I just HAD to try out the new attachment for my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer...the KitchenAid FGA Food Grinder Attachment for Stand Mixers (which I got for $37, and as I type this it's down to $33!). I picked a relatively easy sausage recipe from The Mixer Bible: Over 300 Recipes for Your Stand Mixer, breakfast sausage! Next to bacon, breakfast sausage is my second favorite breakfast meat. The most difficult part was tracking down the meat I needed, pork shoulder and pork fat. I like that I know exactly what is in the sausage. I can control all of the ingredients and the spices. No high fructose corn syrup 'maple syrup' included in these puppies. No MSG. No nitrates or nitrites or whatever that stuff is.
Here's what's in Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage Links, according to their website:
PORK, WATER, SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF THE FOLLOWING: CORN SYRUP, SODIUM LACTATE, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL MAPLE FLAVOR (WITH MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, MALTODEXTRIN, MAPLE SYRUP, BROWN SUGAR), MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, FLAVORINGS, NATURAL BENZALDEHYDE, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID, BEEF COLLAGEN CASINGS.
I think I'll pass on those, thank you very much.
Slightly better is the breakfast sausage that is the favorite in our house, Jones Dairy Farm All Natural Golden Brown Maple Pork Sausage Links. Their ingredients are significantly better than Jimmy Deans, but there you will never know what all of the ingredients are. Here they are per their website:
pork, water, maple sugar, salt, spices, sugar, maple flavor (caramelized sugar syrup, flavorings, maple syrup, brown sugar)
The recipe I used called for 2 1/2 pounds of pork shoulder and a 1/2 pound of pork fat. The smallest pork shoulder I could find was 3 1/4 pounds, but I still only used a 1/2 pound of pork fat. A note about the pork fat: it wasn't out in the meat department. I asked the meat guy if they had any, and he packaged some up for me.
|The not-so-appealing pork fat and pork shoulder.|
First, I had to chop up the meat and fat into 1 inch cubes and place into a shallow-sided pan.
Next, I placed the pork in the freezer for 30 minutes (ok...it was a bit longer because I ate lunch). When you grind meat you don't want it to be too soft. And let me tell you that fat is really, really soft. I think it gets stuck in the grinder, but I don't want to find out, so I made sure it was pretty hard, but not totally frozen.
|Mmmm...cubed up pork (I know, it doesn't look too delicious).|
Then I put together the brand new grinder. I was so psyched to give it a try. It was so easy to put together and attach to the mixer. Even my husband was excited. You know how men are with meat!
|Isn't it cute? I just love the new grinder! You just put the bowl underneath the grinder to catch the meat, and you're ready to go!|
Then you just shove the meat down the grinder. It actually kind of pulls it through itself. It was fun, and took less than 10 minutes.
|I had to throw in a picture of the meat coming out.|
After I ground up all of the meat and fat, I added pure maple syrup (the real stuff, not the fake stuff), thyme, sage, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a little bit of allspice, as instructed by the recipe.
|Everything in the bowl before being mixed.|
Finally, it was time to test it out. I cooked a little bit up in a frying pan to see how it tasted.
|The cooked up sample.|
The first test sample was pretty bland. I added more of the maple syrup and spices. Cooked up another sample. Still too bland. I added even more syrup and spices. It was finally where I wanted it to be. I'm not sure if sausage is one of those things that tastes better as the flavor sinks in or not...
If I had sausage casings, I could have made little sausage links, but I didn't buy any. So I decided to make little breakfast sausage patties. I shaped them all on wax paper and froze them on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, I transferred them to freezer bags. I ended up with 57, so with the 3 test sausages, that makes 60 sausages total. Those will last us a long time!
|I had to include a photo of my helper/taste tester!|