Air Dried Country Pork Sausage with Q-View

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by hdflame, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. hdflame

    hdflame Meat Mopper

    I started out with 2 big Boston Butts that I got on sale a few weeks ago.  I had to wait on some cold weather before I could get started.

    Here in NC, we don't have too many cold days in a row that's cold enough to air dry sausage the old fashioned way by just hanging without anything but ambient temps.

    I have made sausage like this for several years now and learned this technique from someone that had been making it for MANY years and also sold it.  I used to buy air dried sausage from him until he passed a couple of years ago.  Before he died, he shared his method with me.

    A word of caution.  I know a lot of people would not feel comfortable making this without using nitrites or nitrates, so try this at your own risk.  That being said, I'm still living and I haven't made any of my family sick either!

    I have a meat grinder from Northern Tool. It works good, but I cut my meat into about 1" square pieces and also have it as cold as possible to make it grind easier, especially the fat.

    I started out with just a little over 15 lbs. of butts and a little over 12 lbs. of fat.

    I laid my large butcher knife across the bowl so you could get an idea of how BIG this bowl is.  It's a 3 gal. bowl, so there's a lot of meat in there and this isn't all of it.

    12.26 lbs. of fat added to the butts.

    The fat is still partially frozen to make it grind easier.

    I slice it off and cut it up and mix it in with the meat.  Each layer, I add sausage seasoning, pepper flakes, and extra sage.  I like a lot of sage!

    I've found that it's easier to mix my seasoning in with the meat before grinding.  It helps me eyeball how much seasoning I'm using and it mixes much easier with the grinder rather than trying to mix it in by hand after it's ground.  I don't measure anything, I just add by looking at it and after I grind it up I'll fry a patty to taste test.  It was perfect the first time!

    This is the seasoning I use.  This pack says it will season 25 lbs. of meat....I use a little more plus I add extra red pepper flakes and lots of sage.

    After first grind with medium blade.

    Second grind with fine blade.

    Test patty in the iron skillet.

    Mmmmmm!  Perfect and ready to be stuffed.

    This is my 15 lb. Kitchener Stuffer from Northern Tool.  All steel gears works great.  I think they've changed to plastic gears on this model now.  :(

    First batch loaded.

    About 30 lbs. ready to hang!  I just watched the weather and we have temps only in the 40's through next Tuesday....7 days cold weather in a row.  We don't get too many of those here in the Piedmont area of NC.

    I'll post some pics after it's finished.
    scooterjam likes this.
  2. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Looks like a great project, I guess I would add some cure to it for safety as it won't affect your products taste or consistency. Please show us the finished sausage when it's done drying.
  3. Looks good so far. How long are you going to hang it? And OUCH! 1.59 for fat.

    Happy smoken.

  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Interesting project. I'll stick around to see how this turns out.

  5. reinhard

    reinhard Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the step by step!!  So, after the hanging time is it then ready to eat or do you still have to cook it?   I'm glad everything works out for you without a cure, but I guess for me I would use it.  This is a interesting method and I'll check in when you post the results.   Always good to see other methods in sausage making.  Reinhard
  6. hdflame

    hdflame Meat Mopper

    The deer hunters have killed us around here.  They check by every day during season to get the fat before it's even wrapped.  I remember when they used to GIVE you the fat, beef fat too!  We only have one grocery store around here now that even butchers their own meat.  Everybody has started selling the pre-packaged meat that's shipped in from who knows where! 

    I got to thinking the other day....It's a lot cheaper for me to just buy a whole hog and butcher it myself.  That way I can break it down and maybe cure a ham, have a shoulder to make pulled BBQ, scraps for sausage, pork chops, etc. etc.  I think the last whole hog I bought was $189 lb.
    I'll hang it anywhere from about 5 to 7 days.  It still has to be cooked when you're through.  I'll divide it up into portions and vacuum seal and freeze it.  It's kind of like dry aging a good steak, definitely a different flavor, very rich and good.  
    And yes, adding pink salt does change the flavor and texture.  There's a big difference from this and the dried sausage you can buy in the stores around here.  I wouldn't recommend that anyone do something they're not comfortable with, I just wanted to share this method to let people know you can still safely make things the ole timey way. 

    This is an old school country way of drying sausage that's done around here by the old timers.  It's becoming a lost art because most of us learn from books these days instead of having it passed down to us.  Nobody is going to put anything in a book that isn't FDA approved process because of liability! lol  That’s why I added the little disclaimer at the beginning.  Now days a lot of people are scared of some of the old school methods.  The man I learned this from not only made it for his family, he made it to sell and you had to place your order in December in order to get it sometime in January.

