The Q-View below is VERY basic. If you have never ground sausage before, I want you to know just how easy it really is. Do your prep work diligently, make sure you run a clean kitchen, have the right equipment and follow the directions. :) If you have ground your own sausage before, I just want you to know how much I love my set-up. I had some real fun with my new grinder today.
There are also plenty of "scale shots" to show just how much is lost in trimming and de-boning.
Today, Monday September 6, 2010 I am starting my first fermented sausage project. Rytek Kutas's Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing, 4th Edition: Cervelat Summer Sausage, pg 359. All I did today was hack my meat into grinder sized pieces, pop it into my grinder and mix it with seasonings, fermenter and cure. The pictures below are a step-by-step for that piece. On Friday, September 10, 2010, I will be stuffing it into cellulose casings, hanging it to dry for a few hours, smoking it and cooling it off. I plan to post another "Q-view Heavy" step-by-step of each of those processes as well.
I hope to eventually take the whole project and make it into one big post. If the moderators feel I am taking up too much time/room on the forum, they can delete these off (I won't be offended!) but I am hoping someone will find them Wiki-worthy or something.
EDIT: The Day 2 post can be found here:
It's not really fair to say I started this project today. I really started it about four days ago when I hauled a bunch of meat out of my freezer and into the fridge to thaw. I also had to hunt down some Beef Hearts (see my post: Have a Heart?) and find a pretty Pork Shoulder. I keep a few bleach-scrubbed busboy style tubs around just for the purposes of meat handling.
My husband was sweet enough to let me re-arrange the fridge to make room for massive amounts of thawing meat.
It's heavier than it looks. :) I hauled the whole thing down to the basement. I have a mini-kitchen set up down there where it is nice and cool. My sausage stuffer is bolted to my extra countertop, I have a big utility sink with a sprayer attachment and there is also a nice loud stereo to keep me company. Crank it! I'm not coming back up for at least an hour!
The grinder, scale & measuring cups will all be used later. For now, I have a nice sharp butcher's knife and a freshly bleached cutting board to make me happy. Chopped meat will go into a new cleaned tub (off the picture, to left of the board.) Any bacteria that might have landed in Tub One as the meat was thawing should not go into my fresh meat. Always thaw in the fridge. The uncontrolled temperature of countertop thawing is just too big of a risk in a smoked meat/fermented meat project.
First up on the block: Two beef hearts. Nicely cleaned, they just need to be chopped into grinder sized bits.
The bigger heart got chopped first. After trimming the hard fat and stringy bits, it weighed in at exactly 2.5 lb.
Heart two was a little smaller, post chop came in light at about 2 lb.
They went into the tub and I grabbed my first beef roast. I had thawed three different chunks of beef from the Whole Cow I bought a few weeks back. I wanted a variety of flavor, but was determined to keep the quality high. What is the point of making sausage if you can't control what goes in it? :) Pre-chop we are looking at about 2.75 lb.
Look at that pretty little roast, unwrapped and rinsed.
Chunked up and trimmed, we lost some weight, about .25, or four ounces.
Beef roasts two and three were also very nicely sized. I used a Heel of Round and a Sirloin Tip. I get a tremendous deal on price when I buy Whole Cow, so I don't mind using quality flavorful cuts here. Besides, as you will see, they are so pretty. Side by side, still wrapped up.
Unwrapped and rinsed off. I discovered them to still be very cold, in fact the centers were still icy when I started chopping. That's just about perfect for an unthaw.
There is really nothing to trim on that Heel of Round. I want that fat in my sausage. About 3.25 lb here.
Same thing goes on the Sirloin. 2.75 of good marbling will all make it into the grinder.
At this point, the tub is full of great looking beef.
I haul out the Pork Shoulder next. I got a pretty fantastic deal on it, fresh from the meat processor. Pig was slaughtered Friday morning, I picked it up Friday afternoon. It doesn't get much fresher than this. As you can see, she is coming in at just a hair under 7-and-a-quarter. This was the most expensive cut of meat I had to pay for.
