January 15, 2013
Sausages are so diverse. You can just about take any meat and make a sausage out of it. A lot of the time, butchers like to do a combination of meats to make a great sausage. They are pretty darn good at it too. There is some incredible stuff out there. As first time sausage makers, we decided to keep it simple and just stick to one meat, pork. Of course, we have ground meat before. Thanks to Zach’s mom and her gift of a glorious professional Kitchenaid for Zach’s birthday last year (with many cool attachments included), this has made the grinding process a whole lot easier than using a food processor (which can be done folks – don’t worry). And thanks to my parents for the fun coupon to Williams-Sonoma, we now have a sausage stuffer attachment. We had all the materials we needed, so why not? I’m not sure why it took us so long to get to this point, but we were finally ready to stuff some sausage! Sausage Sandwiches with Pulled Pork and Mozzarella was our first attempt!
I did mention this in the actual recipe, but if stuffing sausages isn’t in the cards for you, don’t fret. You can get the same great flavor out of leaving it out of the casing and just baking it. Just bake the sausage in a covered 9x13in baking dish at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. You of course won’t get a great sandwich out of it, but you will get some great sausage for pasta! I find it also important to make sure you have the right equipment before you even begin. Grinding meat can be done in a variety of ways. If you have a food processor you are one step closer, and I’m sure most of you have one of these. Also, stuffing sausage is no easy task. We learned this the hard way last night…
It takes technique and a ton of patience. I have lacked both of these traits in the past, and last night was no different. Thank God Zach has a bit more patience than I do! I really really wanted cubes of cheddar cheese in our links. Key word is “I.” Zach was indifferent. Case in point, we should have skipped the cheddar cheese. As we were stuffing the sausages, the cubes of cheese kept clogging the exit of the stuffer. In hindsight, I guess I should have cut the cubes just a tad bit smaller. Please note that I did leave the cheddar cheese in the recipe. I did however mention to cut them into 1/8 in pieces. I cut mine bigger than that unfortunately. Even though it was a big pain in the butt, it was worth the pain…so delicious.=) If you want to be annoyed and frustrated, then go for the cheddar!
* Please Note * This recipe takes a day or two. We find it very important that after you grind the meat and mix everything together, that you let the flavors meld together. This takes longer than just an hour or two. You really need to let it go for at least 10 hours or you’re just not going to get the same flavor. This is why there is so much “prep time” in the recipe. There is a ton of inactive time. Also, the pulled pork takes longer. Pulled pork needs some time. You want the meat tender and not tough, so when I say it will take quite a few hours to “cook,” it’s not like you’re actually doing the cooking. It’s just sitting in a slow cooker =). Don’t let the times scare you!
I have to say, that for our first sausage attempt, we were pretty darn successful at it. It took some trial and error, but we got it done. These sausages are so delicious. We froze most of them, but made them for dinner last night. We couldn’t have been more pleased. They’re packed full of flavor and topped with some delicious ingredients. I would like to offer an attempt at a substitution however. I really wanted to use cheese curds on top of the sausage. Who knew that cheese curds would be so hard to find!? They go so well with BBQ and are so creamy and soft that they just melt in your mouth. If you can get your hands on them; first: well, I’m completely jealous, and second: substitute them for the mozzarella. The mozzarella did the trick, but cheese curds would be so much better.
I guess what everyone is asking at this point: what do we pair these sausages with? Well there are plenty of options. Sausage and beer should just get married since they go so well together. We went with an amber ale. We used a local brewery with Crystal Springs and their South Ridge Amber Ale. If you live in the Boulder, CO area, you will be able to get this brew. They are pretty small at the moment, so getting it out of the area may be difficult. The rich, caramel flavors of this beer compliment the sausages so well. Sweet and subtle: the perfect match. Any great amber ale will do though. Use your imagination and explore the local bottle shop. You can find some pretty incredible brews. Besides South Ridge, you could go with Green Flash’s Hop Head Red or Bells Debs Red Ale. Either one will be a great substitution!
Well we hope we haven’t scared you away from trying to make sausages. Although not the easiest thing in the world to make, it’s really not that bad! And if you’re that nervous about it, start with a sausage without the casing. It will get you one step further, and you will still get the same great flavor.
- 4 lbs boneless pork shoulder (or 4½ – 5 lbs bone in), cubed into ½ inch pieces
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons fennel seed
- 1½ tablespoon celery seed
- ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, cubed into ⅛ inch pieces (optional)
- sausage casings (pork or collagen)
- 1-2 lbs pork tenderloin
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 can (or bottle) cola
- 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce (we used Horsetooth’s Hot Mess)
- sausage rolls
- shredded mozzarella
- The very first thing you want to do is grind your pork shoulder. You can do this any way you want. We used the Kitchenaid grinder attachment. Once your meat has been ground up, add the garlic, parsley, pepper, salt, crushed red pepper, fennel seed and celery seed. With your hands (yes with your hands), mix the mixture until all is combined. If not already in a bowl, add the mixture to a bowl and seal with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 10-12 hours to allow the flavors to meld (overnight would be best).
- Now you will start on the pulled pork. This part can also be done in advance. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Wash your pork tenderloin, then pat dry with a paper towel. Rub the tenderloin with your mixture on both sides. In your slow cooker, set to high (for 4ish hours) or low (for 8ish hours), add the pork tenderloin. Pour the cola into the slow cooker. Cover and cook for the time you picked according to your slow cooker. You’ll know the pork is done when the meat shreds easily. At this point, add the BBQ sauce and stir to combine. Let cook for 15 minutes more on the highest setting so that the BBQ warms up. At this point, you can serve with your prepared sausage, or store in the refrigerator for up 2-3 days.
- Now back to the sausage. We went ahead and cased our sausage (If you wish to not case, you can skip this part and just bake the sausage in a covered 9x13in baking dish at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes). If you are casing, remove the sausage from the fridge and uncover. Add the cubed cheddar to the mixture and mix (again with your hands) until evenly distributed. We used the Kitchenaid attachment for the sausage stuffing, but if you have another method, go for it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on any device you choose to use.
- When your sausages have been stuffed, tied and separated, it’s time to cook them. In a heavy bottomed saute pan, add water about an ⅛ of an inch up the side of the pan. Heat at medium-high and add 2-3 sausages, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cover the pan and let cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid, allowing the water to evaporate. This may happen very quickly, so watch carefully. Continuously rotate the sausages until they have browned on all sides. If you find they are sticking to the bottom of the pan (AFTER the water has evaporated) you can add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Be careful though, and make sure your water has indeed evaporated. Once your meat thermometer reads a temperature of at least 152, you know your sausages are done.
- Serve in a toasted roll. Top with pickles, pulled pork and mozzarella and maybe some extra BBQ if you desire.
- These sausages with keep for about 3-4 months in a freezer. Wrap in aluminum foil and store in freezer bags.