Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 Apr

Homemade Sausage Links and Patties

cooked sausage2Making fresh sausage at home can be a bit intimidating at first glance. How does one go about grinding the meat? What makes it taste like sausage and not just ground meat? And how in the heck do you shape it into links? After all those questions about homemade sausage run through your mind, inevitably you’re going to ask yourself, “Why bother?”

The reason is simple – if you make your own sausage you know exactly what’s going into it. Instead of buying sausage made of mystery meat, sugar, and preservative and coloring additives you can choose the meat, add any spices or fresh herbs that you wish and skip all that other junk. Suddenly, sausage is no longer a questionable choice of protein, it’s a healthy, flavorful part of your Primal eating plan.

Besides that, you might even find that you enjoy the process of making sausage. There is something really satisfying about rolling your sleeves up and putting some time and effort into preparing your food from start to finish –  not to mention the pride and peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what you’re eating. And when you break down the process of making fresh sausage and take it step-by-step, it’s really not as hard as you think.

Equipment

Grinding your own meat is at the heart of sausage making, so you’re going to need a meat grinder. If you’re really serious and plan to grind meat regularly for large batches of sausage, investing in a commercial meat grinder is worth considering. For smaller batches of sausage, you can buy a meat-grinding attachment that fits on a stand mixer, like a KitchenAid. This type of grinder is ideal for most people. Last but not least, there is always the option of a manual meat grinder, adding an upper-body workout to every recipe

.grinder attachment

No matter which type of meat grinder you use, you’ll also need to have a stuffer that attaches to it. A sausage stuffer is a tube that feeds the ground meat into the sausage casings to create those beautiful links.

stuffer

Of course, you don’t have to link your sausage. You can simply grind and season the meat then leave it in bulk form. We’re not going to lie: shaping ground meat into sausage patties is a cinch and less time consuming than stuffing the meat into links. However, if you want to go all the way and link your sausage, you’re going to need a stuffer attachment to pipe the meat into the casings.

Ingredients

Casing is the edible tubing that the ground meat is stuffed into so that the sausage keeps its shape. Traditional, natural casings are animal intestinal membranes, usually from hogs. They are typically packed in salt and need to be soaked and flushed with water before using. Commercially made sausages are often stuffed into casings that have been manmade from collagen obtained from cattle hide. Collagen casings are more durable and evenly shaped and don’t have to be cleaned, which is why manufacturers prefer them. However, natural casings are less expensive and work really well for home sausage-making. Ask you butcher shop to order casings for you, or order them from an online specialty butcher.

saltpacked casings

Choosing your meat is the next step. We like pork and lamb for the rich flavor and higher fat content (which is important for sausage) but you can also make sausage out of chicken, turkey, deer or whatever other type of meat you like. Some people buy extra fat to add to the sausage, or in the case of chicken or turkey grind up the skin too, but you can avoid this if you buy cuts that naturally have a good ratio of lean and fatty meat. For lamb, pork or beef stick to shoulder cuts (roasts) and for duck, chicken, and turkey use legs and thighs.

Sausage is just as much about the seasonings as it is about the meat. The way you flavor the meat is what makes it scream “sausage!” with each bite, instead of just tasting like ground meat. You can experiment with any combination of herbs and spices you like, but we’ve included a few classic sausage spice mixes to get you started.

If you have a great freezer, you can make large batches of fresh sausage. Otherwise, stick to small batches that you’ll eat right away. Small batches are also a good way to go until you perfect the seasoning to your liking. Start with 2-3 pounds of meat, which will make several servings of sausage, and work your way up from there.

Sweet Fennel Pork Sausage

fennel sausage ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of pork butt, cut into 1-inch chunks (include all fat)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (toasted or not, your choice)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Instructions:

Sprinkle seasonings and parsley on the chunks of meat. Mix well.

