This isn’t Amy, this is Justin Boggs, a member of the Mundovore cooking club. I will also be posting here from time to time.
Last fall I decided that over the course of this winter I was going to perfect my a Red Beans and Rice recipe. It’s a classic southern food, cheap, and incredibly good if cooked right. I found a good recipe on Gumbopages.com and made a few batches before discovering that if I was going to do this right I needed to find some decent andouille sausage. As it turns out, that doesn’t exist up here, and it costs about $10 a pound to import, so I decided to make my own. All I needed was a meat grinder, sausage stuffer and a smoker. I found a used Brinkman electric “bullet” smoker for $50 on craigslist, and after a little research I bought a #22 grinder from Cabelas, turns out they come with the sausage stuffer attachments already, so I killed to birds with one stone. So without further adieu, here is the process of making the andouille sausage, which is a John Folse recipe I also found on GumboPages.com
This is the sausage casing I got from a wholesaler in Nampa. Only place I could find a natural beef middle casing. It seems to take a little while to untangle. I used 15 feet for 10# of pork and it worked out almost perfect. The recipe called for 12′.
Here is the rinsed casing. This was a high quality casing, I got all 15 feet in one piece. I rinsed it on the outside first, and then opened it up and ran tap water all the way through it for a while, dumped the water and did it again. The casing has a mild odor, like alpo at first, after it is rinsed it has a light and slightly unpleasant smell. It also looks like a big bowl of condoms now. Funny how big it gets, 1 1/2″, after coming out of the package looking a lot like a fettuccine noodle.
For the meat I used pork shoulder that I procured from Winco for under $1.50 a pound. I bought some pork fat as well, but found that the untrimmed roast had plenty of fat to satisfy the requirements of the recipe.
Here is the meat after I cut it into 1-1.5 inch chunks before grinding. It is important to prep the meat correctly for the grinder. It is also important to keep the meat and fat cool in order to keep the fat from smearing in the grinder. I put both of these trays of meat (10 pounds) and put them in the freezer for 1.5 hours until they started forming ice crystals, I froze the grinder as well. Turns out I went a little overboard, it’s just important to keep the meat below room temp. So the next time I do this I will still chill the meat, but not quite so long. Another note, this recipe calls for a course grind of 1/4″, my grinder had a 3/8″ plate, which is a little bigger but worked really well
Here are the spices used. I found the cracked pepper (1/2-1/4 pieces) at Cash and Carry, though I thought it a little expensive at $10 a pound.
Here is the ground pork with the spices just before mixing. After mixing I made a patty and cooked it on the stove. I declared it too hot and too salty, but everything was according to the recipe so I took it out into the garage to stuff into the casing. (it worked out perfect in the end)
Kerri helped me by running the meat grinder, that had been converted with the sausage stuffing kit that came with it. This went pretty well. I could only fit about half of the casing onto the tube, so I might get a longer tube someday, but this works good for now. The first half of the stuffing process I stuffed the casing pretty hard, and on the second half I didn’t fill it quite as much. There was a bit of a visual difference, but it didn’t seem to make any difference at all in the texture of the final product. One other piece of advice is, run the grinder until you fill the tube before tying the knot int he sausage casing, otherwise air will blow up the casing like a balloon. Here is the finished product, well at least until smoking. I let this sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors run together a little bit. I averaged about 11″ on the length to maximize the hanging space in my smoker.
Here is the sausage in it’s final form. I modified the smoker a little with some steel dowels so I could hang the sausages instead of putting them on the grates. After smoking them 6 hours I finished them off in the oven to get the internal temp right. I don’t think the smoker ever got over 165.