Before turning my basement into a curing facility, I thought I’d try some easy fresh sausages first. Armed with my newly purchased book, Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie (thanks Meatchip for the recommendation!), I decided to try my hand at making a lamb sausage. Ruhlman gives a recipe for merguez, which is a delicious fresh North African lamb sausage. Using their recipe as a starting point, I played around with it little and the result was a tasty fresh sausage that is somewhere between merguez and chorizo (mergizo??). The garlic and smoked paprika really came through, as did the sweetness from the roasted red peppers. Now I’m on the hunt for more sausage making ideas, so if you’ve got any, let me know!
I would have taken pictures of the cute little patties I fried up, but they were gobbled up before I had a chance. You'll just have to enjoy the snapshot of 4 pounds of sausage.
If you are at all interested in making your own sausages or cured meats, you must pick up Charcuterie. It really is so informative. And it’s so much more than sausages. They discuss smoking and brining and give recipes for accompaniments.
Spicy lamb Sausage
- 3.5 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, diced
- 1 pound fat (no skin!) from salt pork*(see note), diced
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 whole heads garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 large roasted red pepper, diced
- 1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbs smoked paprika
- 1 tbs dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- up to 1 tbs red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ cup very cold water
- kosher salt, to taste
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the water and salt) and mix well. Put the bowl in the freezer for an hour to chill the meat and fat well. This will make grinding so much easier, trust me.
When the meat mixture is almost frozen, run it through a grinder using the coarse die. If you want a finer texture and more compact sausage, use the fine die. Make sure to catch the ground meat in a large bowl that is being chilled on ice. It took me about 20 minutes to get through the entire lot. In that amount of time the temperature of the meat could increase a lot, so you can see how imperative it is that the meat be nearly frozen to start. The blades also work better on colder meat and fat. Once the meat mixture is all ground up, add the water and mix well. It’s so easy if you have a KitchenAid set up because you can catch right into the metal bowl and then mix it up using the paddle attachment. No worries if you don’t have a KitchenAid. Just put some elbow grease into it. When everything is mixed well and uniform, put it all back into the fridge to get very cold if you are going to stuff it.
While it’s chilling, take a small bit and cook it up to taste if it has got enough salt. The salt pork already contributes quite a bit of salt, so you may not feel it needs more. I ended up putting in a little more (about 1 tbs for the entire lot). If you used regular pork fat, then you definitely need to add salt. According to Ruhlman’s guidelines, 4.5 pounds of meat could use about 1 to 1 ¼ oz kosher salt.
At this point, you can stuff the sausage into casings or just use it loose. Obviously (or maybe not), if you are going to stuff you should have some type of stuffing system. I really do not recommend trying to stuff by hand, especially if you are new to this. You’ll end up with loose sausages that resemble penises with tumors. (Yes, I said penises with tumors because that’s exactly how the lumpy sausages will look.) I do have the stuffing attachment for my KitchenAid, but I didn’t bother with casings and just froze usable portions. If you go the casing route, make sure you soak them for at least 30 minutes in cool water and them rinse them well before using to get rid of the brine. Once you’ve stuffed, you're ready to cook. Whatever you can’t eat in 2 to 3 days should be frozen. Wrap them well in plastic wrap then throw them into a Ziploc bag. It would be a shame if you take them out of the freezer and find they are all freezer burnt!
Wondering what this lamb sausage is good for? Try using it in any dish that calls for sausage. It's a great flavor base for soups. I'm simple; I like it fried and served with eggs and sauteed onions and bell peppers.