Tomorrow, I attempt italian sausage (uncased).

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by nomorenicksleft, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. I've found a recipe I think I like, I have all the ingredients. I now have a small digital scale that I got for $20, so that I can measure out the pork to the recipe better. I'm mostly set.

    I've already ground chuck at this point, so I have some idea of what it's like, how difficult cleanup will be. But there are a few finer points I'm missing... so if you guys could help out, I'd appreciate it.

    I only have the 3/16" grinding plate. Ideally, I might grind the meat first through 1/2" or something like that, before grinding it smaller a second time. But that's not available now. Is there any harm (or any reason) in grinding it a second time through the same plate?

    Is it mostly an act of grinding the meat, and then just thoroughly mixing the spices, or once mixed should it be ground once more? The recipe I like for the spices it uses, but its directions don't make much sense. It seems that if I grind those through with the meat, they'll just gum up the works and pool at the outer edge of the plate, or maybe inside towards the axle.

    On the other hand, it also occurs to me that this might mix the stuff much better than I ever could kneading it in by hand. So what's the proper procedure here?

    Another question, totally unrelated to the first: in what size batches would you freeze this? When I make lasagna in our big casserole dish, I generally use a pound bought at the store. So I think I'll put a few 1lbers away. Usually we've just done pepperoni on pizza, but now that I'll have plenty of this I think I'll like to add that. How much do you guys usually use for a large pizza? 1lb just seems like overkill, even if you're doing the meat lover's heart attack special.

    Finally, I'd like to say that at some point I have to get some good knives. Cutting up a 10lb boston butt with dull cheap knives is a chore. I mean, I've never sharpened (or had sharpened) any that I own, never grew up near anyone that cooked enough to know anything about them and I've only ever bought one cheap Walmart blade after another. Ugh.

    Anyway, wish me luck. I'll check back in here before I start... and if it's not a humiliating disaster that I want to forget afterward, I'll stop back in with some pictures even if it will look pretty lame. Eventually I'll get around to making something that looks as good as what the rest of you guys do. That's a promise.
  2. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For an Italian sausage I grind once, mix the seasoning in and stuff. I would use a 1/4" or 3/8" plate but if all you have is the 3/16" go for it. if you grind twice through a 3/16 it will be a paste.
    Make sure the cutter is tight against the plate and when the meat stops coming out like little worms check the cutter for buildup of sinew. Also it very important to keep the meat cold, almost frozen.
    Good Luck!
  3. hoser

    hoser Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Like Dan said....I grind once, and the most important thing to remember is to have the meat VERY cold. Makes grinding a lot easier and less messy.
    Good luck, looking forward to some Qview
  4. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Many schools of thought on grinding procedures. I personally mix the ingredients with the cut up meat and grind it twice; it gives it a better dispersion of the ingredients. You can grind twice through a fine plate, it better distributes the fat with the lean, just keep it cold. I do not add water when I mix the ingredients; if you let set in the fridge for 15 min cooling down after mixing the ingredients with the meat chunks the salt draws moisture from the meat and makes it moist enough when you do your first grind, plus helps blend the flavors together, then when grinding the second time I keep a soup bowl ½ full of water next to the grinder to dip my fingers in to keep the meat from sticking to them, and it helps the ground meat go down the grinder without having to use the plunger. I push down the meat in about 2-meatball amounts so it goes through the grinder naturally without backing up; if you constantly smash and bash it down the throat of the grinder then 1) it gets tiresome, you're shoving meat and grabbing the plunger, banging it down, putting it down and pushing more in then plunging again, and 2) that alone tends to mush up the meat. Just have patience and allow the grinder to do it's job naturally. Of course, there will be times when it backs up and nothing is coming out the plate and the throat is full; that's when you plunge; usually a couple taps will get it going.
    With making Italian sausage it is, however, coarser ground for a meatier texture. But, finer ground doesn't necessarily change anything. Beef is ground twice through the fine plate and it fries up crumbled just fine and patties are great; so sausage is no different, it is more for presentation in the casing than chowing down - coarse ground or fine ground, my false teeth will grind it as fast as I can stuff it.. in my mouth! lol!
    I do my home made pork breakfast sausage the same way i described above; here's some pictures. BTW, the recipe is:
    8 oz salt
    2 oz black pepper
    1 oz ground sage

    Mix together in a ziploc and shake.

    Measure out ½ oz. of seasoning mixture per 1 lb. of meat. So if you have 8 lbs of meat you use 4 oz. of seasoning. It's a good, old-fashioned breakfast sausage. I hand-patty (wear plastic gloves, meat won't stick to your hands) and lay out on a cookie sheet with double layers of wax paper between the patties and freeze overnight, then the next day pull apart and put into ziploc bags.

    butts cut up, 8 lbs:

    Seasoning for 8 lbs. = 4 oz.:

    Seasoning on meat:

    Ground twice through the fine plate:

    Patties done!

    The best part... Sampling!

    Be it breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, Polish sausage; you can do sausages this way with no problems.

