something that i love to do every now and then is make a batch of homemade sausages. i don’t do it as frequently as i would like as it does take a good amount of time from start to finish. there is a lot of prep work involved, especially if you are grinding your own meat (which you should do), and a lot of cleanup. but the satisfaction afterwards makes it worth every minute.
today, i decided i was craving buffalo chicken wing sausages. this is not an easy thing to find in the fresh meat case even though i live in buffalo, ny (go figure…). what a perfect opportunity to get out the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for my kitchen-aid mixer and get busy.
so besides some sort of meat grinder and some sort of sausage stuffing equipment (there are manual versions of both but i love my attachment pieces) you will not need anything too special.
you will need to acquire some natural hog casings which can be found packed in salt in the meat case at most larger grocery stores. so here is a crash coarse on how to prepare them for the following recipes. you will need to rinse and soak about 4 feet for each 2 pounds of meat (approximately, depending on how “full” you stuff your sausages). this means finding the opening at one end and putting it up to the faucet to allow water to flush through the entire 4 feet. this process will allow the salt to be rinsed from the casings and will re-hydrate them so that they may be stuffed without tearing. after rinsing, the casings will need to soak in a small bowl of cool water for 30 minutes. after the initial 30 minute soak, rinse them out again and put back in the bowl. this time, besides the cool water, add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to the bowl which will help the casing to stay flexible and stretchy when stuffing later on. set aside your casings in this solution until you are ready to use but for at least 30 more minutes.
yea i realize these pictures of the raw ingredients won’t be the most appealing, but i figure if you’re willing to spend 2 hours elbow deep in raw chicken you should have the stomach for it 😉
so now, moving onto the meat. usually i prefer pork sausages which i’m sure will make their way onto my blog eventually but since today’s is chicken it is important to remember that you need to have some fat in your meat blend. pork inherently has more fat which adds to a nice flavor and consistency in sausages but chicken is on the leaner side so you want to be careful not to dry it out in cooking later on but also you need to be careful of your stuffing ingredients. therefore, chicken thighs SKIN ON and bone removed are used for this recipe. leave the skin on. resist the urge to discard any fat when you are cutting your chicken into 1 inch pieces. after you have cut your chicken up, spread it on a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer to allow it to really cool down and almost freeze this will make grinding it much easier.
it is also worth noting that it is important to keep raw ingredients chilled between steps when not being immediately used. this will keep risk of bacterial growth to a minimum. and, since you will be using raw chicken, wash your hands frequently and avoid any kind of cross-contamination in your kitchen.
for more information on technique, equipment and other recipes on sausage-making i recommend “Home Sausage Making”.
buffalo chicken wing sausages
- 4 lbs skin on, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 4 feet hog casing
- 1 cup of your favorite buffalo wing sauce (i used Wegman’s store brand hot wing sauce, it’s my favorite of the ones i’ve tried)
- 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, chilled
- 1 stalk of celery, including the leaves, diced very small (this will not be ground with the meat, it will be mixed in afterwards so whatever size you cut it will be the size it remains inside your finished product)
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- prepare the casings
- after chilling chicken in freezer, combine with wing sauce, hot sauce, salt, paprika and cayenne in a large bowl with your hands. chill until ready to grind
- grind the mixture through your meat grinder, fitted with a fine disk into another bowl
- using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, mix on low speed for 1 minutes. add in the vinegar, blue cheese and celery and increase speed to medium, mixing until liquid is incorporated, about 1 minute more. (if you don’t have a stand mixer use your muscles and a big wooden spoon)
- form a small sausage patty and cook in small frying pan or microwave until cooked through. taste and adjust seasonings of sausage if necessary. don’t skip this step,you don’t want all of your effort in making these sausages to be a let down because later on you find there is not enough salt (or whatever else) in your sausage mixture.
- stuff sausage into casings and twist into 6-inch links.
- prick air pockets and cut links apart with a sharp knife
- refrigerate until ready to cook, but preferably overnight to allow the flavors to meld together.
- prepare sausages as desired (**see note at bottom of post)
- serve plain or with a quick sauce of chunky blue cheese dressing mixed with a splash of the hot wing sauce (the kind you used in the sausage mixture) and a sprinkling of blue cheese over the top
*a note on these sausages: when i cooked these for the first time i found that i had packed the filling too loosely and had neglected to prick air holes in the casing where there were air pockets. these two things caused the sausages to “burst” slightly from the ends when i cooked them, much to my dismay. this made it harder to maintain the moisture i had intended to carefully guard inside the sausage. the flavor was still wonderful but it is important to pay attention to those two seemingly minute details so that this doesn’t happen to you, or to me in the future. still very much nom nom however, especially with the simple sauce shown above 🙂
apple, onion and riesling chicken sausages
(this was based on a recipe from “Home Sausage Making” mentioned above)
- 2 feet hog casing
- 2 lbs boneless, skin on chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (medium grind)
- 1 granny smith or other firm, tart apple, peeled and chopped (i used a braebum)
- 2 tbsps minced onion
- 1/4 cup riesling (or chardonnay or other dry white wine)
- prepare the casings
- after chilling the chicken in the freezer, grind though the fine disk of your meat grinder
- in a large bowl, combine the chicken, salt, ginger, pepper, apple, onion and reisling, mix well with your hands (i grinded my chicken directly into a bowl with those ingredients already in the bottom)
- grind the seasoned mixture through the fine disk for a second time
- form a small patty and cook to test for seasoning
- stuff the mixture into prepared casings
- prick air pockets and twist into links of desired length (these would be good as 3 or 6 inch)
- cut links apart with a sharp knife and refrigerate until ready to cook (preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld together)
- prepare as desired
*i cooked half of these by grilling from the raw state over medium heat and the other half by poaching for 10 minutes in a mixture of white wine, chicken broth and water and then finished them on the grill. the top two sausages were the ones grilled from the beginning and the bottom three were poached then grilled. there wasn’t any noticeable difference in the taste between them, surprisingly so i think both methods work well as long as you monitor the temperature (i know i know, i can’t stress this enough…)
**methods for cooking poultry sausages:
- pan frying: add about an inch of cool water to a fry pan, add the sausage and heat to boiling. reduce to a simmer and cook until the sausages are almost done, about 10 minutes depending on the size of your links. drain off the liquid and cook over medium-high heat to evenly brown the links in a splash of olive oil, about 5 to 10 minutes more. after you drain off the liquid, you could even add in some julienned peppers or sliced onion to cook and serve with the sausages
- grilling: do so over medium heat and watch the internal temperature of the sausages carefully to avoid overcooking them. i do this with an instant read probe thermometer and stick it into one of the ends to avoid puncturing the skin. you can also choose to simmer them very slowly over low heat in liquid first (poaching) for about 10 minutes. water if fine but if you can use a mixture of water and either broth, beer or wine (depending on the flavor profile you are going for) you will impart more flavor to the final product. then grill over medium-high heat. do NOT prick the sausages while cooking as they will loose a lot of moisture if you do this.
- you could also bake them or broil them but i find the above methods superior
- a quick note on this: i learned the hard way that if you have not properly stuffed your sausages and twisted between links enough, the filling will burst out while cooking! it may be a good idea to leave the links joined together in groups if you are going to poach them first and then cut between links before grilling. bursting may occur when poaching if the heat of the liquid is too high. remember to cook them on a low temperature
- cook sausages for an internal temperature of 165 F but do NOT overcook or poultry sausages will become very dry. check temperature through one of the ends of the sausage to avoid puncturing the skin.