The manual for your meat grinder should have specific instructions for assembling your specific model or for attaching a grinder to your mixer. It’s a pretty simple process. Once the grinder is attached, grind the meat mixture through the small plate (the small plate will give you a finer grind) of the meat grinder into a cold bowl.

grinding meat

A cold bowl will keep the meat cold and make it easier to form the meat into patties or links.

Stir the vinegar into the ground meat.

Fry a little bit of the meat so you can taste it, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

If you’re making sausage patties, shape the meat into patties and fry immediately, or refrigerate the raw meat up to 24 hours before using (or you can freeze the meat).

If you’re making sausage links, soak the casings for a 1/2-hour in warm water. Next, run cool water from the kitchen faucet through the casings to flush them out. This is kind of like filling a water balloon with water, but you’re letting the water run all the way through the tubing.

Attach the sausage stuffer onto the meat grinder, following the instructions provided with your equipment. The manual will probably also have instructions for filling the casings, but here’s a basic guide: Slide one end of the casing over the top of the stuffer, bunching up as much casing as possible around the outside of the stuffer. Turn the meat grinder on, and meat will slowly work its way through the stuffer and into the casing. Use your hands to guide the meat into the casing and shape the sausage. When the link has reached the length you want, tie a knot in the casing on either end of the meat to make a link. Continue to make links until all the meat is used.

guiding links raw sausages

This basic method of sausage-making can be used with any type of meat and any seasoning combination. A few more combinations to try:

Fresh Herb Sausage

  • 2 pounds of raw meat, cut into 1-inch chunks (include all fat)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (try basil, cilantro or dill)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or red wine

Merguez Sausage

  • 2 pounds of boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes (include all fat)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or red wine

No matter which recipe you try, you’ll find the flavor of homemade sausage to be so much fresher and livelier than store bought, not to mention that it can be made with high-quality meat and the spices adjusted exactly to your liking. Serve homemade sausage for breakfast with eggs or grill it up for dinner…or why not do both? Now that you know exactly what’s going into your sausage, there’s no need to hold back.

cooked sausage1

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. WOW! AMAZING!! I need to find me a meat grinder! First, I need to save the money for one.

    Thanks for posting this. I am making my own beef jerky from ground beef this weekend! Next up will be homemade sausage :)

    Primal Con in 6 days. Yahoo!!!

    Primal Toad wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • I got a hand grinder for about $25 off of craigslist. Might be an option if you don’t mind a little extra exercise!

      Sue wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • we watched the dollar pages and found our meat grinder for 50 dollars used. But that was probably ten years ago. we use it every year to process our deer.
      you dont’ have to buy a new one, just keep your eye out at yard sales, thrift stores and the penny shopper and you should find something… hopefully anyway.

      Kitty wrote on May 7th, 2011
  2. YUM! My parents used to make homemade sausages when I was growing up. I am now inspired to borrow their grinder, grab a friend and plan a day to make our own sausages! Thanks!

    Stephanie A. wrote on April 9th, 2011
  3. As someone who does this for a living near Chicago I have to criticize how loosely you stuffed that sausage! =)

    There are still a few of us making sausage this way… just larger equipment (55 pound stuffer, 200 pound mixer, etc). Natural (though factory farmed meat, unfortunately) through and through.

    I doubt businesses our size will last, however. We spend on average an hour a day dealing with the government. Companies who produce 10,000’s of pounds a day also spend an hour a day… We just don’t have the employees to spare like the big guys do!

    Timmers wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • Are your sausages sold in stores? And if so, what’s the brand name? I live in Chicago, and as awesome as these instructions are, I don’t have a KitchenAid and find it doubtful that I’ll be buying a stand-alone grinder anytime soon. I would love to try some natural sausages!

      Kristen wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • Have you tried recruiting for volunteers? you may find some retired folks who would fill this role for you if its only a hour or so a day. May even find some retired government workers who would like to help out. Maybe you can barter sausage for office help..?

      Elizabeth wrote on April 30th, 2011
  4. If I can get that music Kramer and Newman had going while they made sausages, maybe I’ll give it a shot ;)

    Peter wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • Which episode was that? I’ve got the collection!

