Earlier this spring, my high school pal, JD, called and asked if I wanted to make sausage on Saturday. It's much easier with a few folks to spread out the work, but I wasn't prepared for something like 50 pounds of sausage. Nor did I expect JD to film the event. But, ever the overachiever, he did. Our other pal, Mac, the bearded one, joined us.
So please forgive the Saturday shadow and numerous chins and the unscripted nature of the video and my limited editing skills, but do follow the basic steps to awesome sausage. There are five, follow them all, keep your meat really cold, and you'll have great links (or skip step 5 and make patties or use it loose). It's summer grilling season and there's nothing better to sizzle on a grill than sausage, especially if you made it.
My favorite sausage, after all these years, five since the book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, was published, remains the chicken sausage, and I offer the recipe here. For the technique, watch the video. It's easy: cut, grind, mix, taste, stuff. And fun, especially if you have a couple friends to join you and share the work.
Chicken Sausage with Basil and Tomato (created by Brian Polcyn, adapted from our book, Charcuterie )
3-½ pounds/1.5 kilograms boneless, skinless chicken thigh, cubed
1-1/2/750 grams pork fat or pork belly, cubed
1.25 ounces/40 grams kosher salt (about 2-½ tablespoons)
1 teaspoon/3 grams freshly ground pepper
½ tablespoon/10 grams garlic, minced
½ cup/60 grams basil, chopped, tightly packed
½ cup/100 grams roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
¼ cup/60 grams sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, diced
¼ cup/60 milliliters red wine vinegar, chilled
¼ cup/60 milliliters extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup/60 milliliters dry red wine, chilled
10 feet/3 meters hog casings, soaked in tepid water for at least ½ hour and rinsed
Yield: 5 pounds of sausage or about 20 6-inch links
Update in response to comments: My thoughts on grinders and stuffers
I used a Kitchen Aid grinder attachment for years, until it broke. Then I got a new one and the blades just weren't any good, cheap and the dulled quickly. (And don't even talk to me about their silly stuffer attachment; a pain and a mess). If you grind more than 6 or 7 times a year, it's probably worth investing in a real grinder. Here's the one I use. Grinders are also essential for really good hamburgers and tartare, which I would only make if I ground my own meat.
The only stuffer I really recommend is a cylinder stuffer like the one in the video. Others are messy and difficult; making sausage is enough of a project as it is without making it difficult on yourself. If you want to make sausage-making a part of your life, it's worth the money.