— I love food steeped in history. Recently, we visited some good friends in Vincennes, Ind.
Knowing what I food junkie I am, they surprised me with an afternoon of making homemade stuffed sausages using their family heirloom – a cast iron “Enterprise #35 8 Quart Sausage Stuffer” dating back
to the early 1900's.
This was the real deal, having been handed down through the generations.
The sausage making process started with a huge bowl containing 30 pounds of ground pork. The family recipe of spices was added, and each of us took turns digging in and mixing the pork with the
spices until it was fully incorporated. You always needed someone to take over because it didn't take
long for your hands to get pretty darn cold.
Once the spices were mixed in, we cooked a small piece. Each of us tasted it and confirmed the spice mix was perfect. In the meantime, the sausage casing, which are the intestines of the pig, where
soaking in cold water. You can now buy them online, ready to be used. I can't imagine the work that went into preparing the casings back in the day.
The casings are slid onto the sausage stuffer after some lard is applied to the casing tube. This allows the casings to come off easily as the sausage is cranked into them. They come in ropes of 10 to
You then fill the stuffer and start cranking the sausage out. There has to be timing
between the person cranking and the person guiding the sausage into the casings. Bad timing results in
inconsistent thickness or total blow outs.
As the sausage is cranked out, the casing is twisted to form the sausage link. Each link must be twisted in the opposite direction, otherwise the links unravel and fall apart. Simply put, speaking as a brat fan, they were beautiful.
One advantage of making your own sausages is that you control the spices and the
amount of salt that goes into the meat. We grilled ours, first over indirect heat to cook them slowly, then finishing them off over direct heat to give them the casings that “pop” when you bite into them.
The real treat of the weekend was to learn that my mother-in-law had an identical antique sausage stuffer in her basement, and we were going to be driving right by her house on the way home. So, guess who now has his own “Enterprise #35 8 Quart Sausage Stuffer?” That's right...this guy!
Base spice mix for 30 lbs
• ¾ cup coarsely ground black pepper
• 1/3 cup of salt
• 4 tsp dried sage
• 2 tsp red pepper flakes
• 2 tsp garlic powder
Once the base spice mix was mixed into the pork, we pulled off 10 pounds of sausage and added the following spices to make Italian sausage links.
Italian spices for 10 lbs
• 3 tsp dried oregano
• 2 tsp fennel seed
I went online to learn that you can purchase antique sausage stuffers at a very reasonable price. It looks
as though Enterprise was bought by a company called Chop-Rite, and they now make new units and parts as well.
Oh, and don't worry about having too many casings. They can be frozen and will be
usable for up to two years.
This process felt like a connection to past generations. We are now planning a brat-making party here in the neighborhood where everyone leaves with a helping of homemade sausages ready for the grill.
Wouldn't you like to be my neighbor?
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.