      Tiki Jane wrote on April 9th, 2011
  5. Love the recipe. There are two not-so-secret ingredients that a lot of people miss with sausage. One is fennel. The other is PORK FAT. Hooray!

    (PORK FAT must be written in all caps, every time)

    Carl wrote on April 9th, 2011
  6. sausage is one of my favorite things for breakfast. thanks for the How To!

    Meredith G. wrote on April 9th, 2011
  7. I got mine at a flea market awhile back for like 20 bucks for a manual grinder and cast iron sausage stuffer. I bet if you look online and shop around you can find a similar deal. Add a little manual labor to your sausage making!

    Dharma_Punk wrote on April 9th, 2011
  8. Nope!!! Not doing it. I’ll keep going to the German Deli for my sausage. That has got to be good enough. :-)

    Ute wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • I love sausage and always bought mine from the store, til I began to realize how much salt and MSG goes into them. I’ve been making my own version for six months now, due to wanting to be able to control the additives. the high sodium content of store bought sausages sometimes burns my mouth.

      Kitty wrote on July 17th, 2011
  9. This is great I too am inspired to buy a meat grinder & create my homemade sausages. Neiman Ranch is our families favorites. Our son loves the apple gouda flavor. Definitely will save us money by making it from scratch. Our family has been primal for a yr. now & benefitted from this site & others similar to it. Thanks for the info and all those who have made comments on this post.

    madeline wrote on April 9th, 2011
  10. This is such perfect timing, I was just laying in bed this morning thinking I really need to make my own sausage but wasn’t sure what the best cuts were for it. I’m lucky to have this same grinder attachment for my KitchenAid, which I’ve never used. Thanks Mark! Also I just got your new cookbook and it’s great, I love the photos of the different stages of prep.

    Jenny Eliuk @ Stay on Path wrote on April 9th, 2011
  11. I’m definitely giving this a go! Sausages here in the UK aren’t Primal because they contain varying degrees of rusk (wheat based) and I’ve been wondering about making my own for ages.

    Kelda wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • Hi. Try asking for gluten free sausages. I buy them here in Sussex, and also Towcester in Northamptonshire. If enough people ask, your local butcher will produce them

      andrew wrote on April 10th, 2011
  12. Hah! I’m eating homemade sausage a friend gave me after slaughtering one of his hogs. It don’t get anymore Primal than that unless you kill a wild pig yourself…with a pointy stick :o

    Vance wrote on April 9th, 2011
  13. PORK FAT!

    Jesselyn wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • We make 300+ lbs. of smoked sausage, just a couple of weeks prior to Christmas, every year. We use red pepper in our seasoning mix & we smoke it with dry pecan wood along with some fresh cut apple branches. The stuff is yummy & it certainly doesn’t last long. I’ve thought about turning it into a commerical business, but we give it away as Christmas gifts.

      TJ wrote on April 9th, 2011
  14. Ah, hand crank grinder. Brings back memories of childhood. Somehow I inherited that grinder… now I feel inspired to use it!

    Jennifer wrote on April 9th, 2011
  15. I love to make my own sausage, but I’m not always up to grinding my own meat. I buy plain ground pork from the butcher shop and spice it and make patties. Here’s my recipe for breakfast sausage:

    1 Tablespoon kosher salt
    1 Tablespoon paprika
    2 teaspoons peppercorns
    ½ teaspoon sage
    ½ teaspoon thyme
    ½ teaspoon nutmeg

    Grind everything in a spice grinder. Use 1 T per pound of ground pork.

    Kari wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • Yum! That combination of spices sounds great. I just wrote it down & will try it tomorrow. Thanks!

      Kellie wrote on April 9th, 2011
  16. And homemade sausage is the perfect vehicle for getting some organ meat into your diet. I made some a few weeks ago, and it was a big hit…even with a 10 month old baby!

