Winter is a great season to make sausage. Just about every meat eater loves it, and when you make it yourself you can use any meat you like, any seasoning, etc. Although it does take some time to make sausage, it’s pretty much all in the setup and cleanup, so if you make a big batch and freeze it, it’s a good use of time. At the end of the photos I’ve listed some resources I like for sausage making supplies and information.
Surprisingly, this is one of the more expensive foods I make. All the ingredients (casings and spices prorated by number of portions) cost about $80, and I figure there were 25 servings of all things produced (the sausages, the roast, the leftovers from the roast), so grand total per serving is about $3.20. Which, compared to a $6 sausage from Farmhand Foods in Durham, actually sounds about right. And we frequently pay $9 or $10 for a 4-serving package of farmers’ market brats, so they are at least comparable. But cheap meat is one thing the mass market does well (the cheap part, anyway), so making your own brats is going to cost more than buying a package of Johnsonville.
One of the biggest barriers I’ve heard to people doing this at home is “where do I get the stuff”? Here are some resources I like:
For knowledge, there is one book that is unsurpassed: Charcuterie – The Art of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, by Michael Ruhlman. This book will get you off to a running start, and is the “from scratch” source.
Equipment: many of us these days have a KitchenAid stand mixer, and I’ve found that the attachment available for grinding and stuffing has been adequate for my needs (for 17 years now, and I make maybe 25 lbs of sausage per year). It’s only $37 at Amazon; you may have to buy the stuffing tube attachment for $9, too. Of course, this assumes you have the mixer (or it’s a good excuse to buy one!), which is a bargain starting at $199. Another source you may be surprised at is Northern Tool and Equipment, who sells heavy duty grinders and stuffers in their store in Cary as well as online, but you will easily spend $300 or more on great machines to make sausage, but nothing else. eBay frequently has suitable equipment listed, but my experience is that it’s not a bargain and you run the risk of getting some pretty well-used stuff. I’d buy new.
Meat: Of course you can buy meat at your local supermarket – look for the Boston Butt cut of pork (which isn’t a butt at all, it’s a shoulder). But I recommend you go to your local farmers’ market and ask a farmer. They may not have the right cut with them, but can probably bring it to the next market. The shoulder in this post came from Little River Ranch in Hillsborough, NC – they sell regularly at the North Raleigh Farmers’ Market. Coon Rock Farm and Fickle Creek Farms are good choices at the Western Wake Farmers’ Market.
Spices: My go-to source for 20+ years has been Penzy’s spices. I bought from them when the only way to do so was from a catalog, with an order form and a check! Of course now you can shop them online, and they just opened a new store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village. Penzey’s spice blends remain very true to classic recipes you find in the book mentioned above.
Sausage casings: This is perhaps the most difficult item on the list. You won’t find this in your average supermarket. I like to go to a local butcher, in my case Cliff’s Meat Market in Carborro, NC. Casings are also available through sportsman’s stores, such as Dick’s Cabellas, Bass Pro Shop, etc., or online at Amazon.com.
Coffee: You know I couldn’t end this without a plug for our coffee company, right? What does that have to do with sausage? Not much, but I’m writing the blog post, so I get to include the plug. Get the best coffee available at