Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sausage - you can try this at home!

A few weeks ago Frank and I taught a class on hog butchering (and a little pork cooking) at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center outside Lanesboro.   We got our half pig from Hilltop Pastures Farm, via Ledebuhr's Meats in Winona.  The intent was to take some of the mystery out of buying a half a pig and processing some or all of it yourself.

One of the topics we covered was sausage making. Sausage is a great food if you are a vegetable lover.  And it really is very easy to make.  You don't have to take on half a pig.  You can start with some pork shoulder and fat purchased from your favorite meat market or butcher.  You don't even have to stuff it in casings.  You can simply shape it into patties.

A little full flavored sausage can turn vegetables from a side dish into a satisfying meal.  Last night we made risotto with some homemade chorizo, onions, canned tomatoes and peas.  All we needed was about two ounces of sausage per person.

After the class we had a beautiful fresh pork liver along with some meat and fat.  For years I have wanted to try making liverwurst and now I finally had the right materials and equipment at hand. (Isn't is great to know some dreams can come true?) This was a little more advanced project - we did need to stuff the meat mixture into casings.

Mix in a large bowl:  3/4 pound pork liver, 1/2 lean, trimmed pork and 1/2 pound fresh pork fat (all meat should be cut into 1 inch cubes and chilled)
Add 1 cup coarsely chopped onion and 1 T. dry milk powder
Add the following spice mixture: 1/2 t. white pepper, 1/2 t. cardamom, 1/2 t. ginger, 1/4 t. mace, 1/2 t. coriander, 1/4 t. dried thyme, 1 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. sugar.

Grind meat, spices and onion with medium coarse blade of a grinder.  Stuff into a two or three large casings and tie off.  Poach in water about 170 degrees for 2 hours.  Will keep about a week refrigerated.  May be frozen but might get a bit mushy.  (that's ok - just call it pate)

You can get a perfectly suitable hand cranked (less carbon emissions) tinned or stainless steel grinder on Amazon for $30 to $100. If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer you can purchase a grinding attachment.

If you think you are ready to attempt even some simple sausages,  it is a good idea to purchase a book about sausage making.   There are a lot of them out there.  I highly recommend Charcuterie: The Craft of Smoking, Salting and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.

I admit that dealing with that half a pig was a lot of work.  But now I can look forward to a year of good eating - for us and those who may share our table.  The picture on top shows the liverwurst after poaching.  On the bottom - sliced liverwurst with rye bread, red onions from our garden and mustard.  There are pickled Featherstone Farm radishes in the glass dish.   Lunch fit for a king.


  1. Yum, wish I was there to nibble some of that fresh liverwurst. Glad your butchery class went well, and I hope your pig led a happy life before being slaughtered. I've made risotto with sausage, too--delish. Strange, but I was planning to make risotto tonight, even before I read your blog! The animal products I plan to use are chicken broth and butter. The rest is mushrooms, leeks, tarragon and cognac (not sure if the last 2 go together, but I'm going to give it a try). Wish I had some of Frank's morels....;)

  2. wowweee! that looks wonderful! how did you prepare your radishes?? i just found a complete meat grinder set at a thrift store for $7.50 so i may try this!