    Now, to clarify the difference. I was a meatcutter for 30+ years and we did sausages in small batches, usually 20 lbs. at a time for each kind. We didn't have meat mixers which would mix the ground meat with the seasonings; if you did it that way you had to do it by hand and it's much more difficult dispersing ingredients in a lug of ground meat by hand at 20-30 lbs. at a time than it is if you disperse it un-ground in chunks; it's just plain faster. Then you grind it and let the grinder help with the mixing. So, that was the best procedure. Now if we had a 40 lb. mixer (which some stores did, but not the smaller ones) you could grind the meat once, toss it in the mixer with the ingredients and mix it thoroughly (they do do a good job!), then pack into the stuffer and stuff into casings; job done.
    You can try it both ways - this I am certain will NOT be your only batch of sausage if your family has anything to do about it! THEY WILL HOUND YOU! It is so much fresher and leaner and better for you!
    As far as packaging goes, you can pretty much tell as you measure it out what you'll want in each package; you don't want to waste any but you don't want to have to unthaw two packages and use only 1½ and let it go to waste (no such thing, really.. there's always a place for excess sausage.. my belly! lol!). Get your family involved and they will help you with the proportioning!
    The most important thing is to have fun, take a lot of Qview and don't forget to SAMPLE SAMPLE SAMPLE!!!
  5. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I grind my pork butts coarse and mix the seasonings in by hand in a tub with 1 cup water per 5 pounds of meat, so it goes thru my stuffer easier, and into 1lb poly bags.

    Make sure you fry a test piece so you can mix additional spices in, if necessary. We like out Italian Sausage with a little extra Fennel, Caraway and crushed red pepper.

    I use an old coffee grinder to grind up my spices a little finer. You can also use a "Morter and Pestel" or even crush your spices on a cutting board with the back of a frying pan.

    I keep track of my ingredients and/or methods in a journal, so I can can do it the same next time.

    Good Luck!

  6. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    To do a test for your bulk Italian, I would not do much more than 5 pounds to start with. Thats enough to know if you like how it turned out and any more than that is a lot to eat if you don't like how it turned out.

    Cube up your meat and fat to less than 1 inch pieces, mix your spices in well and grind once. I think your fat content will have more to do with the eventual outcome of texture than if you grind twice. If it's the usual pork butt, try to add an extra 1/2 pound of fat to 5 pounds of trimmed and cubed pork butt. Fresh butts that have not packed in solution are best.

    For storage, you can freeze it in plastic tubs or just place a wad on white freezer paper, wrap it up and tape it. Any old masking tape will work. I'd try for 1 pound packages. If you thaw one out and you use less than that, save the extra for breakfast. Little wads of that totaling about 1/4 pound per serving, plus red bell pepper, onion, fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes fried up.......some cheese on top and a couple eggs over easy on top of that......with a SD English muffin on the fit to eat. Don't forget the Cholula.

    For Italian, I like my fennel whole, but toast it on a hot skillet right before mixing. Anise compliments the fennel and goes in mine as do a few hot pepper flakes. Mine is not a hot Italian like some prefer, but that's me.

    Outside of Ebay, real high carbon steel boning knives are almost impossible to find, but as Pops says, they are the best. If not that, go for high carbon stain free. Not as easy to sharpen, but will work ok. And you will need a steel to touch it up. A good knife, sharpened up well, will slice through a chilled pork butt like it's butter, and is maybe 10X safer than using a dull knife.
  7. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    one cup water per pound of meat? is that correct? sounds like alot of water?
  8. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    1 Cup Water Per 5 Pounds of Meat
    Corrected my previous post.

  9. rstr hunter

    rstr hunter Smoking Fanatic

    We generally do about 10# of italian sausage each year and put maybe 1/4# in a hamburger bag and freeze in this small of portions. This is a good amount for homemade pizza and or calzones yet you don't have to have lots left over. My recipe is a great pizza sausage but kind of strong to use in lasagna or spaghetti for my tastes. When we first did a batch we only did 5# until we knew we liked it. Also we only single grind this. The only double grinding I do is for weiners and pepper sticks where you want the texture somewhat thinner. We do not stuff our italian sausage and instead just use it as fry sausage so that is why the hamburger bags work. Good Luck.
  10. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hamburger bag? I googled the term and came up with those stupid foil hamburger wrappers you get at your favorite heart attack emporium.[​IMG]
  11. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Forget I asked. Found them. Boy, those things are pricey. Can you vacuum seal those things. I can get Food Saver pint bags in the local stores for a lot cheaper. Re-looking, do you stuff these bags from your stuffer into a tube shape then heat seal? Now I'm really confused (not that hard to do these days) That would be handy. Since joining this group, I've been trying to figure out where to put another freezer (2 are already full with "future projects" and another refrigerator, just for this "hobby". Not having a garage really cramps the options.
  12. rstr hunter

    rstr hunter Smoking Fanatic

    No we hand stuff these and seal them with twist ties. The 5-10# of italian sausage and the 25# of breakfast fry sausage isn't the chore it's the 150-200# of hamburger that get put in them. It works best as a three person job. One with holds the bag with the opening turned over their finger tips. Then one person make the meat into a column and packs it into the bag. The first one then packs the meat down and hands it to a third person who twists the bag and seals it with a twist tie.
    Here is a link to Butcher-Packer to the bags. They are much cheaper by quantity.

    Hope this helps. Good Luck.

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