Breakfast Sausage. It’s not just a good way to begin the day, but also a good way to begin my sausage-making career. Or so says my Home Sausage Making book.
I think my desire to make sausage came out of trips to The Linkery, a San Diego restaurant that specializes in having local, fresh, ingredients. While the food there is generally good (despite the small portions and sometimes questionable service), what really has stood out to me are the sausages: every one I’ve had there has been excellent, with my favorite being the Kasekrainer in all its cheesy-spicy glory. (As an aside, perhaps the Linkery should open a new restaurant that really does focus on its namesake.)
My first step on the path to Kasekrainer home reproduction is to follow the beginning sausage recipe in the book: Breakfast Sausage. Not knowing where I could source intestines locally, I turned to The Sausage Source on the internets. There I found sheep casings (smaller, used for breakfast sausage), hog casings (larger, for italian sausage), and curing salts (needed for pepperoni).
I knew exactly where to find the pork butt and lard: Northgate Gonzalez Market! This is an Hispanic grocery store in San Diego (“south of the 94”) that has an awesome meat counter with an appetite-inspiring panoply of pork products.
The sausage adventure began auspiciously enough with breaking down the pork into 3/4″ chunks. About 20% of the sausage is the lard, also cut into chunks. These are then frozen so they maintain their texture through the grinding process. I got out about 4 feet of sheep casing use. The casing is packed in salt to keep it “fresh”, and taking it out caused a blizzard of intestine-scented salt to overtake the counter. Yummy.
The initial grinding went well, as did the spicing of the sausage. Of course it was a bit messy mixing it all together.
The process really slowed down on the second griding, because the sausage mixture was so finely ground that it stuck to everything, including the tool I was using to push it into the grinder.
After that I had to figure out how to open up the casings and slide them over the stuffing shoot. This was at once tricky, slimey, and smelly.
Once that was done then the stuffing began. Amanda helped hold the links as I operated the Kitchenaid. It also went slow at first because of the stickiness of the mixture. But once I got angry and started shoving things into the machine with more force then it was smooth sailing.
Most of the way through I ran out of casings. This is because I failed to realize that 4 feet of casings from the package will make less than 4 feet of links because when it expands to accept the meat then it shrinks in length. Oh well! Then I ended up with some sausage patties.
I twisted the sausage into links, which caused a couple of them to burst. Then I cut the twist points which caused further leakage from the end of the links (contrary to what I was led to believe by my trusty book!).
But none of that matters because the taste was excellent. We made breakfast tacos with the sausage to start things off. It had a great rich flavor. The spicing was perhaps too heavy–I had used a heavy hand when making the sausage because I was worried it wasn’t enough, but this was one place where I should have followed the recipe.
This past weekend we also had breakfast sausage in a more traditional setting, alongside eggs and english muffins. That was also excellent, and portends well for my future sausagemaking endeavors.
And what might those be you may ask? Well I’m gearing up for my fully homemade pizza, which would include italian sausage and pepperoni. Pepperoni needs to age in the fridge for months, so Amanda will love that. Lard and intestines have never brought me so much joy…