Friday, February 17, 2012

Making Sausage

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Since getting Mr. Ziffel (is it wrong that I named the side of pork in the freezer?) we’ve had all sorts of wonderful meals. However, I didn’t order any pre-made sausage from the butcher, instead getting packages of plain ground pork. I wanted to be able to make my own.

Never mind that I’ve never actually made sausage before. I figured that, like making soap or cheese or butter or bread, it probably isn’t hard once you have an idea of what you’re doing. Making hard cheese, for example, can be somewhat tedious, but it’s not actually difficult if you have the right ingredients and know the method.

So I did some research. Most sources said that I needed to add pork fat of some kind to my ground meat. I have a packet of lard – the real stuff, not the hydrogenated stuff in the blue box you sometimes find on the shelf of the grocery store – but after taking a good look at the ground pork that came from Jodar Farms, it looked like it contained adequate fat. If the result was too dry, I’d add additional lard the next time.

Next: the recipe. There are lots and lots online, but I wanted to keep things pretty simple. For one thing, I didn’t want to go to the trouble of using casings, at least not at first. I remembered that in an episode of The Waltons, Aunt Martha Corinne (married to Grandpa’s brother) scandalized Grandma by putting too much red pepper and sage in the breakfast sausage. So those were two ingredients I wanted to use.

Stop laughing.

Sure enough, that was exactly what the recipe called for in my trusty Fanny Farmer Cookbook I’ve had since I graduated from high school. A bit more trolling through cookbooks I already owned, and some thinking about what kind of flavors I wanted, and I decided to add lots of black pepper, a bit of sage, and a dash of allspice. For breakfast sausage (sizzling above) I also dolloped in a some maple syrup. For a more savory option (used on pizza), I added toasted fennel seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle. For extra moisture I added a bit of cream or wine respectively.

I did it all by feel and instinct, so I can’t really offer a recipe here. So far I’m pretty pleased with the results, and plan to try a few more variations.

Anyone have suggestions?


  1. Just printed a recipe from for "Homemade Breakfast Sausage."

    Calls for garlic, maple syrup, sage, thyme, s&p, cayenne. I like fennel seed so I will probably change some things to accommodate my own desires. No lard, just no lean ground pork.

    Of course it isn't weird to name your pork. It's respectful!

  2. Ha! I got that same recipe from America's Test Kitchen in my inbox this morning! Serendipity...

  3. It was a pleasure to read this post, I love sausage and you got the ingredients down right.

  4. As one who knows a thing or two about sausage congratulations on your sausage efforts. George

  5. I make mine from venison-3 lbs lean ground venision, 1 lb fatty ground pork-generally labeled 70% lean-4 tablespoons sage, 2 tablespoon black pepper, 2 tablespoon crushed red pepper-extra crushed with a redneck mortar and pestle-(back of spoon in a cereal bowl) and 2 teaspoons salt. I mix it all up, and let it age in the refrigerator overnight, and then form patties and flash freeze them on a cookie sheet. When frozen, I put the patties in ziploc bags and fry up 1 or 2 at a time as needed.

  6. Thanks, George -- nice to hear from an expert!

    Anon, your sausage sounds terrific -- I love venison, and miss bartering preserves for game meat from my friends who hunt.