A couple of years ago my wife and I spent 2 weeks on a road trip through Germany. We had a great time during our vacation, and every restaurant in Germany we visited had some truly excellent sausages on the menu, however, delicious as they were, there were really only slight variations from sausage to sausage, area to area. The flavors were so familiar I felt I could have pulled almost any of these sausages off my grill back home. And it makes sense, seeing how much cultural heritage is shared between Germany and the USA.
After the vacation I set out to make sausages of my own. Not just to make a killer bratwurst, but I was inspired to make something unique that I couldn’t get anywhere else. So I bought a couple of books, a meat grinder, and did some research online and have been experimenting with fresh sausage making for almost a year now.
Here are some basic guidelines I use when creating a fresh sausage recipe:
- Take Notes! If you make a good recipe you want to be able to replicate it.
- Weigh everything using metric weight units. Using weights instead of tablespoon/teaspoon/cup means less guesswork. Also, using metric (grams & kilograms) keeps your math simple.
- 1.5% salt by weight of meat. Anything more than 2% salt by weight becomes too salty.
- 2-5% seasonings by weight. I start with 2-3% seasonings by weight when I come up with a new recipe, and adjust from there for the next batch.
- 2-10% liquid by weight. You can use any liquid you want – water, juice, liquor, beer, wine or any combination.
- Keep everything cool. Not only is this good food safety but it also helps keep the fat from melting.
Cochinita Pibil Sausage
This recipe is inspired Rick Bayless’ recipe for cochinita pibil. The spices and and citrus juices creates a very flavorful sausage without any need for extended marination and slow roasting called for of the original recipe.
- 2 Kg Ground Pork (90% lean, 10% fat)
- 30 g Salt
- 15 g Annato Seeds
- 5 g Oregano
- 5 g Black Pepper
- 2.5 g Cumin Seed
- 5 g Granulated Garlic
- 1 g Clove
- 1 g Dried Superhot Pepper (or to taste)
- 25 g Orange Juice
- 5 g Lime Juice
- Zest of 1 lime
- Sausage Casings
Trim the fat cap from your pork butt and set aside.
Debone the pork butt and cube both the lean pork and fat cap into 1”-2” pieces and place in the freezer. You will want the pork very cold but not frozen before grinding, about 30-45 minutes in the freezer..
While the pork is chilling, weigh your spices separately. Add your whole spices to your spice grinder and reduce to a uniform powder.
Grind the fat and lean pork separately. From experience I have had better results when I can control the amount of fat to lean meat in my finished sausage.
Add your desired ratio of fat and lean pork in a large mixing bowl with your spices and liquid.
Mix the pork by hand until the spices and liquid are fully incorporated and the meat becomes tacky.
Using your sausage stuffer fill your casings with the meat mix into your preferred lengths*. Using 32mm edible collagen casings with a length of about 5”, these sausages came in at about ¼ lb each. With the collagen casings you need to either tie off or leave about 1” of space between each link. The collagen casings won’t seal unto themselves by twisting the links like natural casings do.
Once stuffed, hang allow the sausage to dry for about an hour.
I like to grill my sausages, but you can bake, pan fry, or poach these. Just make sure you cook them fully (I go to an internal temp of 155 F).
*No meat grinder or sausage stuffer? Buy ground pork and form this into a meatloaf**.
**Don’t want to do a meatloaf? Lay down some plastic wrap and form the meat in to a log in the center , folding the plastic wrap over the meat on the long axis. Hold the ends of the plastic wrap and roll the sausage to twist the edges closed and tie off the ends. Gently poach the plastic wrapped meat in a water bath until internal temperature is reached. Remove your cooked meat from the plastic and sear the sausage in a pan or on the grill, whole or sliced into patties.
Sausage Mise En Place
Pibil seasonings weighed and ready
Frying up a sample – once it’s stuffed it’s too late to adjust
Thanks to my sister & brother-in-law for letting me take over their kitchen