Yesterday and today I ventured into the fine art of sausage making. Yesterday I ground my first Italian sausage, and today I put it in a casing. This would have been easier if I had done it all at once, but I didn't have casing on hand.
[Side note: I always grind all of my own meat, and I try to buy my meats locally. Today's pork tenderlon was from a local farm where the free-range pigs are grass fed and treated humanely.]
Making sausage is enormously satisfying -- and incredibly easy. You do need some sort of food grinder (you can buy hand crank ones at many hardware stores, and probably at thrift shops). I am happy to have a KitchenAid professional mixer with a grinding attachment and a sausage stuffer. My Italian sausage is a combination of mostly pork tenderloin with added fat from a small amount of salt pork, to which I added many spices and herbs. I used natural casing, which is easier to find in a market than you might think.
The recipe is from the book Sausage: Recipes for Making and Cooking With Homemade Sausage by Victoria Wise (click to see the book on Amazon), which I downloaded to my iPad Nook app. This book has a wide variety of sausages from pork, beef, and lamb, to poultry and vegetarian. And, no, you don't need to use casings -- she explains how to use cheese cloth to shape links instead.
And here is my beautiful Italian sausage!
At this moment I am also making a traditional Quebecois meat pie called Tourtière, which is also made from ground pork, along with potatoes, onions, and a variety of sweeter spices (allspice and nutmeg, for example. This recipe is from The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook (click to check out the book), which was a gift from my sister-in-law Michelle. I promise to share a photo of the pie when it is finished!