Advice for getting better texture & definition in fresh sausage

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by chozume, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. chozume

    chozume Newbie

    I went to a gourmet sausage restaurant last night, and the chef had about 20 or 30 types of fresh sausage on the menu. I sampled half a dozen of them and they were all great, good levels of salt & seasonings, great combinations of meat. The one thing that stood out for me, though, was the texture he'd achieved in the sausages. Overall it was a very coarse texture, resulting in a very meaty and almost chewy mouthfeel, at the same time, very moist and juicy. They were fantastic. I've attached a few close-up pics.

    I've been making fresh sausage at home for over 5 years, but I don't think I've mastered getting a perfect texture like that - yet.

    I grind using a dedicated kitchen meat grinder, but it's a small home unit (#8 size) and the largest plate is about ⅜"?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="no"?  / 10mm. I've read about larger plates, like ½" and ¾", but these won't fit my grinder. Even when I grind my lean meat through the large ⅜" plate, I don't get the nice firm chewy texture and definition of the sausages I had last night.

    Sometimes I've also tried hand-chopping a percentage of the lean meat (about 50%), and this definitely results in more definition and texture, but the results are inconsistent. Is there a particular technique for hand-chopping meat?

    What's everyone's experience been with varying the texture of their fresh sausage?

    Assuming you don't have a ½" and ¾" grinder plate - is hand-chopping the only way?



    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
  2. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looks to me like it was just coarse chopped, not ground.
  3. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah it looks like chopped lean and maybe a small percent of fine ground to bind it all together? they all look a little different as to the amount of bind
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  4. chozume

    chozume Newbie

    What do you guys reckon is the best way to chop meat? Semi-frozen, or when it's at fridge temperature? Use a kitchen processor or blender?

    I tried a 2-handed technique with a pair of heavy Chinese cleavers once, the meat got chopped but the results were very uneven and it made quite a mess!

  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For a texture that has all those qualities, I partially grind about 1/2 the meat using a medium plate and the other half using a coarse plate.... only grind the meat once, then mix...  I always grind the fat through a fine plate to avoid large hunks...  Some recipes want large hunks of fat so a coarse plate is used...  Depends on the sausage and size of the casing...

    My Kitchener #12 has 3/16, 5/16, 3/8 plates...
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I hand chop for linguica. I do almost 90% of the meat that way then 10% course ground.

    The best method I have found to get consistent results is to partially freeze. Then slice into 1/4" slices. Which I then turn into 1/4" cubes.

    Then this all gets hand mixed with seasonings, and the ground meat. Into the stuffer and casings.

    If I had a slicer I'd use it to do the initial slices. But I don't. I have a nice slicing knife that works well. I have thought about making a jerky board but I haven't. I get close enough. Having the meat partially frozen is key. I put the slices on a frozen metal baking tray (parchment paper between meat and metal) when it's hot to help keep them cold for cubing. Sometimes I throw them back in the freezer to firm up. For cubing I switch knifes to a clever or chopping knife.
  7. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Good pointers in this thread. I will use them in the future.

    I did my first batch of sausage with my uncle back in September. Being novices, we ground course once, mixed in the seasonings, then ground again fine, then stuffed (all in the same machine, a very large grinder/stuffer from Gander Mountain).

    The flavor was awesome, but the grind was too fine for me, especially for sausage. It was like frankfurter meat. However my wife (who is not the biggest fan of my smoking endeavors) LOVED the sausage. So I guess I gotta do some course and some fine meat from now on! Thanks again for the tips.
  8. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As said above, all good info, but to touch on what Humdinger said, I was going to ask the OP, how are you stuffing?  If you're using the grinder with a stuffing attachment, you're going to lose some of your texture.
  9. donr

    donr Smoking Fanatic

    They do make 1/2" plates for #8 grinders.  Whether they are universal, I don't know.

    I don't know if you can grind meat using a stuffing plate that has the Kidney shaped holes in it, but that may be an option as well if you don't want to hand chop.

    There is an episode of Good Eats about hamburgers where Alton Brown chops his own beef in a food processor.

  10. chozume

    chozume Newbie

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
  11. chozume

    chozume Newbie

    I'm using a Tre Spade 10lb vertical stuffer. Solid bit of Italian machinery :)

  12. chozume

    chozume Newbie

    Nice. Good to know, thanks.

    I think my problem last time I hand-chopped partially frozen (lean veal, for bratwurst) might be I cut too small.

    Here's what it looked like:

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016

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