12 Days of Gifts continues with Sweet Italian Sausage.
Sweet Italian Sausage
8 lbs whole muscle game meat, cut into 1” cubes
2 lbs pork fat, cut into 1” cubes
WESTON sausage seasoning
WESTON hog casings
Place the cubed fat on a large plate or baking sheet in your freezer until it begins to harden, but don’t let it freeze all the way through. Put the cubed meat in your fridge to cool it off. You want everything nice and cold so that it’s on the verge of painful to handle it. Meanwhile, set up your meat grinder according to the manufacturer’s instructions and soak the natural hog casings (if using) in lukewarm water. Once the casings are pliable, change the water and give them another soak for 20 – 30 minutes. Then fit one end of each casing over the kitchen faucet and run a cup or two of water into the casing. Push the water all the way through, to rinse the inside of the casing. Set aside in clean water until ready to use.
Combine the chilled cubed meat and pork fat with the Weston seasoning mix (1 Tbl/1 lb of meat). Mix thoroughly by hand for two minutes.
Fill a tub with ice and place the bowl of meat inside the tub to keep it cool. Using the coarse grinder plate, grind the meat mixture into another bowl that’s set over ice. Change the die to the fine grinder plate and grind again. (This will create a finely ground fresh sausage. If you like a little more texture to your sausage, simply pass the meat twice through the coarse grinder instead of changing plates.) Cover and refrigerate while you set up your sausage stuffer. The sausage can also be stuffed into 1-pound poly bags as bulk sausage.
Fill the hopper of your sausage stuffer with the sausage mixture, and fit the stuffer tube with a cleaned casing. Start pushing meat through the stuffer to clear any air in the stuffer tube. Before meat enters the casing, tie the end with a simple granny knot. Working slowly, stuff the sausage into the casings. Be careful not to overstuff, and expel any large air bubbles inside the casing by pricking it with a sewing needle. When filled, tie off the casing with another granny knot. To create links: make two creases in the casing, one 5” from the end and another at 10” from the end. Twist the sausage at these two creases about eight times. Now you have two links. Make two more creases at 5” intervals and spin these. Continue down the length of the casing. To separate the individual links, gently pull the links apart and snip the middle of the “twist” with a pair of scissors or knife.