By John Maniatty
I fell in love with making sausage on my very first attempt so be forewarned! Using all those little extra pieces of meat appealed to me as well as controlling the quality of the sausage. What I didn't expect was how creative you can be making sausage after you practice the basics. I've made venison sausage, elk sausage, bison sausage, rabbit sausage, mutton sausage, pork sausage, bear sausage, rabbit sausage and lamb sausage. For this demonstration I'm making rabbit sausage.
Making rabbit sausage became a family tradition for us. It was a great way to use up the parts of the rabbit we didn’t use for barbecuing or other main dishes. Generally the meat we used was the flanks of the rabbit. Since we usually dressed a lot of bunnies at a time we had plenty of meat to make a decent batch of sausage. Some of the sausage went into links. The rest we made into rolls to freeze and slice into breakfast patties.
• 7# boned rabbit meat
• 1 1/2# pork fat
Seasonings...premix before adding:
• 1 1/2 T. black pepper
• 2 T. ground sage
• 2 tsp. salt
• 2 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp ginger
• 1 tsp. ground thyme*
• 1 tsp. ground basil*
• 1 tsp. ground marjoram*
• 3/4 tsp. mace
• 1/2 tsp ground coriander
• 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
* when ground is not available I use 1 1/2 tsp. dried.
First, bone the rabbit, cut into smaller pieces and fill the hopper.
Run the meat through the grinder once, using a medium holed plate.
Rabbit is very lean so I add enough pork fat to keep my links nice and juicy.
Throw in the seasonings and mix well.
I run my meat through the grinder twice to get the texture I like for sausage.
It's important to keep your meat cold between grindings to keep bacteria to a minimum and to allow the sausage to grind easier. As it cools I have time to set up the stuffer and rinse the casings. I like to use sheep casings for my links.
Preparing the casings
Many people shy away from 'casing' their sausage because it's more difficult. I had such a hard time on my first couple of attempts I almost decided not to bother...but I really love link sausages. It took me awhile but I've been preparing casings in this manner now for 20 years and it really works. I can completely 'load up' the sausage stuffer nozzle in just a few minutes. If you want link sausage this is the easiest way I've found.
First lay the 'yank' of casing out and untie the knots holding the bunch together. The salt you see on the butcher block has fallen off the casings.
Wash the salt off them and drop them in some cold water to soak for a few minutes.
Next, take a casing, open one end with your finger and run enough water into the casing to allow it to expand a little. The force of the water will do the work for you. Now, take you sausage stuffer nozzle and slide the end of the casing over the nozzle. Put the other end of the nozzle up to the faucet and let water flow freely through the nozzle until it is all 'puffed out' from the water. The water will drain out as soon as you turn off the water. The casing will now slide easily onto the nozzle. Just work it back and forth abit as you're sliding it on. Repeat the process until you have loaded your nozzle with casings.
The casing puffed out by the water.
The nozzle on the Sausage Stuffer, loaded for action.
Filling the casings takes a steady gentle pressure and practice to master.
Before cranking the handle I tie off the casing.
The sausage starts to flow.
Having four hands is really helpful...
When the casings are filled I tie off the links with a pinch and a double twist.
My links and patties side by side.
Cooking up a sample on my wood stove.
And now the fruit of my labor is ready to eat. Ahh... succulent!