Introduction to Sausage Making – 4 – More Common Meat-Borne Diseases – cooking

Recipes: Italian Sausage Spaghetti sauce. Stuffed bell peppers.

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Trichinosis… the word strikes terror in the minds of even those who don’t strictly know what it is. We’ve discussed it a bit, so far, as well as botulism. How do we prevent such nasty things?

For one thing, we try to avoid the “danger zone” between 40 degF and 140 degF. For our “fresh” sausages, that means keeping them cold until you are ready to cook them. The idea is to avoid botulism. Then, we heat them to 145 – 150 degF, the idea being to kill any trichinae which might be present. …but watch it. Try to keep them below 170 degF or so, which is the temperature at which fat renders. This last bit is called par-cooking. After that, what happens to the sausages is largely beyond your control as a sausage maker. Many people cook hell out of ‘em on the grill, burning or leaking out all the fat and juices, then wondering why they have something tasteless at best, cinder-like at worst. Others boil them until all the juices and fat are extracted, then cover them in condiments. If you are a “dirty water hotdog” aficionado from New York City, please stop here. “Fugeddaboutit.” Likewise, you Philadelphia cheese-whiz cheese-steak fans, please take your hydrogenated corn oil food product and exit, stage left, quickly.

But what happens DURING sausage making IS in your control, so you’d better practice the best precautions that you can take. We mentioned the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degF. The problem is, on the way through the “danger zone,” you leave the sausages open to botulism. You can’t get through there without another form of help- –  nitrite.

This takes us out of the fresh sausage category, into the second type of sausage, the cured, cooked, and smoked variety. You can obtain nitrite, in the form of “Cure #1,” at some butcher shops, especially if they serve hunters or do deer processing. For now, though, let’s redundantly reiterate again that you should NOT smoke sausages, or for that matter, process them in any way, above 40 degF until you are ready to cook them. When you are, don’t fool around- –  fry or grill hell out of ‘em as you will, but do it quickly. For now, we’ll not take up the cured, cooked, smoked type of sausage. We need to get into grinding and stuffing before it becomes a practical necessity.

So stick with us, and we’ll cook a few items. In this installment, we’ll make a meat sauce for spaghetti or pasta, and a stuffed bell pepper recipe. We dodge the danger zone as well as the rendering problem, I suppose, by browning the meat and incorporating the juices in the sauce, or by baking a recipe which includes absorbent material such as bread crumbs or rice to retain the juices.

—<RECIPES>—

Italian Sweet or Hot Sausage (Pasta Sauce) Outlaw’s Onion Sausage (Stuffed Peppers)

Italian Sweet or Hot Sausages: http://sausageswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Italian-Sweet-or-Hot-Sausage.pdf outlines how to produce Italian sweet or hot variety sausages. Normally you would buy these as stuffed links, then split them open to make sauce. Let’s cut out the middle man by not stuffing links. [Let’s also put the grinding instructions in brackets, so you won’t have to bother.]

………………..Grind/stuff recipe………………………………..Ground Meat recipe

  • Pork butt, 1 kg……………………………………………….1 lb ground
  • Black pepper, coarse 2.0 g. (1 tspn.) ……………0.90 gm ( ½ tsp)
  • salt 18 g (3 tsp. ) …………………………………………..8.2 gm (1-1/3 tsp)
  • sugar 2.0 g (½ tsp.) ……………………………………….0.9 gm (scant ¼ tsp)
  • fennel seed, cracked 3.0 g (2 tsp.) ………………..1.4 gm (scant 1 tsp)
  • coriander 1.0 g (½ tsp.) …………………………………0.5 gm ((scant ¼ tsp))
  • caraway 1.0 g ( ½ tsp.) …………………………….……0.5 gm ((scant ¼ tsp))
  • cold water 100 ml (⅜ cup) ……………………………45 ml (1/8 cup)

For Medium Hot Italian Sausage add 2 g (1 tsp) cayenne pepper. For Hot Italian Sausage add 4 g (2 tsp) cayenne pepper. Other Italian spices such as basil, thyme and oregano are often added.

[Freeze the fat then grind the meat and fat using a ⅜” (10 mm) plate.] Mix the meat with all ingredients, including the water[, then stuff the mixture into 32 – 36 mm hog casings and tie 5” (12 cm) links. Fully cook the sausage to 152 degrees Fahrenheit before serving.] Note- this particular sausage is recommended for frying or grilling.

