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The Sausage Shanty


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Equipment  Ingredients   Seasonings
Sanitation   Processing - The Casings
Processing - Grinding & Stuffing  Recipes  Links


Basic Equipment

Aside from the usual equipment found in most kitchens, you need a food grinder with a sausage stuffing attachment. They cost between $30 to $110. Hand meat grinders come in six sizes: 5, 8, 10, 12, 22 and 32. The first four clamp to a table; the last two are bolted to a board. Most grinders come with a cutting knife and two grinding plates, usually 3/16" and either 3/8" or 1/2". There should also be one to three stuffing tubes in the following sizes: 1/2", 3/4" and 1".

For those who are just beginning or simply experimenting, the $30 version will be just fine. If fact, for the first batch, you can get by without a grinder, although the sausage will be patties instead of links. Ask a butcher to grind you 2½ pounds of pork butt mixed with a ½ pound of pork fat. Mix the seasonings thoroughly with the ground meat, form into patties, refrigerate overnight and freeze any that are not consumed.

We have a few links to vendors of sausage making resourses, equipment and supplies in the links section. Currently we only have four. More to come.

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Ingredients

Almost any variety of raw meats can be used, though pork is, by far, the most popular. The meat is ground and stuffed into either hog or sheep intestines, which have been cleaned thoroughly and packed in salt, or into man-made collagen casings. The diameter of the casing will depend the kind of sausage being made. Small sausages, breakfast links and hot dogs, are stuffed into sheep or small hog casings. Regular hog casings are used for most kinds of sausage, especially Italian and Kielbassa. Large sausage is stuffed into beef casings, which range between 2½ to 4 inches.

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Seasonings

The choice of seasonings depends on the kind of sausage your making and your personal tastes. Among the most common are listed below.

Salt

Black Pepper

Rubbed Sage

Powdered Thyme

Crushed Red Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

White Pepper

Sugar

Summer Savory

Ground Ginger Root

Basil

Marjoram

Chili Powder

Dextrose

Garlic

Onion

Parsley

Paprika

Nutmeg

Fennel Seeds

Wine

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Sanitation

When handling meat, especially pork and any sausage, strict adherence to sanitation is vital due to food poisoning and trichinosis. The prep and cooking areas must be clean; all utensils must be washed in hot water in an anti-bacterial detergent. Remove all rings and scrub your hands frequently while processing. If you have to take an extended break, put the meat and the grinder in the refrigerator.

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Processing - The Casings

Cut off four-or five-foot sections of casing. The number will depend on how much meat you have and the diameter of the casings. Rinse the casings under cool running water. Slip one end over the faucet and run cool water slowly through it to clear out the salt. Gradually increase the pressure, which will clear out more salt and help detect small holes. Place the casings in a bowl of cool water with a tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of water. This will soften the casings and make them more transparent. If the casings aren't properly softened by soaking, it may be difficult to slip them over the stuffing tube without splitting them. It is good idea to prepare the casings the night before and soak them overnight. Just before using, give the casings a final rinse.

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Processing - Grinding & Stuffing

Bone the meat unless you are using a boneless cut. Very cold meat and fat will be easier to cut into cubes, and will be less likely to gum up the grinder. Cut the meat up into 1-inch cubes. Cut any fatback into ½-inch cubes. Weight the meat and prepare the seasonings. The seasoning cannot be measured until you know how much meat you have. Mix the dry seasonings thoroughly with the meat. If liquids are called for, they are added after all the dry seasoning are mixed. Grind the meat through a  grinding plate of a size appropriate to the kind of sausage you are making or to your personal taste.

Run the cubed meat and fat through the grinder. Add the seasonings and mix the meat and seasonings thoroughly. Place the stuffing attachment onto the grinder. Rub a little fat over the stuffing tube to lubricate it. Gather all of the casing onto the stuffer until the end of the casing is in line with the spout of the stuffer.

Place the ground meat into the grinder (no knive or grinding plate) and turn the crank until the meat reaches the spout of the stuffer. Pull a couple inches of casing of the stuffer and tie the end with a simple over-hand knot. Keep adding meat slowly until all is used. Don't over pack the casings and try to avoid air pockets. Should any occur, prick the casing with a needle to let the air out. Tie off the other end of the casing. For breakfast links, give the sausage three or four twists, then cut at the twists with a sharp knife after the sausage has dried.

