Let me just start out by saying this is not my first attempt at using hops in food. I vividly remember the horrendous “hop chocolate” we tried to make last year. It was more hops than chocolate. Now to be honest, I don’t blame the hops. I knew their potency when I started my little experiment. When trying to use hops in food it is always trial and error. You have to experiment to get the level right. To little, and no one knows they are even in there, too much, and it is little someone punched you in the back of the throat! So I was a little sceptical when I came across an article on Hop Sausage. But I thought, what can go wrong? Luckey for me nothing did and a wonderful tasting sausage was born. I deviated from the original recipe in order to make for an all around better tasting sausage. So without further rambling from me, here is my attempt at sausage making.
5 lbs Pork Shoulder
1 Cup Farrells Irish Red
4 Cloves garlic, minced
5Tbs Sea salt
3Tbs Garam Marsala
1Tbs Dried hops of choice
2Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
3Tbs Smoked Paprika
1 Pack Natural Sausage Casings
2 Large Mixing Bowls
Ok, so I lied. There will be some more rambling before we get into making the sausage. There are some very important aspects you must know to make the sausage not only safe but to maximize flavor and texture. To start with, when I bought the 5 lbs of pork shoulder I purchased it off the bone. This will save you time in the process. The butcher will be happy to do this for you. You can talk to them about the meat to fat ratio and what it should be. Any good butcher shop, (Frank Stoysich Meats 5107 Q Street!) will be able to make sure you have the proper amount of each. Once you get all the things you need, SANITATION is the biggest thing to worry about. Having a dirty work station or equipment will lead to contaminated sausage and overall horrible flavor. So make sure you have a clean area to work in and plenty of towels for clean up. The last crucial area of concern is to make sure that the meat and grinder are put in the freezer 30 prior to starting to make the sausage. It needs to be very cold before you start. Otherwise, you will just have meat goop once you grind it! So let get it on now.
Put the meat in one of the large mixing bowls. Place the meat and the grinder into the freezer to chill. While this is happening you will need to take out 3-4 of the casings and get them soaking in water. This will remove the salt from the casing and rehydrated it.
Now take the hops, thyme, garam marsala, salt, paprika, and black pepper and place in the spice grinder. Blend for about 30 seconds untill it is a fine powder. Mix this with the garlic and brown sugar. This will become your “meat rub”. Remove the meat from the freezer and incorporate the spices into the meat. Make sure that each piece of meat is completely coated in spice. Place pork back in the freezer and remove grinder. Set up the grinder with the coarse die. Remove meat from freezer and cut into 1X1 inch cubes. This will make grinder a lot easier. Run all the pork through the grinder into the second bowl.
Now comes the best part, adding the beer. For this sausage we used the Farrell’s Irish Red. You can use whatever beer you like. Make sure the beer is cold when pouring into mix. When the beer is all in, the mix will feel “soupy” but that is ok. Just make sure to put it back into the freezer as soon as possible. At this time, you can also cook off a small amount of the pork to check the seasoning of the meat. This is the last chance you will have to make changes to the flavor. Once it is up to your standard, place it back in the freezer.
Rinse the inside of the sausage casings with tap water and place one of the casings over the stuffer tube. Make sure the tube and the casing are both very “wet”. This will make it easier to get the casing on the tube. Once the sausage reaches the tip of the tube, tie a knot in the casing. Pass the seasoned pork through the stuffer and into the casing, twisting the sausages at 6 inch intervals. Continue until all the pork is gone.
Now that all the sausages are stuffed, place them on a plate and into the refrigerator they go. I let mine sit overnight but a couple of hours will do just fine. It depends on you patience! Then you can cook them up like any other sausage. I like to cook mine in a saute pan with 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes on each side. Then take them to the grill to finish cooking.
This is the end result. After cooking I like to slice the sausage on a bias. I topped this one with Dijon Mustard, carmalized onions, and sauerkraut. But be creative and come up with your own outrageous toppings for this one. Hope you enjoyed the first of many of my ramblings!