    Country people didn’t have pink salt a 100 years ago but they were still salting down pork hams, bacon, and sausage and feeding their families with no ill affects.  The big thing is you have to have cold weather.  That's why hog killings were in cold weather.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    If the man that taught you was selling that sausage he was likely drying it in his Walk-in Refer so a temp below 38°F could be constantly maintained with a sufficient air flow to dry it and he was very likely using the mix at Full Strength so the Salt proportions were sufficient to inhibit bacterial growth without Nitrate/Nitrite. Thank you for posting the Warning. I have to reiterate, the staff at SMF only recommend the use of Nitrate/Nitrite Cure for Dry Sausage production. That being said if there is any point at which the temp goes over 38-40°F, like during daylight hours I would encourage you to put it in the refer until the temp drops. In the future wash the pork well to reduce as much surface bacteria as possible. The only risk here with no Nitrite is Clostridium Botulinum, specifically the Spores that if on the meat can reanimate in the interior of the sausage where there is no oxygen. Keep it cold and you should have no issues...JJ

    OK...Now that you posted that the sausage gets cooked that explains why there is very little risk. Even if something causes the CB Spore to make toxin, the cooking destroys the toxin making it safe. There are a few common bacteria that make heat stable toxins but they are easily controlled with good handling practices and sufficient salt. I will leave the above info just for general reference regarding Dry Curing Sausage. Still keep things at <40 but there is much less to worry about...[​IMG]  
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  8. hdflame

    hdflame Meat Mopper

    Thanks Chef JimmyJ  for reiterating what I said earlier.  I knew there would be people that would question the safety of this procedure and that's why I said I didn't recommend anyone doing anything they're not comfortable with.

    For clarification on this, the man that I bought my sausage from had a building that he hung the sausage in but it had no refrigeration to control the temps (Neither does mine.).  That's why he only made it in Jan-Feb.  One of the questions I asked him was what if the temp got up into the 50's during the cure.  He said that so long as you initially had a couple of cold days, you would have removed enough moisture in the sausage that a brief temp spike wouldn't cause any safety problems because of the salt content.

    One thing to keep in mind is that when you hang meat in a building, the temps remain more constant inside in the shade than if exposed to sunlight and outside temps that aren't as stable as the inside temps.  Even though you may get temps in the 50's during the day, it is only for a short time in the afternoon and it won't effect the building inside temps enough to bother the cure.  I checked our weather before starting this session and we're expecting highs in the low 40's for the next 7 days and nighttime temps in the teens and twenties.  Even if the temp creeped up to the 50's it would do little to effect the temps inside my building.  I keep a High/Low thermometer inside my building and a 10 degree spike in outside temps won't effect the building temp more than 1 or 2 degrees.  The building also sits in the shade.

    Again, be aware that you need to keep the salt content in your sausage at a higher level when dry curing using this method and ALL meat air dried in this method needs to be cooked thoroughly before consumption.  AND DON'T ATTEMPT THIS IF YOU'RE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THIS METHOD.

    Here's a link from a couple of years ago that has some pics of the finished product.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  9. hdflame

    hdflame Meat Mopper

    Here's a little update on the sausage.

    It's been 5 days, well it will be at about 9pm tonight.  I couldn't wait any longer and had to try it.  It was very good but not quite the taste I'm looking for just yet.  Our weather has been so cold that I'm worried that it's going to dry before developing the flavor I want.  The flavors just don't develop when temps are below freezing....some warmer temps are actually needed to age it, temps between 33* F and 40* F.

    I think it's going one more day.  I may let it age another day or two in the fridge to further develop the flavor I want but I don't want it to dry out too much.

    Anyway, here's some pictures.

    This is day 4 1/2.  Tonight at about 9pm will actually be day 5.

    Here's a picture of some fresh as a comparison.  This is the same sausage the day it was stuffed.

    Moisture content is about where I want it.

    There's enough fat content that it fries without any additional oil.

    Personally, I'd like a little more red pepper flakes but when you're making it for the masses, you have to be a little light on the heat.

    Browning up nicely.

    Before and after pictures, along with some grits and over medium eggs!

    Almost forgot the toast and........

    .......fresh ground pepper!

    Every good thing must come to an end! lol

  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Man wish I had some grits and sausage and eggs right now!!!!! Looks great!!
  11. Yeah Man, sausage looks really good. And that is for sure my kinda meal ,any time of day. Nice cook. CF
  12. hdflame

    hdflame Meat Mopper

    Thanks for the comments!  It's good, but just not quite where I want it to be taste wise.  It's been so cold, I don't know if I'll get the flavor I'm looking for.  This is a first, where I've had temps that were TOO cold! lol  I usually have o worry about TOO warm!  The pond was frozen over this morning when I woke up.  It's finally starting to thaw now and it's already after noon.
  13. hdflame

    hdflame Meat Mopper

    Here's a little over half of the sausage.  I left the rest to age a couple more days.  I'll take it down on Wednesday morning when I get home from the fire station.  I kept a few pieces to cook for breakfast in the morning when I get to work.  They'll make some good sausage biscuits!

    It's looking good.  The color is where it needs to be.  It's still pretty soft, so it's not drying out too quick.

    All vacuum sealed and ready for the freezer.

    I cut most of it up into individual pieces and put either 6 or 8 pieces to a pack, but a few I leave long.  These long pieces will go on the smoker, coiled up, for when I'm doing larger pieces of meat on the smoker.  They will be snacks for the Grill Master! lol


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