chicken sausage for dad

sausage plated
sausages cooked on plateAs the years go by, I find it increasingly difficult to come up with gift ideas for my parents, especially my dad.  There isn’t a whole lot that he needs or wants that he wouldn’t just pick up for himself, so when it comes to gift-giving time, I’m always a bit stumped.  To make matters even more difficult, his birthday falls within a week of Fathers’ Day.  This year I decided I was done going to the mall and spending money on some useless object that would end up in the back of a closet.  So for Father’s Day I planted some herbs in his garden, and for his birthday I made him a few pounds of sausage!

sausage on grill squareMy dad is very health-conscious- he rarely eats red meat, and usually goes for the low-fat option when possible.  He also loves to grill, so I thought what better gift than a bunch of homemade chicken sausage?  I found out through reading online that most of the chicken sausage you buy in the store is actually not that low fat, but by making it at home, you can obviously control what goes into it and make a much healthier product.  Milk powder is supposedly the “secret ingredient” to keep things moist.  (Also, apparently cooked white rice is a great fat substitute, although I didn’t try it.)

Italian spicesI’m not going to lie- making sausage at home is a labor of love, and the two main reasons to do it would be a) controlling the ingredients, and b) making some creative flavors that you couldn’t find in a store.  The meat counter at my local grocery makes sausage on-site, and has a decent variety, so until now I never felt much need to make my own.  But I always like to try new and challenging food projects, so this was as good an excuse as any!  I made two varieties, a chicken “bratwurst”, and a sweet Italian-style sausage.  The bratwurst recipe was adapted from this one, and I didn’t use a recipe for the Italian sausage- I just added a bunch of fresh garlic, fennel seeds, a few red chili flakes, basil and oregano.   I used a 2:1 ratio of boneless thighs and chicken breast- I wanted it lean but not totally dry.sausage stuffing 3

meat plunger

I’ve used my meat grinder attachment before to make chorizo, but had never used the sausage stuffer before, so that was a new frontier.  The first time around, I had some trouble with getting the timing down, and ended up with some air pockets, etc.  Fortunately, the second time went a lot more smoothly, which encourages me to repeat the experiment, knowing it will get easier with practice.  The directions tell you to grease the nozzle before putting the casing over it, but I found that if the casing is wet, that works much better than grease.

sausage stuffing 1

sausages diamond plate 1

You have to really be cool with playing with intestines to make your own sausage.  It’s fun, once you get the hang of it and get over the fact that what you’re putting meat into was formerly a thoroughfare for “waste material” as we’ll delicately refer to it.  Rinsing the casings is entertaining- you fit one open end over your faucet and let the water flow though, and it inflates like a water balloon.  Fun stuff!

intestine in hand

intestine balloon

sausage & beerI haven’t gotten any feedback yet from Dad, as I think he put the sausages in the freezer for later, but Marvin & I grilled a few leftovers the other night and I was pretty pleased for a first-time effort; enough so that I’m inclined to attempt it again before grilling season is through.  I’ve been dying to try a Vietnamese sausage, and maybe even a boudin noir if I can get my hands on some pig’s blood (anyone having a hookup should email me!).  If you want more info on making your own sausage, check out the blog Saucisson Mac, or if you’re really serious and don’t already have the book Charcuterie, go pick that up at your local bookstore.

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9 responses to “chicken sausage for dad

  1. Linda Pfeifer (Noelle's mom)

    Creative gifts are always the best and you come up with very creative ideas. Feel free to give me a “food” gift any time!

  2. Looks great! I had the same experience with the KA stuffing tubes, water works best, but still I found using them a frustrating experience, it’s not very efficient and it’s messy. After about a year I got a vertical stuffer and I have been a happy sausage maker ever since. That’s said, keep on grinding, everybody loves homemade sausage.

    Cheers.

    • I haven’t heard about the vertical stuffer, I’ll have to check that out, is it a stand-alone apparatus? I did find the KA stuffer to be messy, and a lot of meat was left in the chamber so it’s impractical to do small amounts. I also had an issue getting it to fill evenly, but I thought it was just my inexperience. 🙂

      (Whoa… never mind… just looked up the vertical sausage stuffers, don’t think I’ll be buying one of those any time soon, prices start around $150!! Guess I’ll have to tough it out with my KitchenAid attachment.)

  3. Casings are such fun! My butcher only advised me to let them soak in salt water for a bit before I used it, as they were already rinsed, apparently, but I will HAVE to try the tap thing. Hehe.

  4. Yeah, stuffers can be a bit pricey, and unless you want to make a habit of stuffing sausage, the KA will do. That said, I found a 5 lb stuffer for $80 that I was very happy with and it’s 1000x better than the stuffer tubes. Since then I traded up to a 15 pounder and gave the 5 to my mom. I still grind with the KA grinder.

    @CC: Casings are packed in salt. Soak in plain cold water. Fill like balloons if yer feeling daffy. Getting them from a butcher is a good way to go, I usually ask for a couple of arm lengths (12 ft) and that’s plenty for 5lb of sausage.

    Cheers.

    • Mac- thanks for all the info! Maybe I’ll add that 5-lb stuffer to my xmas wish list. (It can reside in my basement pantry next to the pasta machine I use once or twice a year! Haha.) If only I had more time, I’d be cranking out pasta, sausage and other “slow food” goodies more regularly. But perhaps for now, the KA stuffer will have to suffice.

      I read somewhere in a recipe to rinse the casings, and figured I may as well. I did see a few tiny black specks here and there, not a lot, but enough to make me glad I was rinsing. I bought a bag of casings packed in salt- much more than I needed, but they last forever in the salt, and now I have them on hand for the next time. Actually what I ended up doing was freezing some of the sausage mixture for later, so it was nice to have the casings for whenever I want to thaw that out and make some more links.

  5. I made sausages at culinary school, and they are definitely a labor of love! But, what a great gift!

  6. This looks great, have to try it out when Santa gets the mixer with all the attachments for the holidays. BTW what is the beer you have in the photo that you are pairing it with?

    • I’m not sure exactly- my boyfriend lives in Hamtramck, a city in Detroit (it’s actually surrounded by Detroit) that was founded by Poles and has lots of Polish markets. I actually asked for Czech beer but he said they didn’t have any so I think this is a Polish beer. I used to live in Hamtramck as well and would always pick up the inexpensive pint-size bottles of the flavorful and strong (usually 8.5% or so) Czech beers… one of the things I miss about living there! 🙂
      (And until you get the mixer and attachment, you can always make sausage patties instead- they’re just as tasty, and a lot less involved!)

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