Sausages are so diverse. You can just about take any meat and make a sausage out of it. A lot of the time, butchers like to do a combination of meats to make a great sausage. They are pretty darn good at it too. There is some incredible stuff out there. As first time sausage makers, we decided to keep it simple and just stick to one meat, pork. Of course, we have ground meat before. Thanks to Zach’s mom and her gift of a glorious professional Kitchenaid for Zach’s birthday last year (with many cool attachments included), this has made the grinding process a whole lot easier than using a food processor (which can be done folks – don’t worry). And thanks to my parents for the fun coupon to Williams-Sonoma, we now have a sausage stuffer attachment. We had all the materials we needed, so why not? I’m not sure why it took us so long to get to this point, but we were finally ready to stuff some sausage! Sausage Sandwiches with Pulled Pork and Mozzarella was our first attempt!
I did mention this in the actual recipe, but if stuffing sausages isn’t in the cards for you, don’t fret. You can get the same great flavor out of leaving it out of the casing and just baking it. Just bake the sausage in a covered 9x13in baking dish at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. You of course won’t get a great sandwich out of it, but you will get some great sausage for pasta! I find it also important to make sure you have the right equipment before you even begin. Grinding meat can be done in a variety of ways. If you have a food processor you are one step closer, and I’m sure most of you have one of these. Also, stuffing sausage is no easy task. We learned this the hard way last night…
It takes technique and a ton of patience. I have lacked both of these traits in the past, and last night was no different. Thank God Zach has a bit more patience than I do! I really really wanted cubes of cheddar cheese in our links. Key word is “I.” Zach was indifferent. Case in point, we should have skipped the cheddar cheese. As we were stuffing the sausages, the cubes of cheese kept clogging the exit of the stuffer. In hindsight, I guess I should have cut the cubes just a tad bit smaller. Please note that I did leave the cheddar cheese in the recipe. I did however mention to cut them into 1/8 in pieces. I cut mine bigger than that unfortunately. Even though it was a big pain in the butt, it was worth the pain…so delicious.=) If you want to be annoyed and frustrated, then go for the cheddar!
* Please Note * This recipe takes a day or two. We find it very important that after you grind the meat and mix everything together, that you let the flavors meld together. This takes longer than just an hour or two. You really need to let it go for at least 10 hours or you’re just not going to get the same flavor. This is why there is so much “prep time” in the recipe. There is a ton of inactive time. Also, the pulled pork takes longer. Pulled pork needs some time. You want the meat tender and not tough, so when I say it will take quite a few hours to “cook,” it’s not like you’re actually doing the cooking. It’s just sitting in a slow cooker =). Don’t let the times scare you!
I have to say, that for our first sausage attempt, we were pretty darn successful at it. It took some trial and error, but we got it done. These sausages are so delicious. We froze most of them, but made them for dinner last night. We couldn’t have been more pleased. They’re packed full of flavor and topped with some delicious ingredients. I would like to offer an attempt at a substitution however. I really wanted to use cheese curds on top of the sausage. Who knew that cheese curds would be so hard to find!? They go so well with BBQ and are so creamy and soft that they just melt in your mouth. If you can get your hands on them; first: well, I’m completely jealous, and second: substitute them for the mozzarella. The mozzarella did the trick, but cheese curds would be so much better.
I guess what everyone is asking at this point: what do we pair these sausages with? Well there are plenty of options. Sausage and beer should just get married since they go so well together. We went with an amber ale. We used a local brewery with Crystal Springs and their South Ridge Amber Ale. If you live in the Boulder, CO area, you will be able to get this brew. They are pretty small at the moment, so getting it out of the area may be difficult. The rich, caramel flavors of this beer compliment the sausages so well. Sweet and subtle: the perfect match. Any great amber ale will do though. Use your imagination and explore the local bottle shop. You can find some pretty incredible brews. Besides South Ridge, you could go with Green Flash’s Hop Head Red or Bells Debs Red Ale. Either one will be a great substitution!
Well we hope we haven’t scared you away from trying to make sausages. Although not the easiest thing in the world to make, it’s really not that bad! And if you’re that nervous about it, start with a sausage without the casing. It will get you one step further, and you will still get the same great flavor.