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Recipes

Breakfast Sausage, Roadkill Inn 'Possum Sausage, Roadkill Inn
Italian Sausage - Sweet Venison Beef Sausage
flame.gif (21280 bytes)  Italian Sausage - Hot flame.gif (21280 bytes) Venison Pork Sausage
'Possum Haggis, Retched Family  

Strodes-Style Breakfast Sausage, Roadkill Inn

35 - 38  mm hog casings 1 teaspoon ground thyme
4 ½ lbs. pork butt 1½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound veal 3 tablespoons dextrose, OR
½ lb. fatback 2½ tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt 1 tablespoon flour
1½ teaspoons black pepper 3 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons sage 5 ounces ice water mixed with the brandy

Prepare the casings by soaking overnight. Chop the pork into 1-inch cubes. Remove the rind from the fatback and chop into ½-inch dice.  Weigh the meat to determine how much seasonings are needed. Mix the dry seasonings, adjusted for any weight variation from 3 pounds and distribute evenly over the meat. Grind pork, fatback.   Sprinkle the seasonings over the ground meat and mix thoroughly with your hands, then add the brandy and water mixture and mix.

Form a small sample patty and panfry it. Allow it to cool a bit and taste. Adjust seasonings, if needed, by mixing the adjustments with another tablespoon of flour. Sprinkle over the top of the meat and mix. Stuff into casings, or form into patties and refrigerate overnight. Pan fry in a skillet. Don't expect the links or patties to shrink like commercial sausage; they won't. Freeze any sausage that will not be used within 48 hours. Back to Ye Olde Roadkill Inn Page.

Note: For cooking links, try simmering them in water for about 15 minutes, then brown slowly in a buttered skillet. This way the sausage will be thoroughly cooked without over-browning or burning the casings. Use a flame tamer or heat diffuser when frying patties.

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Venison Beef Sausage

Because wild game is very lean, fat from another source should be added, usually beef or pork, to produce a decent sausage. What follows is the our beef version and our son, Dave's. preference.

4-to 5-foot of hog casings 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
4 lbs. venison ½ teaspoon powdered thyme
¾ pound beef cut from the chuck ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ pound beef suet 1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon black pepper 3 tablespoons Laird's Applejack

Chop the venison and chuck into 1-inch cubes. Chop the suet into ½-inch dice. Weigh the meat to determine how much seasonings are needed. Mix the dry seasonings, adjusted for any weight variation from 5 pounds. Grind venison, chuck, suet and seasonings using a coarse grinding plate (usually ½ inch).  With your hands, mix the applejack with the first-grind meat. Finally run the mixture through the grinder again using a finer grinding plate (should be 3/16 inch for breakfast sausage links).

Form a small sample patty and panfry it. Allow it to cool a bit and taste. Adjust seasonings, if needed, by mixing the adjustments with 1 tablespoon of flour. Sprinkle over the top of the meat and mix thoroughly. Stuff into hog or sheep casings, or form into patties. Pan fry in a skillet. Freeze any sausage that will not be used within 24 hours. Back to Game Page Roadkill Index

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Venison Pork Sausage

Because wild game is very lean, fat from another source should be added, usually beef or pork, to produce a decent sausage. What follows is the pork version and our preference.

4-to 5-foot of hog casings 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
4 lbs. venison ½ teaspoon powdered thyme
¾ pound pork cut from the butt ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ pound fatback 1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon black pepper 3 tablespoons Laird's Applejack

Chop the venison and pork into 1-inch cubes. Weigh the meat to determine how much seasonings are needed. Mix the dry seasonings, adjusted for any weight variation from 5 pounds. Grind venison, pork, fatback and seasonings using a coarse grinding plate (usually ½ inch).  With your hands, mix the applejack with the first-grind meat. Finally run the mixture through the grinder again using a finer grinding plate (should be 3/16 inch for breakfast sausage links).

Form a small sample patty and panfry it. Allow it to cool a bit and taste. Adjust seasonings, if needed, by mixing the adjustments with 1 tablespoon of flour. Sprinkle over the top of the meat and mix thoroughly. Stuff into hog or sheep casings, or form into patties. Pan fry in a skillet. Freeze any sausage that will not be used within 24 hours. Back to Game Page Roadkill Index.

