Haven't posted in a while, been busy with other projects. Took a break from those projects to make some sausage! I've been wanting to do that for a while but was intimidated by the complicated procedure and the research needed. Did a lot of reading in order to get it "right" the first time and even then there were many surprises! I already had the cheapo grinder/stuffer for our Kitchenaid mixer that we use to make small batches of ground beef and pork for burgers, meatballs, breakfast sausage patties, etc. One thing that kept coming up while researching was to get a dedicated stuffer. I plan to make a lot of sausage so that was the next equipment purchase. We have an Oktoberfest party that we supply the sausage for and we buy 3 different varieties at 30 lbs total. So I ordered an all stainless steel 5L/10 lb stuffer with the intent of DIY'ing 3 different sausages for that party (on top of making 40 gallons of beer, 8 dozen soft pretzels and 5 quarts of sauerkraut!).
Went to Restaurant Depot and got a 20 lb twin pack of boneless butt for $1.49/lb. The plan was to make 10 lbs of Kielbasa and 10 lbs of Bratwurst. My neighbor helped cut it up, he was curious to see the whole process. We added 156 ppm cure #1 and 2% w/w kosher salt (including the salt in the cure) to the meat and let it chill for 36 hours.
After the 36 hrs, the meat containers went into the freezer for 2 hours. During that 2 hours, the grinder parts were pasteurized (dunked in 170F water for a few minutes), then dunked in sanitizer (Five Star Saniclean), then placed in a ziploc bag and into the freezer. Once everything was very cold we started grinding. Then we kept grinding and grinding some more. Took about 3.5 hours to grind the 20 lbs of pork. Granted, we had 8 containers and after each container was ground, it was weighed, spices (and water for kielbasa only) added by weight and then into the KA mixer bowl with the paddle attachment to mix. We used a 1/4" grinding plate since it was the biggest one I had. Half the bratwurst pork (5 lbs) was reground through the same plate as per Martin's (DiggingDogFarm) Wisconsin Brat recipe recommendation. We had to repeatedly put a cold water soaked towel on top of the KA mixer since it was getting so hot. Guess what the next purchase will be...
Spice mix added
One of the fry tests...yummy
Then the challenge of stuffing was upon us. The stuffer parts that contact meat were pasteurized then cooled in sanitizer. The Kielbasa was stuffed first and we had a couple blow-outs because the casing was sticking to the stuffing tube. We used a 7/8"/22mm stuffing tube for the 35-38mm casing. I skipped the part of flushing the inside of the casing with water prior to sliding it onto the tube, pretty sure that's why it was sticking. These were Butcher & Packer natural hog casings that I started hydrating 7 days prior, they were silky smooth. The blow outs weren't a big deal, we just tied it off and kept going. For the Bratwurst, I flushed the inside of the casing and we had no issues with sticking or blow outs.
We all got a kick out of the stuffing process, especially my wife.
Then came time to pinch and twist. The Kielbasa was first and I really screwed it up. Burst the casing 3 times. Had to be more gentle and move the meat down the casing to free up some space. I'm assuming we stuffed too tight. I was able to do the Bratwurst without bursting the casing, It was stuffed tighter and I had to work the meat through the casing a lot. I took all the left over meat from the stuffing blow outs and twisting bursts and mixed them and stuffed into new casing. Felt like a pro at that point, it was easy and I did it by myself. My neighbor left when I was pinching and twisting and screwing up the Kielbasa initially...he didn't want any parts of my mood at that point, haha.
Continuous Bratwurst strand below. The center link is where stuffing started and you can see the links get stuffed tighter and tighter as it gets to the end. This is something I'll have to work on next time.
All the sausage went into the 38F temp controlled chest freezer.
The next day, I set-up the OK Joe Longhorn to cold smoke. It was in the 40's so I placed a temp controlled heater in the firebox (probe in the cook chamber) to target 60F. Placed 3/4 of the sausage in the cook chamber and waited for them to be fully dry to the touch which took about 1.5 hours. Then lit the amnps, full with pitmasters choice and let it go for 8 hours while I went to work. They got some really nice color but from how they were hanging, there were spots that didn't get color where the links were touching. Next time I'll have to be around to move them for even color. The other 1/4 of the sausage will only be hot smoked to compare.
After 8 hours of cold smoke (below)
After the cold smoke, they were poached in 170F water until 155F IT and dunked in ice water until room temp IT. Then they were allowed to bloom for 3 hours before going back in the fridge.
The middle rack above is the hot smoked links which were finished during the bloom period for the cold smoked and poached links. The hot smoked links were gently cooked for 2 hours at ~200F with 7 month seasoned Red Oak as the only fuel until 155F IT. They turned out really nice. The cold smoked links will be hot smoked again before serving to get some color and smoke back into them since the poaching seems to have stripped them significantly.
Hot smoked links for dinner
I wrote in detail in the hopes that if I did anything wrong, someone can point it out. Thanks for looking!
Edited by dstar26t - 4/13/16 at 2:11am