    Chowstalker wrote on April 9th, 2011
  17. I used to make a “healthy” low fat sausage with ground turkey breast and egg white- I’m so glad I can ditch that recipe :)

    Jen wrote on April 9th, 2011
  18. I love making my own sausage too, I buy organic pork from a local farm and grind it up, add seasoning and form it into patties…I freeze them so I always have them on hand!!!!
    The recipes in this post look great, can’t wait to try them, I typically just do a traditional sage sausage so these will be great to throw in the mix!

    Andrea wrote on April 9th, 2011
  19. Looks delicious. However, fennel seeds not a grain? After so many seeds, it does have a high carb count. I don’t get it?

    Lee wrote on April 9th, 2011
  20. Oktoberfest…………..?

    Alex Good wrote on April 9th, 2011
  21. My parents and I make our own sausage for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving (pretty much all the “family gathering” holidays). It is AMAZING! And it’s really not that hard to make, aside from trying to ensure the casings don’t rupture as you pump the meat into them.

    Thanks Mark, now you have me CRAVING it up here at college, 4 hours away from home and meat grinder-less!

    Stacey wrote on April 9th, 2011
  22. Thanks Mark – Great Post!

    I love making my own sausages and while I’ve never started from scratch I plan to try it soon, thanks for the directions!

    For those who don’t want to take a short cut, I’ve developed a really popular Turkey Breakfast Sausage recipe. I’ve put together a post and video on it here:
    http://scdlifestyle.com/2011/03/what-to-eat-for-breakfast-on-scd/

    SCD is basically the same as Primal but tailored more towards those with digestive diseases or problems.

    Jordan Reasoner wrote on April 9th, 2011
  23. Our butcher will happily grind the meat for us; perhaps yours will as well. We just add our seasonings at home.

    Cindy wrote on April 9th, 2011
  24. My friends and I get together and make about 60lbs of sausage together. We’re next scheduled to go on April 29th – this post has made me even more excited.

    @Peter: We always put on a little sausage making music, as you suggest :)

    Shaun wrote on April 9th, 2011
  25. In trying to eat paleo, the hardest thing for me has always been the lack of variety of breakfast-food choices. I personally get tired of eggs and bacon after a few days, so a new recipe to spice things up is always a blessing

    Jeremy Priestner wrote on April 9th, 2011
    • @Jeremy: Try the Banana-Almond pancake recipe on this site. They are fabulous, and VERY filling..I can only eat three. I add a little real almond extract to the recipe.

      cjbrooks wrote on April 10th, 2011
      • I freeze them and take them with me on my three and four-day trips. These are great for people who are gluten-intolerant, or who have IBS…just leave out the yolks if you have IBS.

        cjbrooks wrote on April 10th, 2011
    • A couple of awesome egg-free breakfasts:

      1. Bacon and cabbage- Chop bacon, sautee with onions and garlic, and then stir in chopped cabbage at the end (I put the lid on it for a few minutes at that point, to soften the cabbage). I usually do 1/4 of a head of cabbage, 1/2 or 1 onion, 3 slices of bacon, 1 clove of garlic

      2. Sausage sautee- Cut up 1/2 lb of cooked sausage and brown in pan, sautee with onion (those two steps overlapped), and then add a bunch of spinach at the end and cover the pan until the spinach is wilted.

      I got the second recipe from Robb Wolf’s book.. he has a lot of great recipes! Including one for pancakes using nutbutter, unsweetened applesauce, and eggs (but trust me.. you don’t taste the eggs)

      Elizabeth wrote on April 19th, 2011
  26. YAY!!! I was just at the store reading all the ingredients on packaged stuff. i was thinking “I need a recipe to make my own”. *poof!* I’m bookmarking this page…

    peggy wrote on April 10th, 2011
  27. If you are new to the art of snag making and really want to get into it, I cannot recommend the following book enough: http://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Craft-Salting-Smoking-Curing/dp/0393058298/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302490026&sr=8-1

    Amazing recipes in Charcuterie, every single one I have tried has been delicious, specially the smoked hot dogs and chef milo’s country venison smoked sausages, yummy.