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flame.gif (21280 bytes) Italian Sausage - Hot flame.gif (21280 bytes)

5 feet hog casings 3 large garlic cloves, minced
4¼ pounds pork butt meat 4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
¾ pound fatback 3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
4 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black pepper ¾ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon ground coriander

Chop the pork into 1-inch cubes. Remove the rind from the fatback and chop into ½-inch dice. Weigh the meat to determine how much seasonings are needed. Mix the dry seasonings, adjusted for any weight variation from 5 pounds. Grind pork, fatback and seasonings using a coarse grinding plate (usually ½ inch). Sprinkle the wine over the mixture and mix again with your hands. Finally run the mixture through the grinder again using a finer grinding plate (should be either 3/8-inch or 3/16-inch, depending on how coarse you like your sausage).

Form a small sample patty and panfry it. Allow it to cool a bit and taste. Adjust seasonings, if needed, by mixing the adjustments with 1 tablespoon of flour. Sprinkle over the top of the meat and mix. Cover the mixture and refrigerate overnight. Stuff into hog casings, or form into patties. Refrigerate stuffed sausage for 8 hours before cooking or freezing. Poke holes in the sausage right before cooking to allow the fat to escape. Simmer for 15 minutes, pan fry in olive oil in a skillet. Freeze any sausage that will not be used within 24 hours. Back to Roadkill Index.

Italian Sausage - Sweet

About 5 foot of medium hog casings 1 teaspoon black pepper
3 pound pork butt ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¾ pound fatback 1/8 teaspoon allspice
4 gloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons fennel seeds ½ cup red wine
4 teaspoons kosher salt

See the preceding recipe for Italian Sausage - Hot for preparation. Back to Roadkill Index.

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'Possum Sausage, Roadkill Inn

possum.gif (9076 bytes)Cute little bugger, ain't he. To make this, you have to rise before sunrise, drive along country roads to find roadkill 'possum before the crows, buzzards or other varmints do. It will take about two critters to produce the four-pounds of meat this recipe calls for. Often you will find two 'possums at one roadkill. When a 'possum stumbles on one of his dead buddies, he starts to feed, then he gets flattened by the next vehicle. With a little luck he'll get waffled quickly, so he won't have time to eat very much of the first 'possum. Try to avoid collecting any that have deep tire marks from SUVs on them, or any that are really flattened out. Be sure to trim all the fat off the 'possum meat and replace it with pork fat. When Jack Daniels and 'possum fat are mixed the 'possum fat curdles and emits a  noxious odor when cooked.

Preceding the next recipe, there's an introduction to 'possum hunting for those who are squeamish about eating roadkill. Unfortunately it requires 'possum hounds. The only place I could find where 'possum hounds are still bred and trained is in Knuckles Junction, Kentucky.

15 feet 35-38 mm hog casings 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
4 pound lean 'possum meat 2 teaspoons powdered thyme
1 pound fatback 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
3 teaspoons Kosher salt 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons rubbed sage ¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper 2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper ½ cup Jack Daniels

Grind the meat and and seasonings as described above for Venison Pork Sausage. Stuff the meat into hog casings, link every 4 inches and refrigerate overnight. Freeze any than will not  be eaten within two days.

What follows is the classic entrée for 'possum sausage. Sauté the sausage links in a skillet and reserve. In the same skillet, make a medium Béchamel sauce. Cut the sausage into bite-size pieces and return to the skillet. Serve the Béchamel sauce and sausage over hot biscuits. Accompany with a cup of steaming coffee fortified with a shot of Jack Daniels. If you think 'possum sausage is good, try the next recipe, 'possum haggis. Back to the index.

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'Possum Haggis, Retched Family

From The Retched Family Cookbook

Colonial 'Possum  Huntin' From The MacSlug Family Journal

'Possum haggis originated on Town Bank's craggy highland tors on the Jersey Cape, which the misinformed call sand dunes. It was a New England Town favorite among the early settlers in the late 1600s and was traditionally made right after the first killing frost, which killed the round worms in the 'possum's intestinal tract, and before the right whales entered the Delaware Bay. While the 'possum meat was made into sausage, haggis utilized other parts of the critter. Waste not, want not in New England Town.

