The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council reported $3 billion being spent by Americans on sausage in 2013 which begs the question to be asked: are hot dogs now haute dogs?
America is asking tougher questions than that, such as where their meat is coming from and how foods are being processed. All of this translates into the rise of handmade hotdogs and sausages. Making sausages at home can appear to be a daunting task at first, what with equipment needed to blend, case, and bind the meat. Although this task is neither for the impatient nor faint of heart, the methodology is easier than you think, provided you outfit your kitchen with the right equipment and know what meats to use.
The Daily Meal turned to Ryan Farr's cookbook Sausage Making: The Definitive Guide with Recipes for words of wisdom on how you can get started. Though just about any meat or seafood can be used in sausage, some cuts and texture lend themselves to better sausages. Farr says “the most flavorful sausages have a lean-to-fat ratio of approximately 75 percent lean to 25 percent fat.” Making good sausage isn’t for the home cook who shies away from fat. As Farr says, it’s the fat that makes the sausage flavorful. It comes from cuts of meat such as well-marbled pork shoulder, beef neck, or beef shank. Really fatty meats, such as pork belly, can be used in combination with leaner cuts to optimize flavor. Farr takes the guesswork out for you though, as he classifies what meats and fats work best as stand-alone, and which ones need to be paired with others.
Before you begin, Farr advises that you invest in some tools. His must-haves include: a calculator (vital to calculating ingredients for a recipe), casings, a grinder (he recommends the Kitchen-Aid grinder attachment), a sausage pricker, sausage stuffer (which is compatible with Kitchen-Aid stand mixers), a kitchen scale, thermometer, and curing salt.
If you embark on the DIY sausage journey, we highly recommend this book as a guide. It provides insights into the dynamics between meat, fat, and liquids and will surely help you make the tastiest sausage. Once you get down the basics, you can really get creative with textures and flavor profiles!
To get you started, we’re sharing a recipe from Farr’s book. Click on this link (pun very much intended) for a recipe for Bacon, Cheese, and Beef Sausage.