I got it out of the package and realized the roast still had the shoulder blade in it. I needed to preserve as much meat as I possibly could, as I needed right about seven pounds. I had also never deboned a shoulder before. Oops!! Time to learn and fast. I started by hacking it into two halves, one with a bone and one without.
I chopped the boneless half right away to get it off the board. The marbling was so nice here. Pork fat makes a sausage taste good, you know!
I wrangled that bone as best I could, hacking bits off and tossing them into the tub, must have done pretty good with it, because by the time I was done with it, it was a little less than three quarter pound. So, in the long run, I still have about 7 lb of pork and pork fat. Sweet.
I have a tub of almost exactly 20 lb of meat here. I will be making up the difference for my 25lb recipe with the addition of 5 lb of ground chuck from the same cow who gave us those three lovely roasts.
The tub went into my stand-up freezer at this point. I want ice crystals on it, if I can. Cold meat is much easier to grind. Besides, I still had plenty to do. I needed to clean my work area and get the grinder down and set up. I also needed to mix up a giant bowl of seasonings, fermenter & cure. I scrubbed out the Thawing Tub with bleach to use to hold the ground, wiped down all the countertops and got the cutting board and knife into the wash.
The only other ingredients in my sausage - Starting in the upper left hand corner and working clockwise: Fermento, Powdered Dextrose, Insta Cure #1, Dry Mustard, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Coriander & Sea Salt.
Never use Iodized salt in sausage making. Always use Sea or Kosher.
If using Pepper, it really pays flavor wise to use fresh ground. This recipe calls for 2.5 TB of pepper. I have no time or patience to grind that much pepper, so I use a mortar and pestle instead.
Crunch-crunch-crunch. This smells so good, I wish I could tell you. You'd never use dry ground pepper again.
If you have never used Insta Cure #1 before, you might not realize, it REALLY is pink! The color is artificial and is to help ensure that it does not get used accidentally as regular "salt" in your kitchen. It is toxic in high amounts.
I prefer to weigh cure, rather than measure it, just to be safe, I need exactly one ounce to cure 25lb.
The seasonings, all mixed up. There is a TON of Fermento in here, and the powder mix is coming in at around four cups.
Once that was all done, I went back upstairs and got the meat out of the freezer. I also grabbed a bowl to grind into, a bowl of ice to set that bowl in, and the grinder's metal parts. I keep my grinder's metal parts in the freezer when they are not in use. You can actually see the frost on the grinder in the picture below.
I got the grinder all set up. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. This was my first run with the new grinder, having killed my old hand-me-down Oster earlier this summer. I used the big die for this initial grind. It will all get re-ground using a smaller die on Friday before going into the stuffer.
The new grinder worked like a dream. I could not get meat into the hopper fast enough. Due to the low tube height, I could not grind directly into my secondary tub, so I ground into the two low bowls you see above, and then as they filled, stopped to empty them and continue. It is worth noting that the big buttons on the side of the grinder can be operated with an elbow for on-and-off without contamination. :) Maybe next time, I will grind off the counter and into the tub on a chair or something.
25 lb of ground meat is a LOT in a tub. I don't think I could safely do a 50 lb batch. I just don't have the cooler or freezer space for it.
You can really tell that I used the wide die if you look at it. Thick ropes of ground up meat.
I poured the seasoning mix on top and begged my husband to come and mix for me. My hands just aren't big enough to get everything incorporated and I wanted to get to cleaning and bleaching everything. He was kind enough to do so. He did need a few splashes of ice water to get it all good and mixed in, probably less than a half a cup.
Once it was all mixed in, we tamped it down to eliminate air-pockets, covered it with a few thick layers of plastic wrap pressed onto the surface and slid it back into the fridge. It will stay there until Friday.
On Friday, I will re-grind the meat, cram it into my stuffer, and stuff the cellulose casings. The casings will get hung to dry, get smoked and hopefully will taste awesome! Wish me luck!!
Edited by Princess - 9/14/10 at 5:26am