Homemade sausages are soo rewarding and, folks, they only require nothing more than mince/ ground meat, seasonings, natural casings and a mincer although it is a simple task nowadays to get your meat minced by your butcher. How easy and wonderful, right?!
I did grow up making sausages at home every Christmas time with fresh meat, oh it was smelling in the air because everyone was making it. I used to LOVE IT and my parents will always ask for help with making these beauties. All such great memories.
We now, make sausages several times a year, whenever we fancy, smoke them if we want (we normally do as a form of preserving) portion them and freeze. We make small batches (2-3 kg or 4-6 lb of meat at the time to have for up to three months and then we make it again.
Making these homemade sausages is one of those lost activities and I am not sure why as it really is not so difficult as it sounds. At its heart, a sausage is solely ground meat, some fat (many times I don't even bother with that but I know my parents would tell me off if I try and cut that out), salt, and flavourings such as spices and dry herbs.
It really is not much more involved than grinding your own hamburger; you don’t even have to stuff it into links if you don’t want to and end up with something like these open sausages that we call mici.
How to make homemade sausages
A good sausage is all about balance, the balance of salt, amount of fat, spices and herbs. Knowing a proper ratio of salt to meat (and fat) is essential, but once you understand it you can adjust to your own preferences in terms of saltiness, which varies massively amongst people.
Sometimes adding some liquid helps tighten the bind when you mix the sausage meat which is important. The amount of fat is also important and as much as some argue that this should be, at least 20 per cent. I would say up to 20% - I really do not like them when they are too fatty. Sausages are guilty pleasures already but let's not make them total heart killers and keep them still on the healthier side. We have tried and made 5% fat sausages..... errrr, no! Too dry. Not worth it, if you make them yes, add some fat, it is essential.
So, beyond all these “house rules,” your ingredient list is limitless go wild with your imagination. You can toss in as few or as many flavourings and spices as well as herbs. What liquid to use? I would only recommend water or some wine 😜, nothing else!
Here's how to fill the casing - a pretty easy task I'd say especially if you have someone to help. We always make homemade sausages in two ;-), it is easier if one handles pushing the meat into the casing and the other person (the expert 😜 ) who will be responsible for handling the sausages😅 so these do get into the casing in the right shape, not too thick, not too thin, without air bubbles and so on. 🤗 Making sausages is a bit of an art, I admit, the more you make the better you will become.
What is the point of making sausages at home when you can buy them ready-made, you may ask? Well, unless you have a good source where they are homemade, you cannot compare any shop-bought sausages with the homemade ones. The preservatives, powders that we don't know, nitrates and god knows what else they have in them are simply not worthy, I might as well forget about sausages altogether. Home cooking anything in general and sausages, in particular, has no comparison really. It is a rewarding experience, it's fun, the laugher you can have making sausages, togetherness, time to feel Christmas is coming (it was for me as a kid for sure) but most importantly, you know EXACTLY what you are eating!
How to store homemade sausages
If you make a larger quantity (we always do min 3kgs/6lbs meat) and we cook some freshly. The remaining ones we divide into portions, wrap in some absorbent paper (only if they are dry) and place them in bags and freeze. They are ok to be frozen for up to 3 months although because of the higher fat content they should be consumed within 2 months. So make little and more often to get the best fresh taste.
How to smoke homemade sausages
The smoky flavour is more effectively given when sausages are smoked while raw. Meats will start to cook at 50°C or 120°F so the cold smoking process should take place at temperatures that are below 30°C or 85°F. It is important to keep the temperature in the smoking chamber as low as possible and in principle the longer you cold smoke, the more intense the smoky flavour will be.
You can hang your sausages in your smoking chamber, on rods making sure these don't touch one another. We don't actually have a designated smoker as such but our BBQ is designed to serve as a smoker too, so we just lay the sausages out on wire racks. This can leave a crosshatch of light marks on the casing where the smoke will not be able to take hold. Not an issue, there is a solution to this, quite a simple one. To reduce the impact of the marks, simply turn the sausages every now and then. Problem solved, besides, we don't even mind these marks 😜.
We just burn some coconut and walnuts shells, little by little so the temperature doesn't rise to a cooking point. I will put up a video as soon as I will be getting one done.
Note: Remember, your sausages need to be hung prior to smoking so that these can dry. This can be done in a smoking chamber just before smoking them (if smoking these at all).
How to cook sausages
There are a few ways sausages can be cooked:
- Grilled - definitely, a great winter method when BBQ isn't an option get the grill pan out and grill for as long as 20 min turning them on both sides until cooked all the way to the middle;
- BBQ'd - my favourite method if I am honest - it is the best - depending on how thick or thin they are, bbq on both sides until they are cooked all the way to the centre.
