Embarking on the artisan art of sausage making in Singapore is not straightforward.
While loads of people are in to baking and cooking, few if any are in to making sausages. So there are no local shops which cater to this interest.
Hopefully my little foray will be helpful to those that follow.
The two specialized items which create obstacles to the amateur saucissier are (1) the sausage stuffer and (2) the casings.
A sausage stuffer is available as a supplement to the Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment. Total cost for the two: S$174 from Mayer. This is 80% more than the Amazon price but they won’t ship to Singapore due to licensing agreements. Pick it up abroad if poss.
If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid, you can try your luck at Sia Huat for alternatives.
Note: It has been reported on the net that you can use a pastry bag (or simple plastic bag) to stuff casings by hand. This is an urban myth or at best a foolish and frustrating enterprise which will result in divorce if attempted by a married couple.
Also note: It’s not necessary to have a meat grinder as you can simply use ground pork but a grinder gives you more options for determining the meat and fat content of the sausages.
The casing is a bit more problematic. I couldn’t find a butcher who would sell me less than 10kg of the stuff (for ~$80; enough for a lifetime supply of sausages). However one butcher did agree to give me a couple of feet of sheep casing because of my regular patronage.
The most popular edible casings are natural, meaning they are the intestines of sheep (0.5"-1.5"), hog (1.5"-2.5" diameter) or cow (2.5"-4"). These need to be sourced locally as online retailers won’t ship internationally. Synthetic casings are made of collagen and can be ordered online.
Natural casing is packed in salt and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Properly stored it will keep for at least a year. Before using, the casing is soaked and rinsed to remove the salt and loosen the membrane.
The tissue looks and feels very delicate but is obviously robust enough to hold a well packed sausage. This all makes it incredibly difficult to avoid thinking of how sheep intestine has been used throughout the ages as a prophylactic. I wonder if men used to brag about having to use beef intestine? I digress.
Note: If you are really stuck for casings then simply make "sausage patties". This isn’t exactly the real thing but it will let you perfect your recipe until you get hold of the good stuff.
- Grind the meat
- Mix with spices by hand
- Refrigerate overnight to blend flavours
- Stuff into casing
It’s a no brainer.
What I learned
- Use the best meat possible for the best sausages. Duh. Any ground meat in a casing looks nice but the taste can be terrible. It may be necessary to add extra fat to the recipe (typically pork belly or back fat).
- Season and cook a sample before stuffing. Refine as necessary. Once the sausages are stuffed, it won’t be possible to adjust the seasoning.
- Do all the meat grinding first then remove the grinding plate when stuffing. The grinding plate can get gummed up with connective tissue making it harder to press the meat through. Once you get to the stage where you are stuffing the casing, you don’t want any resistance to the meat coming through the stuffer.
- The nozzle of the Kitchen Aid stuffer is about 8 inches above the counter top so you need to guide the sausage as it comes out. This makes it difficult to do the job solo (ie pushing the meat in on one side and guiding the sausages out the other). It is important to guide the sausage carefully to ensure the casing is filled completely (a very lose sausage looks quite sad). Ideally this is a two person job.
- It is not necessary to create the sausage links while the sausage is coming out of the machine. Squeeze out all the stuffing in one long strip then tie off the links afterwards as shown here.
My sausages looked gorgeous but tasted lousy. I just used some meat that was on special at Cold Storage (a combo of beef and pork) and I didn’t cook test samples before I got carried away with the stuffer. The sausages were dry and tasted more like burgers than anything I’d hoped for.
Plus the place was a complete mess because I was trying to simultaneously jam meat in the grinder while guiding the sausages out of the the business end of the stuffer. The meat didn’t go in easily because there was connective tissue clogging the grinding plate which I should have removed during the stuffing stage. By the time I was done, there was meat everywhere.
Despite my failure, I’m quite excited to do it again and do it right. But it means (1) first eating through a lot of lousy sausages and (2) trying to score more free casings from my butcher.
- Making Sausages: A novice’s first attempt – another Montreal native
- Making Artisan Sausages – great pics. What is it with Canadians & sausages?
- Homemade Sausage – A to Z by About.com
- Photo Tutorial – these people are not fooling around
- Sausagemaker.com – Online shop
- Fresh Sausage Recipes
- Natural Casings – everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask