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The origin of sausages is lost in the mists of time. Before any type of preservation was known, people realized that once an animal had been butchered and its main parts removed, much of what remained could be ground, salted and encased in the animal’s own cleaned intestines. As well as lasting much longer than traditional pieces of meat, the result was often tastier as well.
In the course of time, sausages then went on to become highly diversified according to the period and their country of production, so much so that today there are at least one hundred different variants to be found in various corners of the world.
Basically, however, the rules determining the making of good sausages, rather than a piece of flavourless ground meat, do not vary in the least.
What meat is sausage
Let’s start from the basics: what do we need to make sausages? Quite simply, meat, fat and salt.
In terms of aroma and flavour, meat is a strange commodity: if it comes from an animal that is put out to pasture, well fed with grass and free to run around, it is very tasty but also tougher.
If a tender morsel is what we seek, we will have a less pronounced flavour. Seen as sausages require ground meat and we can count on the fat content to increase its tenderness, it goes without saying that the ideal choice is tougher yet tastier meat.
So, for this reason, it is customary to choose pork shoulder or brisket. Let’s not forget that sausage is an economical form of meat and one of its salient characteristics is that of making the more affordable cuts tastier.
The role played by fats in sausage making
Now, here comes the tricky part: fat. Why is it difficult? Because it is generally seen as a by-product, if not waste, while in the case of sausages, it is the most important element. It adds tenderness, flavour and greatly contributes to its perfect preservation. But the amount of fat has to be carefully dosed.
There is no such thing as a perfect fat percentage because much depends on the type of meat being used but a range of 25-35% in weight is thought to be the most suitable when it comes to making perfect sausages.
Now, a pork cut considered to be “fatty”, such as belly of pork for instance, has a fat content of about 25%, and so it is often necessary to add additional fat. Waste fat is fine but if you aim at achieving an even better result, to your 25% you can add a further 5-10% of Italian lard. This will give a superlative flavour to your sausages.
Salt and spices
Finally, a few words about salt. Salt has inspired various metropolitan legends but the truth is that white salt is the best type for this purpose. And since it has to be mixed with the meat and fat, choose fine salt which dissolves faster and can be distributed much more effectively.
How much should be used? The percentage can vary to taste but in view of the fact that sausages need to be tasty, go for 2%.
Don’t even consider the absurd and faddish idea of making sausages without salt: apart from conferring flavour, salt is also used here to keep the meat compact, tender and succulent. To recap: 68% meat, 30% fat, 2% salt. Then, if you wish, you can add a few spices, such as black pepper, garlic and wild fennel.
How to make sausages at home
All we need to know now is how to make them. Cut the meat into pieces and add the salt, leaving it to rest for one day in the fridge so that it becomes tender. Now put it into the meat grinder with the fat and any spices you care to add. Grind the meat as finely or coarsely as you like. This is a question of personal choice but, generally speaking, sausage meat should be coarsely ground.
Finally, stuff the resulting mixture into the casings. There are accessories available which enable you to attach them directly to the meat grinder and stuff them more easily but, if you are patient enough, you can also do the job manually. When ready, these delicious sausages must be eaten up within three days. If you have a barbecue, use it and you won’t be sorry.
Are you craving for delicious recipes with sausage as the main ingredient? Take a look at our recipes channel on Fine Dining Lovers!