    Andrew wrote on April 10th, 2011
    • +1 for Charcuterie. I almost feel like I shouldn’t be recommending this book because it’s been a secret recipe weapon of mine for a while.

      Tim Nowaczyk wrote on May 5th, 2011
  28. This looks so good! I usually buy my sausage from Whole Foods, the Brat Hans brand. They don’t contain any hormones, fillers, sugars, etc. Just meat and veggies. My only complaint is their spicy Italian sausage could be spicier, but its still so good! They make meatballs, too!

    amanda wrote on April 11th, 2011
  29. Thanks for the recipe, Mark! This can be time-consuming and I simply don’t have as much time as I’d like; so since I really personally don’t care about the shape of the sausage, just the flavor, when my husband and I make homemade sausage, we usually just leave it bulk since many recipes call for removing the casing and cooking the sausage anyway. The other way we do it is to pack it into a meatloaf pan and slice it after it’s cooled. We freeze it in portions, whatever, the “form” so we can grab however many packages we may need for the dish we are making.

    Shari wrote on April 11th, 2011
    • Do you cook the meat in the meatloaf pan, then slice it,or do you freeze it and then slice it? Thanks!

      Rhonda wrote on April 13th, 2011
  30. Yay PORK FAT!

    I’ve been making my own sausage with that same KitchenAid attachment for several months now. Some additional tips:
    – Also stick all of your grinder attachments, the FAT, and the meat in the freezer about 30 minutes before grinding; this helps you get a faster grind
    – Don’t be afraid to play around with your seasonings; you can divide up your yield and season each one differently; I personally prefer sherry wine over vinegar or red wines for my sausage; sriracha makes a nice spicy sausage

    Get yer grind on!

    LadyAdmin wrote on April 12th, 2011
  31. Great article. Looking forward to trying these recipes!

    Primal Rick wrote on April 13th, 2011
  32. My favorite breakfast sausage is with rubbed sage, red pepper flakes, and salt & black pepper. And I just get ground pork from the butcher at Whole Foods. Very easy & fast.

    Laurel wrote on April 13th, 2011
  33. Can’t stress enough to keep the meat and all equipment COLD. Meat will turn to mush otherwise.

    Jim wrote on April 13th, 2011
  34. I made sausage patties with rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, allspice and garlic & onion – it was heavenly I don’t think I’ve eaten so much pork in one go before! :-D

    Milla wrote on October 18th, 2011
  35. This is a great article and useful comments. I need/want to start making my own due to a lot of food allergies.

    Now to buy a KitchenAid and a freezer…

    Isabel wrote on January 26th, 2012
  36. I saw a recipe for homemade sausage in a magazine, and the chef ground it up in a food processor (I think the pork cut was Boston Butt). Then, she shaped it into logs, and wrapped the logs in parchment. Makes sense, and it looked fantastic. Most of us have a food processor, so this way requires one less appliance!

    Maryanne wrote on March 14th, 2012
  37. hell yeah! gonna try making some chorizo and throw together some spanish peppers n sausage:

    http://bit.ly/GISjFq

    sean wrote on March 21st, 2012
  38. I just finished my first batch of sausages. I ground 8lbs of pork loin and divided in in half. I seasoned one half with spices for Italian tip toast and grind your fennel for an amazing flavor. The second half I blended cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and chopped fresh cherries I formed patties for the grill. Amazing! I can’t believe how great they tasted.

    Mel buonato wrote on July 14th, 2012
  39. I tried apple cider vinegar, as that’s all I had. My attempt didn’t even begin to hold together in the frying pan; just ended up with a few boiled eggs in a pan full of mince beef…

    Wondering what would happen if I added ghee or coconut oil to the mix?

    Alan wrote on August 24th, 2012
  40. I bought a nice hand crank grinder, with the stuffing attachments at Acaddemy Sports for 18.36 including tax.

    James Berman wrote on April 24th, 2013

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