despite my misgivings, we seasoned the meat, formed it into patties and cooked it.
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As you can see from the photo, the texture of the sausage was somewhat chunky. We had to be on the lookout for large bits of fat, which didn’t make for a pleasant eating experience. There were quite a few leftover sausage patties and we still had a huge chunk of raw “sausage” in the refrigerator. Oops.

How To Save Poorly Processed Sausage
I was not about to let all of that meat go to waste, but I also had no desire to make the rest of it into sausage. Instead, I put the raw “sausage” meat into the crockpot when I cooked the pork shoulder, and all of the large fat chunks melted away. I then used the cooked “sausage” in a White Bean and Sausage soup that was really very good and for which I hope I wrote down the recipe.

Questions to Research Before My Next Sausage Experiment
I went into this sausage experiment knowing that there was a decent chance that it would not work out perfectly. I’m pleased that I was ultimately able to use all of the meat, and I want to try this again after I’ve done some more research. Here are the questions that I’m left with:

  • Can you really make good sausage with a food processor?
  • Do I need to cut the fat into smaller pieces or process is separately from the meat?
  • How can I get the spices evenly mixed throughout the sausage?
  • If I make a large batch of sausage, what is the best way to store the raw sausage?
  • How is this procedure different from what people used to do to make sausage?

If you’d like to make sausage at home, but don’t want to deal with meat, you might like this gluten free Black Bean Sausage recipe that I created back during our vegetarian days. It’s a lot less scary!


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