- Pan cooked - 15-20 min with a little water to start with on medium fire. Ideally covered with a lid halfway through and then uncovered.
- Baked - not longer than 30 min at 180-190C /375F. You may also cook with vegetables cut into chunks.
Mix and match any meat you may like, if you cannot or don't like pork, substitute this with lamb, veal, any game meat you may like or eat. The idea is that you need to choose a lean cut and a slightly fattier one to it counterbalances and the sausages are not to try. I personally do not like to use more than 25-30 %fat content but you can go 50-50.
Serve with some nice mashed potatoes and a yummy gravy and some seasonal baked vegetables, make some nice Yorkshire puddings, or why not use these for best ever one pan English breakfast. It is not a bad idea, to use a small casing and use these sausages to make some homemade sausage rolls. A plethora of ideas really to choose from.
Other Recipes you may like and homemade sausages can be a great addition to:
- Haricot beans salad with yacon and sweet Marmande tomatoes
- One-pan curried wild rice, red quinoa
- Potato sausage and Parmesan cheese bake
- English breakfast in a pot in a flash
Let's get on with the stuffing, let's have some fun!
Easy Homemade Sausages
- mincer with funnels
- large pot or bowl
- 5 m sausage casing natural
- 3 kg minced meat (6lb) 20% fat (pork and beef 60/40) *
- 1 cup water or white wine (optional)*
- 3 tbsp dry herbs thyme, rosemary
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp chilly flakes or 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper powder
- 20 g salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
- Meat and equipment should be super cold so place meats in the freezer for at least 1 -1½ hours. This should be very firm but not frozen. Place all meat grinder parts in the freezer and refrigerate the mixing bowl at least 30 min prior to using them.
- Rinse the casing well to remove all salt and run warm water all the way through the casing. Place the casing and soak in warm water (30-40°C or 90-100˚F) for at least 1 hour prior to using these. They should be soaked until they are super soft and slick. Keep casings in water until ready to use as it is easier to use them while wet.
- Remove 1/2 of meat from the freezer and with a sharp knife dice into thick chunks. Place into your chilled mixing bowl. Chop all the remaining meat into approximately 2" (4cm) pieces so these can easily go through the meat grinder. Set up your meat grinder and if using KitchenAid set it to speed 4 using the large holes grinding plate. Grind the meat alternating with the fat if you have these separate.
- Sprinkle all the seasonings (salt, pepper, dried herbs, chilli flakes, cumin and coriander powder) over meat. I suggest using gloves so your hands will not freeze but also help to maintain the meat cool. Toss all meat with seasonings for about 1 minute. Add 1 cup cold water or white wine and mix meat by hand for another minute until the mixture binds to so that can hold a patty shape.Seasoning Tip! To test your meat for seasoning, make a small patty or two (if you are hungry 😉 haha) and cook it in a skillet to sample.
- You have two options here: a) oil lightly the outside of your sausage tube attachment - do not tie the end, not yetb) push through some meat until it starts to come out for about 1 inch. If you chose this you can tie the end as all air has been pushed out. Thread the 1st sausage casing over the tube leaving a long enough tail hanging off the end. If any air bubbles form, don't worry, these aren't an issue as you can prick the sausage to get rid of those.
- Remove ground/minced meat from the fridge. Here it comes the teamwork. I always need hubby or one of the kids here to push the meat through and I make sure I look after the casing to make sure sausage comes out ok. It is a little easier and you could manage on your own if using an electric KitchenAid gadget which you can set on speed 4 and add meat into the hopper, pushing down with the plunger and adding more as you go. You will be able to use one hand to stuff the meat and the other to handle the sausage -let the sausage come out in one long coil, you will make links later.
- The sausages should not be overly stuffed especially if you intend to make links. When you almost reach the end leave a minimum of 6 inches or 15 cm of 'tail' - long enough to work with and tie at the end after making the links. Thread the second casing and repeat until all meat has been stuffed.
- Pinch and spin to make the links. With two hands, pinch off what will become two links, Work the links so they are pretty tight. Spin it towards you several times. Continue this way, alternating, until you get to the end of the coil. Tie off the other end.
- You may also leave the sausages in a coil (I normally do both links and coil) and pan cook, bake or grill. Freeze the rest for later use. Prick them if you see any air pockets so they do not burst when cooking.
- Hang the sausages and ensure that the casings are dry before smoking (if choosing to smoke them). If you have smoking chambers transfer the sausages in there and hang those on some rods. Open all the vents to create as much airflow as possible. Bring a fan otherwise. This will take a good couple of hours (fan assisted) or more (6-8h). Once dry you can get on with smoking them. (See more on smoking in the recipe).