Making sausage at home isn’t difficult, but you do need some special equipment. The traditional tool is a sausage funnel, a slender, tapering tube that fits over the end of a meat grinder. The casing is pulled over the tube, which extrudes the sausage mixture inside.
Some modern mixers, such as KitchenAid, have both meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments. There’s also a more elaborate stuffer that looks like a large elbow pipe with a tapered tube at one end and a hand-pumped piston at the other. Lowering the piston forces the sausage mixture through the tube into the waiting casing. Such devices can be ordered by mail from the Richard S. Kutas Co., 1067 Grant Street, Buffalo, New York 14207. In a pinch you can use a piping bag filled with a large round tip for stuffing sausage.
Sausage casings: These are available at butcher shops, ethnic markets, and some supermarkets. To prepare them for use: Soak for 1 hour in several changes of cold water. Drain, then pull one end of the casing over the end of the faucet in your kitchen sink. Gently ease the cold water tap on and let the running water rinse out the inside of the casing for 5 minutes.
To stuff the sausage casing: Attach the sausage-stuffing tube to your meat grinder and fill it with the meat mixture or fill whatever sausage-stuffing device you are using. Remove the casing from the faucet and, starting at one end, gather it onto the nozzle of the sausage stuffer (much as a woman might gather a stocking as she prepares to put it on) make sure the casing isn’t twisted. When only 2 or 3 inches of the casing are left dangling, knot the end tightly. Holding onto the casing so the flow of the meat mixture into the casing is controlled, pump the handle or crank the meat grinder to force the mixture into the casing, packing the casing firmly but not to the bursting point after every 4 to 6 inches, give the casing a couple of tight twists to make individual links. If air pockets form, you can deflate them by piercing the casing with the point of a sharp needle (just be careful the needle doesn’t end up in a sausage!). When the filling is used up and/or the casing is filled, remove the end of the casing from the sausage stuffer and either tie a knot in it or tie it closed with a short length of string.
If you are using a piping bag: This method will take longer, and you might find it a bit awkward at first, but it will get the job done. Remove the casing from the faucet and cut it into 20-inch lengths. Knot one end. Fit a large piping bag with a 1/2-inch round tip. Place some of the meat mixture in the bag (don’t fill it too full) and pull the open end of the casing up over the tip, gathering it as much as possible. Squeeze the bag with one hand, holding the top of the casing with the other the sausage mixture will flow neatly into the casing. Refill the bag as necessary. Make 3 to 4 individual links and finish off the casing as described above. Repeat with the remaining casing.
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