Sausages are Fun
One wouldn't think that a simple homemade sausage or hot dog might be an embarkation on a linked journey like no other...that one would think wrong. During a recent stroll down sausage/hot dog lane, I discovered how consuming the tender cylinders really are.
The process, consisting of meticulous levels of measurement, is similar to tempering chocolate (a bit of Godiva with your dog?) After a lengthy butchering session of removing all tendons and silver skin from the meat, eliminating the skin from the fat back, and cutting both into small dice, you might have had your share of carnivorous activity for the evening...but wait, the fun has just begun.
The meat and fat are cured, seasoned, and chilled until almost frozen (a close approximation between 28F-30F). If you are lucky enough to have invested in a Kitchen Aid, you might have the meat grinder attachment-for which you are a fortunate soul. Otherwise, you'll be hand cranking the meat and fat while working on your Popeye arms. Once your workout is complete, depending on your sausage, you're either re-tempering your meat (by adding fat until the temperature reaches 40F) or re-grinding once more, through a finer blade. Once the concoction reaches 45F, you're safe to add non-fat dry milk, any additional seasonings or garnishes (such as dried fruit, nuts, or cheeses), and you're ready for encasing. Did I mention part II of the workout?
The casing devise (cleverly branded here) consists of a cylinder, which houses the ground meat, and a tube, onto which you'll be strapping on your animal intestine (or synthetic) casing. With a swift grind of the handle (which pushes a plate into the cylinder), your meat emerges from the opposite end, filling the casing similar to...a skin-tight glove (many metaphors came to mind while planning my explanation of the process, the aforementioned was my most non-controversial).
Once you've fully stuffed the casing with the meat ("That's what she said," Michael Scott), you must proceed to twist the links to a desired size, making individual, fare-skinned, 4-6 inchers (the entire process lends to a high school teenager’s humor heaven).
You can now breathe a sigh of relief, as you’ve almost reached the fruitful reward you’ve been yearning for. Once you’ve made a taste test (by blanching a pinch of the mix and adjusting the seasoning), you’re ready to boil the sausages to an internal temperature of 145F-165F, depending on the contents. Now simply grill, broil, pan fry, bake, or smoke your labor and invite some friends over for a sausage festival. Indulge…you deserve it!