I started with the aforementioned purchase of some dry cured hog casings, which would yield a nice medium sized dinner sausage. From there, I decided to go with a simple pork sausage recipe, why get fancy when everything else was going to be a learning experience. So, some pork shoulder (3 pounds), some pork belly (1.5 pounds) and some spices. The meat was nearly frozen and then cut into small cubes.
Very cold cubes of meat
2 tablespoons medium grind black pepper
3.5 tablespoons kosher salt
1.5 teaspoon fine sugar
1 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
1/2 teaspoon each granulated garlic and onion
The spices were dissolved in 1/8 cup warm water and 1/8 cup bourbon and allowed to bloom for one hour. That was the amount of time it took for me to grind the meat and cool it again in the freezer. Here is the grind just before stuffing. Up to this point, this was pretty familiar, the process of making a mild bulk sausage. Normally, I would have gone with a lot more seasoning, but, since I was going into casings, I went light, just in case.
The casings were soaked in warm water, 4 rinses for an hour, that was done before I even started with the meat. Just made sense to get out in front of that process. The KitchenAid was setup for stuffing sausage casings. I have owned the stuffing horn tool for years, they are still brand new. In any event, off we went, stuffing meat into pig guts.
Not the prettiest thing
It turns out, getting the casing into place was the hardest part of the process, it just took more time and patience than I expected. I now see why some people pay extra for pre-stretched casings. In any event, stuffing went smoothly, if slowly and somewhat unevenly. Some quick smoothing and the whole thing looked like I had an idea of what I was doing.
Texture looks okay
The texture looked okay, but, next time, I am going to split the total amount of meat into smaller parts, and keep some in the freezer, to keep it colder. Once the force meat got at all warmer, it started to emulsify in an unsatisfactory manner. That was lesson one. Lesson two would be not to sweat the size, as long as you don't over stuff the casings, when you are linking, things even out nicely.
Coiled up and ready
From here, the linking went fine, I decided to store them in the coldest part of the fridge for the rest of the day, somewhere, I read that this leads to a better overall flavor in the sausage. I think this was as good a result as I could have expected for a first try.
The final product was a nice, mild, sausage, with great texture. Lesson three would be that I could have easily doubled everything but the salt in the seasoning mix and it would have been fine. The flavor was so mild, the sausage had great texture and was just a little too mild. It had a fine pork base note, but, nothing to brighten up the flavor. These were poached, then smoke and grilled. Very much a success and great first step.