Fresh sausages are perhaps the easiest and most approachable form of charcuterie. With a few pieces of equipment, you can make your own sausage at home instead of getting it from a processor.
While I personally enjoy lean meat, I realize that fat is a fundamental ingredient for making good sausage. The recipe below uses a 25% ratio of fat to meat, which is still on the lower end of the scale. You can go as high as 35%. Use fat from pork and adjust the ratios to your liking.
The recipe below is for a basic hot Italian seasoned sausage that isn’t too spicy. It’s great for everyday cooking and will yield about 10 links. A lot of times I will measure out double the amount of meat and season half in hot Italian spices and the other half with something else and stuff all at the same time. If you don’t have a sausage stuffer, you can still grind and season the meat using the recipe below for loose sausage to use on other dishes like on top of a pizza or with eggs.
- 5-10 ft. natural hog casings
- 1 3/4 lbs. venison, trimmed of excess silver skin and diced into 1” cubes
- 3/4 lb. pork fat, diced into 1” cubes * See Notes
- 1 1/2 tbsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 2 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
- 3 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes, plus more for additional spice
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced into half-moon rings
- 3 bell peppers (red, orange, and/or yellow), sliced into thin strips
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. honey
- 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Olive oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Make sure your casings are soaking in a big bowl of water for at least an hour or overnight if possible. If they are packed in salt, run cold water inside and rinse them off before soaking.
- Measure out and stir together all of the dry seasonings (not the water or vinegar). Mix it with diced venison cubes and diced pork cubes in a large bowl. Make some room in the freezer and place the meat inside to chill. It must be very, very cold before grinding. Let it chill for 30 minutes or longer, but don’t let it freeze solid.
- Set up your grinder and use the small die attachment. Grind all of the meat. Return it back to the large bowl.
- To make the bind, stir in the ice water and red wine vinegar. Mix with either a wooden spoon or use your hands and knead together for a few minutes. You want the bind to stick together in a large ball and not crumble. The texture should feel tacky. When finished, place it in the fridge to stay cold while you clean up your meat grinder and set up your sausage stuffer.
- Pull the casings out of the water and squeeze out any excess liquids. You still want the outside to be a little wet because it helps it slide better. Feed all of the casing over the tube of the stuffer, leaving a few inches off the end. Bring your meat back out of the fridge and feed it into the sausage stuffer. Keep feeding it through at a consistent pace as it extrudes the meat into the casing. Be sure to pack it tight, but not so much that it pops. As the stuffer continues to extrude meat, you can start to coil up the sausage. After all the meat has been pressed into the casing, start to form links by pinching at equal distances and twisting several times. Each link should be twisted in alternating directions (or tie with a butcher’s string). Do this throughout the entire casing.
- It helps to let the sausages sit overnight in the fridge before cooking. To cook, sauté in a hot cast iron skillet or grill over high heat until cooked through. Serve with sweet peppers.
*Note: This is sausage has an 70/30 ratio of venison to pork fat. For a leaner sausage with an 80/20 ratio, use 2 pounds of venison, and 1/2 pound of pork fat.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a glug of olive oil and, once hot, toss in the yellow onions. Let the onions cook for a few minutes, stirring only occasionally, and then add sliced fennel and bell peppers.
- Continue to sauté for roughly 10 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Pour in the red wine vinegar and the honey. Cook an additional minute, or until the liquids dissipate. I don’t like to overcook the peppers. I still want a slight crunch to the fennel strips. Season for salt and pepper to taste.