When I was 16, I became a vegetarian. I wasn’t a good vegetarian, and when faced with a juicy flank steak eight years later, I gave it up. Never looked back, and actually made a solid effort to make up for eight years of lost meat eating.
If you had told me when I was 16 and idealistic, or when I was 24 and hungry that a day would come when I would stuff my own brauts, I’d have thought you were crazy. Yet, that’s just what I did today.
It’s so painfully easy. I doubt I”ll be buying brauts anytime soon. It is a little time consuming, and does require some advance planning. It’s also a two person job, unless you’re ambidextrous. My dear husband helped this time, despite his dislike for the casings. Not many people probably look forward to handling pig intestines, but they do end up tasty.
Here’s the rundown: You need ground pork (pasture raised, not feedlot), whatever seasonings or add-ins you like, and casings. The pork I found at a local grocery and was on sale for $3.99/lb. I bought three pounds. In hindsight, I wish I’d bought 10. Stuffing sausages is one of those kitchen activities that if you’re going to do, you may as well make a lot. I bought the casings at my local Whole Foods Grocery store. I explained to the butcher that I planned to make about a dozen brauts and he handed me a wrapped package of casings. Between the casings and the pork, I spent less than $20. I seasoned the pork with salt, pepper, garlic powder, sage and a bit of nutmeg. The casings need to soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes (they’re preserved with a lot of salt, which you want to soak out of them). After 30 minutes, rinse water through them as best you can.
To stuff them, I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the food grinder/sausage stuffer attachments. We’d been given the grinder attachment with the Kitchen Aid when we got married 18 years ago. The stuffer tube, we just bought from Amazon this week.
Once the grinder/sausage stuffer tube is attached to the mixer, you slide the casings onto the stuffer tube/funnel thing. This can be a bit tricky, so go slow and be patient. You don’t want to tear the casing in your haste to finish this task. Tie off the end of the casing (not the end on the tube). Once the casing is slid up onto the tube, you can turn on the mixer and start pushing the ground pork into the hopper. The mixer will push the meat into the casing and you just need to support it as it extrudes the meat. This is where it would get tricky for one person to do this. With your right hand you need to support the sausage, with your left you need to be pushing the ground meat into the hopper. Instead, I asked my kitchen assistant (AKA husband) for help. He pushed the meat into the mixer’s hopper while I used both hands to guide the sausage and support it. I coiled it onto a plate until we were done. I tied off the ends of the casing, and proceeded to twist the sausages every six inches or so. I am not nimble enough to tie of the casing on each end of each sausage. I just twisted enough that I would have a quarter inch or so of twisted casing between sausages. It was here that I cut them. I gently bagged them in a bag and put them in the fridge.
Later, I browned the sausages in a skillet on the stove, and served them with homemade sauerkraut and roasted potatoes. One of the tastiest meals I’ve ever made! It required some work, but both my husband and I had fun learning something new and the sausages were so different than we buy at the grocery store! My son said he’d never eat another store bought sausage again. The big lesson we learned was that it would not be much more work to make 10+ pounds worth of sausages than to make three pounds. If you’re going to be doing the mixing, handling the casings, and stuffing, you may as well make a bunch and freeze them or feed a large group. Next time, we plan to do ten or twenty pounds of pork and have sausages in the freezer for months.