Something sizzling on the grill practically screams summer. But why not channel that metro Detroit DIY spirit and create your own sausage, instead? Yep: We decide to forgo the pre-fab and figure out how to whip up some links of our own.
Sure, they say laws and sausage are the two things people don't want to see being made – but we beg to differ (about the latter, anyway!). Lawmaking may be a dirty business, but sausage-making is actually quite fun and easily doable for the average family. So, sink your teeth into these recipes from a pair of local pros: Alexander & Hornung of St. Clair Shores and the Detroit Sausage Company, Inc. in Eastern Market.
Before you begin, here are a few things to keep in mind, courtesy of our southeast Michigan pros.
- Casing: Our experts suggested hog casing for the best texture. Check your local butcher, or browse Amazon.com (Eastman Outdoors of Flushing, Mich. sells home packs for about $13). A diameter of 32-35mm or 35-38mm will do.
- Stuffing: Thinking of doing it by hand? Don't, pros warn: It's tedious and overworks the meat. You also can find a basic stuffer on Amazon for as cheap as the $25-$45 range (there's even a $10 KitchenAid attachment).
- Cleanliness: Add a touch of bleach to your cleaning water. Keep raw sausage in the fridge only a day or two. You can freeze it one to two months.
- Get fresh: Italian, Polish, breakfast, bratwurst, summer: These sausages are all in the fresh family. These seasoned meats require no curing or smoking.
Classic Fresh Sausage
Alexander & Hornung has been making sausage on the eastside for decades. Here, they offer up their original fresh sausage recipe, dating back to the early '60s. "Very simple but delicious," says president Bernie Polen.
Ingredients, Italian sausage
- 2 lb. meat (pork is classic, or substitute with ground turkey, chicken or beef; go about 75 percent lean*)
- 1 oz. water
- 1/2 oz. of salt
- 1 pinch white pepper
- 1 pinch fresh garlic or powder
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 pinch oregano
- Fennel seed or crushed fennel seed
*To make leaner, add a couple tablespoons olive or canola oil per pound of meat
Ingredients, Polish sausage
- Same meat, water and salt as above, and the following spices:
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 2 pinches white pepper
- 1 pinch fresh garlic
- 1 pinch marjoram (optional)
- Grind the meat (if necessary) with meat grinder, mixer with grinder attachment or food processor (or ask your butcher to do this for you). Polen recommends a 3/8-inch cut. For the true "old world effect," cut by hand!
- In a mixing bowl, add the water and spices to the meat. Mix thoroughly, by hand, until a bit sticky ("This is a good thing," Polen says).
- If you want to make classic links*, soak several feet natural hog casings in warm water for a couple of minutes (this recipe yields about 8-10 links).
- This next step requires a sausage stuffer: Slide the casing onto the stuffing "horn" and, while pinching the end with one hand, fill the meat into the casings. Your aim is for it to be firm – but, if you squeeze the sausage in the middle, you can just about get your fingers to touch. Make each link about 5-6 inches long and twist them about four times around. Leave them sit for about five minutes; then you may cut the links apart.
- Par-boil (bring water in a small pot to a boil, then simmer) the links for about 5-8 minutes.
- Pour off the water and brown both sides in a pan or skillet. You may also finish them on the grill (about 1-2 minutes should do).
- Serve on a bun with your favorite mustard, or slice on a diagonal and serve over potato salad or on top of pasta.
*No casings or stuffer? No problem! Just form into patties, like hamburgers, and pan-fry those in a skillet for 3-5 minutes.
Watch the Detroit Sausage Company show us how to make loukanika!
When it comes to the fresh variety, the Detroit Sausage Company, Inc. has been at it since 1928. Distribution and marketing whiz Phil Peters shared the company's lesser-known spicy Greek sausage recipe.
- 6 feet medium hog casing
- 2 lb. lean pork
- 1 lb. boneless lamb leg or shoulder
- 1/2 lb. pork fat
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. ground olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
- 1 Tbsp. ground kosher or coarse salt
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 2 Tbsp. grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup retsina (Greek wine) or brandy
- Cut the pork, lamb and fat into 1" cubes. Refrigerate the cubes for roughly 30 minutes to make them solid for grinding.
- Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil over low heat until softened (about five minutes; don't let brown). Refrigerate mix for 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the onion mix with pork, lamb, pork fat, coriander, salt, cumin, pepper, thyme and orange zest. Mix well by hand.
- Grind the mixture fine in a meat grinder (may grind coarser if desired).
- Add the retsina or brandy to moisten and knead well with hands.
- Stuff the mix into the prepared casing, pricking any air pockets, and twist off the sausage into 6" links. Cut links apart with a very sharp knife or butcher scissors.
- Cook to internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Best grilled or pan-fried.