You’ve seen the slaughter. And still you crave the pork. Here’s my attempt at teaching how to make link sausage.
1. Harvest the intestines. Find the small intestines, and cut out as much as you need. There’s surely more than 40 feet of ‘em in there, so you ought to have plenty. I personally cut off about 10 feet and squeeze all the mess out one end, after which I cut the intestines into sections about 1 1/2 – 2 feet long. [I'm not sure on this, but it seems a 2 foot section of casing will hold about 2 1/2 pounds of sausage.]
harvesting small intestines
2. Do an initial cleaning of the intestines. If you have the luxury of a water hose and running water at the slaughter site, it’d probably be easier to remove bits of excrement by pumping water through the intestines. I’d do that before cutting the intestines into smaller sections. We don’t have those luxuries where we slaughter (welcome to rural Tanzania), so I clean the intestines by turning them inside-out and rinsing them good.
3. Leave the intestines soaking overnight in salt water in the fridge. [Right side-out -- there's really no need to turn them inside-out again... if you ever needed to in the first place.]
4. Clean the intestines again at a kitchen sink, this time being careful to remove the fat and mucosa that is attached. You can remove a pretty thick layer of this stuff on both the inside and outside of the submucosa, which is the thin, mostly collagen, portion you’ll actually use for the sausage casing.
To remove the fat and such, use a knife and cutting board to scrape the side of the intestines long ways. I find it easiest to remove the outside portion first (once you get it started, you can mostly peel it off with your fingers). Then, without turning them inside out, scrape the intestines again, and the inside layer will break up so that you can press it out one of the ends. The intestines are quite strong, and you can scrape them really good without worry of their breaking. [If you want to make chitlins, I'm pretty sure you leave all that fat and stuff on -- though I've never tried. Also, you can use the removed fat and mucosa to cook with if you so desire.]
scraping to remove fat and mucosa
When finished you should have a very thin intestine that resembles a balloon, though not quite as stretchy.
removed fat on left, finished casings on right
5. Run water through the intestines to make sure they’re clean of all excess fat and such. Also make sure they’re water-tight. Some people hold one end while blowing through them to ensure air-tightness, but I thought that was kind of gross.
checking for holes or bulges -- and removing any last bits of fat
6. Grind the pork. Some people grind the belly along with other more meaty sections to ensure they’ve got enough fat in their sausage. I, however, remove the back fat from the pig and grind it apart from my good meat. That way I know exactly what proportion of fat to meat I am using in each type of sausage.
all the pork ingredients of our sausage: meat, fat, and casings
7. Mix the ground meat and fat, and add spices. Most sausages call for at least 1 part fat to 4-5 parts meat. Some call for a 1:2 ratio. I think I’ve even heard of sausages at 1:1. I use different ratios for different types of sausage. I’ll probably post some of “my” recipes soon.
work station with ingredients and recipes
8. Fry up a little of the sausage in patty form in order to make sure you’ve got the taste right. Add any spices you’re lacking, and taste again. I would advise going light on flavor before the first tasting. You can always add spices, but you can’t take them back once they’re mixed in.
Many recipes I found call for way too much salt. Maybe when sausage is on a biscuit it needs more salt? But I can’t enjoy my sausage the way these recipes suggested, biscuit or not.
9. Tie a knot in one end of the casing, and slide it onto the end of a funnel (or there are attachments for meat grinders, mixers, and the like). You’ll need to bunch up the end and hold it there while you fill the funnel with sausage.
casing on the funnel
10. Use the handle-end of a wooden spoon (or anything else that fits) to push the sausage into the casing. You can stuff the entire casing, twisting it into links — or you can make individual links as you go. Try to push out any air pockets as you go, and tie the loose end when finished.
stuffing the casing with sausage
11. Put the finished product in the freezer or straight into the skillet. When you’re cooking the sausage, start with a cold pan and cook on low (at least in the beginning). If you start at too high a temperature, the casing can burst. Obviously, make sure you’ve cooked the pork well before eating. And enjoy.