This seems to be the week for Sausage Issues, and boy, do I have some. Let's see, where to begin?
Those casings are worse to work with than a kitten-snarled ball of yarn. I was really unprepared for a) how much of a hassle it is to free enough to stuff 3 lbs of meat from a coil made for 100 lbs. Grrr. Then, getting it started on the stuffer nozzle was hard too, even though we had it wet. But then, miraculously, after laboriously inching a foot or so over the nozzle, the rest slid right on. Should the nozzle maybe be oiled, rather than watered, to make the start easier?
Our new vertical stuffer worked a treat, easy to use beyond even my pessimistic husband's expectations. The Italian sausages looked pretty normal
except that, as you can see, there were lots of little air pockets. I'd smooshed the mixture down into the stuffer pretty hard - what else could I have done to avoid the bubble effect?
The twisting instructions were ingenious, but I think we did something wrong. Although the sausages looked normal when raw, when cooked they splorted out of the casings at the ends like this
Sorry for the crummy pictures. The light was bad, the plate kept steaming up the lense, and I was grumpy because of the stuffing excursion. Did I need more twists to get greater length of casing between each sausage? But now that I think of it, I don't really understand what does hold the stuffing in the casing. Once you snip between the sausages, what is supposed to keep the stuffing from exploding out, as mine did?
The flavor was very good, although I found them on the edge of being too salty. And I love salt, so this was pretty surprising. I did sub fennel pollen for fennel seed, and used dried rather than fresh herbs. One thing I'd do differently is do a coarser grind next time. I followed the instructions and used the fine die
but as you can kind of see in this picture, it was finer than a commercial Italian sausage. The mouth-feel was a bit too melting. Now I had added about 3-4 oz of extra back fat, since I'd read comments on the leanness of the Niman butts, and mine didn't seem to be over 20% fat, so that probably contributed to the melting sensation, but I think the grind was also part of the problem.
So, all in all, we learned a lot, but weren't entirely happy with the results. I'm looking forward to your tips, so we can do better next time. And notice how I keep saying "we," whereas my usual posts on this thread are all just me, doing my thing? That's because it sure goes better with four hands than two, alhtough I'm sure that with experience it's possible to go it alone.