About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meat Grinding and Sausage Making 2011 - part 1

Yesterday I got a good start on all the meat grinding and sausage making I wanted to do this week. 
I got 60 lbs of beef, 40 lbs of pork and 24 lbs of lamb all run through the grinder the first time.  I grind all my meat twice, first using a die with 1/2" holes, then later with a smaller die (size varies depending on the use or type of sausage it is destined to become).
This time I was grinding meat from several different butchering sessions last summer and fall, so the meat had all been frozen.  I really like working with frozen meat for grinding because I can purposefully thaw the meat only part way before processing it.  The meat was perfect; pliable but still with lots of ice crystals in the muscle. Having the meat "hard chilled" makes it cut cleaner without mushing the fat at all and also counteracts any heat build-up from the friction of the process. Keeping the meat as cold as possible reduces the chance of problems from bacteria.
So, starting with 124 lbs of well-chilled boneless meat, cut into strips 1"x1" or smaller (any length), well trimmed of any sinew, silver skin, excess fat, glands etc. I set-up my meat grinder.  It's an attachment for my 20-qt mixer that is powered by the PTO (power take-off) hub on the front of the machine.  The grinder is basically a funnel for directing the meat to a screw drive that pushes the meat through a stationary heavy metal plate with holes cut in it.  A 4-bladed knife (which I sharpen regularly) rotates on the screw drive and against the plate, cutting off the meat as it is pushed out
Here are some pictures of the parts and assembly...

I set the mixer to a medium speed and, using the "pusher" started feeding meat, a little at a time, down the chute into the grinder.  The first grind is very easy and the meat practically flies through the plate into the waiting tub below. The meat is nicely cut into a very coarse grind so I proceed and process the all the beef, pork, and lamb in about 2 hours, immediately getting it back into the fridge as soon as possible.

After clean-up I still had enough time to make my sausage mixes. This week I'll be making 10 lbs of Andouille (a smoked Cajun sausage), 10 lbs Sweet Italian. 10 lbs of Fresh Hungarian, 10 lbs of Pork Breakfast, and 10 lbs of Hotdogs/Wieners/Frankfurters.
While the ingredients and ratios vary for the different sausages the method is the same for all: Measure the seasonings, mix them with a liquid, mix the seasoned liquid with the coarse-ground meat, chill thoroughly (preferably overnight), re-grind through a smaller die, stuff into casings (optional), smoke (if appropriate),  eat or package and freeze.


I got all of the sausage mixing done yesterday in anticipation of re-grinding and stuffing today but I wasn't able to get any of it done except re-grinding the beef for hamburger (and in time for lunch too!)

The rest of the sausage making will have to wait until tomorrow.  I hope.
If this whole grinding-sausage making thread bothers you, just wait...  Next week we'll be making some laws!

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