For our purposes, keep the mix cold until ready to cook. Pan-fry in a sauce pan until browned, but don’t overcook it. Instead, add the sauce as the juices start to accumulate.

” ‘Sketties” A recipe for our traditional “ ‘Sketties” sauce follows. Every time our family gets together on vacation, we make this. Occasionally, we use a bottled tomato sauce, and occasionally we make this version, but we ALWAYS add sausage. It just wouldn’t be right without it. We used to make it with sausage in casings, sliced and browned, but the kids complained about it. No one complains when you use bulk sausage. That’s real progress. (They complain about Granddaddy snoring instead, but that’s outside the scope of this document.)

Sauce for ‘Sketties”

…have a favorite of your own?  …like your favorite bottled sauce? Use the above sausage recipe in it.

Otherwise, realize that many, if not most, tomato sauce recipes include diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, seasoned with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Despite what your Italian friends may say about Mama Mia’s recipe, it’s a matter of personal preference, so don’t worry. Roll your own.

Here’s a basic recipe from AllRecipes.com. Combine it with our one pound batch of Italian sausage.

  • 1 lb Italian sausage.
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Outlaw’s Onion Sausage Here’s your next recipe, http://sausageswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Outlaw-Onion-Sausage-loose-fresh.pdf, which we’ll use to stuff peppers. It’s one of Chuckwagon’s simplest, yet popular recipes for a fresh sausage that we can use for breakfast, yet also use for stuffing bell peppers. Our secret is that we add in a little cooked rice or some bread crumbs to retain the juices. Too bad that my mother never quite figured that trick. The meat stuffing in hers often resembled the center of a golf ball, if you’ve ever unwrapped the rubber bands off the core.  …only not as tasty. Still, I owe her a lot. Without her cooking, I never would have had to learn the art in self defense.

Plop on a little tomato sauce before baking for a traditional look and a really good taste. …no need to get fancy, here, because the stuffed pepper is the real star of the show.

Chuckwagon’s “Outlaw’s Onion Sausage” (Fresh-Type “Loose” Sausage)

………………..Grind/stuff recipe………………………………..Ground Meat recipe

  • Pork butt, 1 kg (30% fat)……………………………………………….1 lb ground
  • 18 g. salt (3 tsp).……………………………………………………………8.2 gm (1-1/3 tsp)
  • 2.0 gm black pepper, coarse (1 tspn.) …………………..……..0.90 gm ( ½ tsp)
  • 2.0 g. ground thyme (2 tsp)……………………………………..……0.90 gr (1 tsp)
  • 2 Tblspns. finely chopped onions ………………………………….(1 Tbsp)
  • 9.0 g powdered dextrose (or 1/2 tspn. sugar) ……………….4 gm dextrose (or 1/4 tsp sugar)

[items below in brackets should be ignored if you use store-ground meat.]

[Grind the lean (pork butt) through a 3/8” plate and the fat (frozen) through a 1/8” plate.] Over medium-high heat, slightly pan fry the onions in a non-stick skillet, adding a teaspoon of water. Stir the onions until the water has cooked away. Allow the onions to cool. (They should be barely translucent). When the onions have returned to room temperature, add all the remaining ingredients to the meat and fat mixture (see bread crumb or rice addition note below) and fold until the ingredients are blended well together. Refrigerate overnight in a refrigerator to meld flavors and use within three days, or freeze any remaining sausage. [Brown and use this “loose” sausage in gravy for “biscuits n’ gravy” or your special spaghetti sauce.]

For our stuffed peppers, don’t brown the meat. Instead, add ½ cup of either bread crumbs or cooked rice (gluten-free option) to the mixture, then mix well until primary bind.

Wash two or three bell peppers, cut the tops out of them, clean out the seeds and whatnot, and stuff with meat mixture. Place in a baking pan. Pour tomato sauce over each. Bake in a 350 degree F oven until (1) a probe in the meat mixture shows over 160 deg.F and (2) the peppers start to wrinkle, showing that they are cooked. You will hit one target before the other, typically the meat temperature. Don’t worry if the fat renders a bit- –  the bread or rice will absorb all those good juices.

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