If there’s one thing that I have had in the back of my mind for the last few months that I really wanted to try it is making my own sausage. Some people may consider it gross, but I think the exact opposite. In fact, if I’m going to eat sausage I would rather it be homemade because A) I can follow the meat and B) I know exactly what went into it and under what conditions.
What more could you want? Unfortunately, my kitchen really isn’t equipped for such things so this nagging dream of mine has just sat on the back burner for awhile. That was until Rex of Savory Reviews called me up and invited me over to make some homemade Bratwurst.
My response was: “Yes. When and what time and how many beers can you safely consume?”
After about 5 hours of work, with plenty of breaks, we ended up with these beauties.
Obviously, I’d never done this before. Turns out that Rex really hadn’t done it before either although he did take a class at Sur La Table and we had a few tips from his Dad. We were pretty confident that we could handle it and produce something edible. We were so right.
Turns out it wasn’t hard at all, but there was a few key tricks and you need some specific equipment and about 4-5 hours.
1) Trim off as much fat as possible from the pork butt. Cut fat and meat into 1/2-1 inch cubes that easily fit into your grinder.
2) Freeze the meat and the fat for 30 minutes so it firms up nicely.
3) Mix spices together in bowl.
4) Grind the fat first. Use the large plate grinder first and then pass the meat through the larger grinder also.
5) Combine fat and meat together at this point using your hands. Mix in all the spices as well. Let the mixture chill for another 30 minutes.
6) Grind the mixture through the small grinder plate.
7) Prepare your casings according to directions and start filling your casing. I like to go for a 6-8 inch brat but you can make them any size you want!
Store brats in fridge for a few days or freeze them for longer keeping. I prefer to boil the brats in beer for 30 minutes and then grill them on a hot grill to crisp up the sausage.
Recipe adapted from Paul Kirk's Championship BBQ.
There are a lot of spices in this recipe. If you had to buy them all it would be expensive. I suggest playing around with a few and getting creative.
The Meat. The core of any bratwurst is the pork. We used a nice bone-in pork butt for this. We trimmed off as much fat as reasonably possible. Ideally, you would have a 4-1 ratio between meat and fat. If you have very lean meat, you’ll need to buy pork fat separately which is usually packaged as pork back fat. Or just ask your butcher.
Cut this meat into reasonable cubes that will fit into your grinder. We used a KitchenAid with the grinder attachment so for us this was about 1/2-1 inch cubes. Then, secret #1, freeze the meat. It doesn’t have to be frozen solid, but ideally it would be like 25% frozen. That will make it cruise through the grinder. Do the same freezing with your fat cubes.
While the cubes are cooling down, you can mix up your spices.
Secret #2. Grind your fat first. This sort of lubricates the grinder. If you don’t do this, you will be there for a long time. Most grinders come with a larger plate and a smaller plate. Obviously, use the larger plate first. After the fat is ground, it goes back in the freezer while you grind the meat. Once they are both ground through the large plate you can combine the pork, veal, and fat together with all the spices. We found that hands work best as a mixing tool.
Let that chill for 20-30 minutes. Have a beer. Relax. It’s important to keep it cool.
Once it is cold, then regrind the entire mixture through the small grinder.
Rex has a very cool dog name Tucker that I felt like we were torturing this entire time. After we were done, there were many belly rubs for Tucker and we even made him a mini-brat that we grilled up.
Secret #3. Buy your casings from these guys, Syracuse Casing Co. Now, let me start by saying that I know practically nothing about natural casings. The ones we used for this were the only ones I’ve ever worked with. But they were very easy to handle. I’ve heard horror stories about companies just shipping casings mixed up in big bags of salt. Not these guys. They place each casing on a plastic tube which makes it easy to prep and put on your sausage stuffer. All you have to do is soak the casing in water for a few minutes to rinse the salt off and then slide it on your stuffer.
Also, Rex surprised me with homemade hot dog buns. Hell ya.
Sorry I didn’t get any good photos of actually filling the brats. It requires two people and there were two of us, so no photo opp really. It isn’t very hard though. The only real thing to remember about it is Secret #4. When a brat is done, twist it in the opposite direction as the one before it. So if you twist the first one to the right, then twist the next one to the left. Not rocket science.
You can store the brats in the fridge for a few days without a problem or you can freeze them for longer. If you are freezing them, freeze them on a baking sheet first so they are not touching. This way they won’t stick together. Once they are frozen, you can bag them up and keep them for a few weeks.
Honestly, they are best to eat right away though. We boiled ours in beer for about 30 minutes and then stuck them on the grill. Yes. The mini-brat is Tucker’s. I wasn’t joking.
After they grill on each side for a few minutes, they are ready to be devoured. In my opinion, all these need is some mustard, but a bit of sauerkraut wouldn’t hurt.
This was a really fun time. I would highly recommend it. If you don’t have the equipment necessary or don’t know someone who has the equipment, do some research on Amazon or elsewhere to find a model grinder and stuffer that fits your kitchen. I was going to recommend a few, but there are a bunch of different options, and I’m not familiar enough with any of them to recommend a specific one.
All in all, a fantastic way to spend half a day on the weekend and, as you might imagine, the homemade brats were amazing.
Be sure to check out Savory Reviews also. Rex does good work.