I am addicted to tools, and the kitchen is no exception. I recently received a gift card to a kitchen supply store, and when I came across a shiny red and polished stainless steel sausage stuffer I was hooked. It has cranks, gears, release valves, … all prominently displayed to snare unsuspecting mechanically minded passerby into becoming mesmerized by the contraption – and taking it home.
A tool is of course interesting in and of itself, but it’s always good to try it out. So I dutifully bought a pack of hog casings and 9 pounds of a mix of meats and set to work. The first issue was deciding what kind of sausage to make. Having never made sausage before, I went through the cookbook collection and found that at some point I had picked up a rather eclectic sausage cookbook, but on review of the recipes in it I decided I wanted to start off with something a bit more basic like Bratwurst or Cumberland sausage. I opted to make a half batch of each of those just in case I completely screwed up one or the other. I found several recipes online and consolidated them into something which matched what I had on hand but kept to the general style.
The next step was to grind the meat. I broke out the meat grinder attachment for my stand mixer and, to my great surprise, found it actually did a decent job. A bit slower than a dedicated grinder due to having a smaller diameter, but the limiting factor was my ability to feed it rather than the grinder itself. Once ground, I split the meat into two equal batches and seasoned and mixed them. I cooked a test sample of each batch to check for flavor prior to stuffing, and after a couple of iterations I was happy with the outcome.
With the sausage filling made it was time to turn to the casings. The ones I bought came dry and packed in salt; I took a guess about how many I would need and soaked then. While they were soaking I assembled the stuffer and clamped it to the kitchen table. Loading the stuffer hopper with the sausage meat was as simple as it sounds, but trying to get the casing on the nozzle for the first time was more challenging than I had assumed.
Once configured, I began turning the crank and stuffing sausages. I had read that this would be very difficult for one person, but I found it to not be overly difficult, just time consuming. Perhaps having the press clamped to the table helped, or maybe the design of this press and the consistency of the meat today made it easier to turn than was the case for those who claimed it to be difficult.
The most challenging part of the job was figuring out what to do with the sausage while it was being made, as I had conveniently forgotten to consider that in advance. A couple of cookie sheets ended up making a good and easily cleaned work surface on the table.
The hardest part of the job was cleaning up. Quite a few big items ended up being used, and both the grinder and the stuffer have small parts which need to be disassembled to clean.
All in all a good experiment, and a fun and useful tool.