Chicken & Tarragon - such a great match.
Approx Yield: 1.5LB (700g)
Approx Links: 12 (60g each)
Mincing Plate: 1/8" (fine grind)
- 500g Chicken
- 108g Breadcrumbs
- 88.5ml Oil
- 2.5g Pepper
- 8.5g Salt
- Lots of Tarragon
Sausage Casings: Approx 2.3m of natural sheep casings from The New Zealand Casings Co.
Rinse your casings.
It is essential to rinse all visible salt off the casings. Do this by running the casing under the tap using cold water. Try to massage between the folds. Do not remove the casing from the tube provided.
Soak your casings.
Once rinsed, you must soak your casings in fresh, warm water, ideally between 20°C and 30°C degrees (68°F – 97°F degrees). FYI your body temperature is 98.6°F/37°C degrees so your water should be cooler than your body temp. Make sure they are fully submerged and avoid water any hotter than 30°C/97°F. Soak your casings for at least 45 minutes. Alternatively, casings can be soaked overnight in cold tap water.
One of the most important things to remember when making sausages is to keep everything cold. A great tip from Matty Matheson’s is to use meat and fat that is ‘almost frozen’ – in his own words ‘if you grind meat that is warm or room temp it will turn into sludge, cold meat just grinds really nice’. This is because warmth ruins the emulsification (structure) of the meat and prevent both liquid and fat from absorbing into the meat. This leads to a dry, crumbly and less flavourful sausage. We recommend putting your meat or sausage mix and also your grinder blade and plate into the freezer for a minimum of 20 minutes before you start your grinding and sausage making. If you have a large batch of meat, keep anything you can’t fit into your grinder/sausage maker in the fridge until you need it.
Toast your spices.
If your recipe contains any spices then toast them in a skillet over medium heat until slightly golden and you can smell them. This releases the flavour from the spices.
Prepare your meat.
Trim and discard any hard fat and nerves from the meat. Cut meat and fat into small cubes (about 2.5cm/1 inch).
Mix meat and seasonings.
Using your hands, combine the diced meat, fat, salt, pepper and any other ingredients (herbs, spices, garlic, mustard etc) except for any liquid (stock, beer, wine, cream etc) or eggs in a big mixing bowl.
Grind your meat mix.
Select and insert your mincing grinder plate/die of choice. Gradually feed meat into the grinder, combining it with pieces of fat to achieve an even blend of meat and fat. Note that the finer you grind the meat the finer the texture will become (with less visible bits) and the firmer the sausage will be.
Give everything a good mix.
Add any liquid or eggs to the minced mixture and thoroughly mix the meat and spices by hand (preferable) in an oversized bowl or in your electric mixer using a paddle attachment for at least 2-4 minutes to help the mix bind. You know the mix is ready when you grab a handful and tip your hand upside down. If it sticks to the palm of your hand it is ready.
Pack your sausage stuffer.
Assemble your sausage stuffer. Place the sausage mix into a piping bag or fill the stuffing machine sausage meat canister. Press down and compact the meat to get rid of any air pockets. Put any meat that doesn’t fit back into the fridge until you are ready for it.
Get the right sized nozzle.
Different sized casings need a different sized sausage maker nozzle (also known as funnel, stuffing tube or stuffing horn), otherwise you could get tearing in your casing. Sheep casings require a smaller nozzle than hog casings. For our sheep casings we strongly recommend a 13mm/0.5” nozzle (13mm is the width/diameter of the nozzle at its tip). For our hog casings use a 24-28mm/1inch diameter nozzle.
Thread your casing onto the nozzle.
Our casings have been threaded onto a pipe for easier use. Remove the casing from the water and slide the casing tube onto the piping nozzle. You can dab a bit of vegetable oil on the end of the casing and nozzle to make this easier. Slide the casing off the casing tube onto the nozzle until you come to the other end of the casing. Tie a knot in this end of the casing and slide right up against the end of the nozzle. You are ready to start filling.
Fill your sausages.
Press the knot at the end of the sausage casing firmly against the end of the sausage nozzle. Begin piping the sausage mix into the casing, ensuring the meat is filling the casing evenly. Maintaining some pressure on the meat in the feeder will help and will prevent air bubbles in your sausages. Pinch the casing every 15cm/6 inches to make a space to later create links in the sausages. When all the meat is fed into the casing, turn off the machine and tie a secure knot at the end of the casing. The amount of fill is a balancing act you will get better at it the more times you do it. Ideally, you want to find the sweet spot where the casing is filled with meat and a little amount of air remains but not so full that it will burst when you begin twisting or the skin will snap open when you cook it. However, generally speaking, it’s better to very slightly over-stuff than under-stuff your sausages, since fat and moisture will escape during cooking, making the meat shrink.
Make the links.
To make the links in your sausage, pinch and twist the filled sausage casing with thumb and forefinger approximately 15cm/6 inch apart, then spin the sausage between your fingers (kind of like a skipping rope). Move your way along the filled casing, making sure to spin the sausage in alternating directions for each sausage.
Hang your sausages.
Once you’ve mastered all of that, your sausages need to be hung in a cool, dry place for around 24 hours. This gives the casings time to dry out, and the flavours time to steep and develop to their full potential.
Get out your BBQ and cook the little beauties up.
Remember not to cook too hot as you will split the casing and all those beautiful sausages juices will escape and make your sausage dry.