We're not acquainted with any Cape May natives who still make 'possum haggis. We have learned, however, that the name was changed in the early 19th century, if not earlier, from 'possum haggis to stuffed 'possum belly. In the early 1900s, stuffed 'possum belly was a favorite among Cape May County's more discriminating families and offered at better restaurants in the winter.

Since the whaler-yeomen's wagons were not equipped with headlights, good roadkill, as we know it today, was very scarce. Not to be denied their haggis, the erstwhile settlers hunted Br'er 'Possum with 'possum hounds. Actually 'possum hounds were nothing more than intellectually-challenged fox hounds, which were imported from England to chase the equally dimwitted marsupial.

The autumn 'possum hunts were as much social events as hunts. Typically a hunt began two-hours before dark with a gathering of the hunters and much toasting. After dark the 'possums climbed down from their trees and the hounds were loosed. As soon as the first dog found fresh scent and bayed, all the hunters shouted, "tally ho the possum", downed a flagon of home-brewed ale, and after refilling their flagons for the hunt, followed the hounds o'er tor and dale on foot.

After the 'possum was treed, the designated hunter, who could not imbibe until after the hunt, would shoot the critter out of the tree with the aid of light from a whale-oil lantern. The rest of the group kept the hounds from eating the 'possum before it could be placed in the game bag. An entry in Malcolm MacSlug's family journal claims the town record of five 'possum on the night of November 15 1693. MacSlug's journal also indicated that the hunters consumed twenty-pound of 'possum sausage, ten loaves of bread and one-and one-half-hogsheads of ale during the pre-hunt festivities, the actual hunt and the celebration that followed -- also a town record. According to MacSlug, Goodwife Retched, from whom we got the recipe, had to wheel her husband, Iza, home in MacSlug's wheelbarrow. What's amazing is that Iza Retched had been the designated shooter and got off to a slow start. Lordie, that man must have really loved his ale.

In New England Town, 'possum haggis was traditionally served on the eve of the Samhain quarter festival. Visitors were offered 'possum haggis and ale as they went from house to house. The well to do in New England Town, however, offered single-malt whisky in place of ale. Being able to offer visitors whisky was a village status symbol and a must for those seeking public office. While the festival has since evolved into Halloween, the traditional 'possum haggis and hearty, highly-hopped home-brewed ale is no longer offered on the Jersey Cape.

Single-malt scotch was very scarce on the Jersey Cape in the late 1600s.  In fact, it still was in the early 1980s. Goody Retched suggested substituting rum or ale when whiskey was not available. Her collection also had a recipe for right whale sausage, but it continued on another index card, which is missing from the family collection.

All we know is that it lists 25-pounds of meat from the right whale, 5-pounds of blubber, 15-feet of thoroughly cleaned right whale casings, 1-quart of molasses, 2-pounds of salt and a half-cup of thyme. There were probably more ingredients and instructions for grinding, stuffing and curing the sausage, but that regrettably, is gone forever. Even the highly valued Atlantic right whales of the 17th and 18th century are almost extinct and no longer enter the bay. Meanwhile, at least the Retched family recipe for 'possum haggis survived, thanks to Yeoman Iza Retched's wife. What a yeowoman she must have been. Return to New England Town.

1 'possum stomach 1 teaspoon salt
1 'possum liver ¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 'possum heart ¼ cup oatmeal
1 set 'possum kidneys 1 small onion
1 set 'possum sweetbreads (pancreas and thymus) ¼ cup single-malt Macallam or Glenmorangie whisky
¼ pound fatback equal parts of milk and water
salt for soaking stomach Optional for Italian 'possum haggis:
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Clean the stomach and soak it in heavily salted water overnight. Cook the heart and kidneys for 1 hour; cool and trim away the pipes and gristle. Cut the heart, kidneys, liver, sweetbreads and fatback into chunks. Mix the organs and fat with the rest of the dry ingredients and run through a meat grinder using a ¼-inch plate. Add the single-malt scotch to the mixture and work it in with your hands. Stuff the mixture into the stomach, allowing room for the oatmeal to expand. Sew up the opening with cotton twine. Place the stuffed 'possum belly into a pot with enough water and milk to cover. Prick the stomach here and there as soon as it begins to swell. Simmer for 4 hours. Serve the 'possum haggis with twelve-year-old Macallam in a brandy snifter with ice water on the side. Back to the index New England Town.

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