When In Texas… Smoky And Tender Sausage Recipe
How can you make Texas sausage at home that replicate the big, smoky flavor and tender texture that you find at authentic BBQ joints? Sausages are one of my favorite things to eat, and I am a firm defender of their status as an artisan food. However, you shouldn’t let that intimidate you from trying them at home. It’s true that sausage making requires an initial investment, but once you have the proper tools you can create beautiful sausages that you will appreciate so much more because you will understand the craftsmanship that goes into them.
Executing this great Texas sausage recipe is a smart way to start because making these will teach you the basics not just of grinding and stuffing sausages, but also of the processes of smoking and blooming. Since the seasoning of Texas sausages is quite straightforward, you can focus on the technical aspects of the craft without worrying about perfecting a fussy flavor profile. I suggest that you do some research before going to the store to select equipment like a grinder or smoker. There is such a wide range of products available that you want to make sure you get your money’s worth by choosing the items that best fit your needs. On the blog we’ve already covered Smoked Venison Summer Sausage, but today let’s focus on the Texas Sausage recipe.
Here are a few of the things you will need to get started:
• Grinder with three plate sizes (fine, medium, coarse)
There are a lot of grinder options out there, and it can be difficult to choose the best one for you. I would recommend staying away from single-function grinders like the Weston #8 Electric Meat Grinder. Models like the STX Megaforce grinder will both grind the meat and stuff casings. This will keep you from having to buy two separate pieces of equipment.
• Digital kitchen scale
You can either purchase natural casings or casings made from cellulose. Unless you are making vegetarian sausage, the natural casings are the better choice because cellulose casings cannot be fried without breaking down.
• Butcher twine
While smokers can be quite expensive, all that is needed is a simple model like the Bradley Smoker. There is no need to break the bank on this!
• Mesquite Wood chips
Be sure you are using mesquite wood chips versus fruit wood chips. The flavor from the mesquite chips is robust and assertive: perfect for the bold flavor profile of Texas sausages.
• Texas sausage ingredients for a 5 pound batch:
o 4.2 lbs beef brisket
o .75 lbs pork shoulder
o 30 g kosher salt
o ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
o 3 tablespoons ground black pepper
o ¾ cups water mixed with 1 oz dry milk powder
o 4 g cure #1 weighed out on your digital scale
Some recipes will leave the cure out. However, it is an essential ingredient for preventing botulism. Use it!
How to Make Texas Sausage
1. Prepare the meat mixture.
Cut the brisket and pork shoulder into one-inch cubes. In a large metal or glass bowl, combine the meat cubes with the salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and cure #1. Mix thoroughly with gloved hands, making sure the seasoning is evenly distributed throughout the meat. Place on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
2. Grind the meat.
Grind the meat mixture according to the instructions included with your grinder. To replicate the uniquely tender texture of a Texas sausage, grind the meat twice. First, grind it through the coarsest plate and then through the medium plate.
3. Add the liquid
Place the ground meat in a mixer with a paddle attachment. You can also mix by hand. Avoid using a wooden or plastic spoon as these materials may absorb bacteria or other unwanted microorganisms from the meat. Slowly add the water and dried milk powder mixture. Mix until well combined and the mixture can hold together like clay. Add more water if necessary.
4. Attach the casing to the stuffing tube.
Find one of the ends on the casing and carefully roll it onto the tube attached to the sausage stuffer. You will want most of the casing on the tube, leaving just a few inches at the end. Tie a knot in the protruding end to seal it
5. Stuff the casing.
It may be helpful to have someone help you with this step as it can take several tries to control the flow of meat into the casing on your own. As you push the meat into the casing, slowly allow the end of the casing to pull off the tube as it fills with sausage. Try to control this movement so that it is as smooth and even as possible. This will result in a consistently filled casing. If at any point the casing breaks, you can cut it off at the point of rupture and tie a knot to create a new end. Try to avoid air bubbles within the casing as this can heighten the risk for botulism.
Pro Tip: To ensure that you’ve released any extra air, use a sterilized pin to poke through the casing to let out visible air bubbles.
6. Separate the links
There are a few different ways to create individual sausage links depending on the look you desire for your final product. You can use butcher twine to tie square knots between the links. Another option is to simply twist the casing several times to create individual links. This method works especially well for natural casing. Place the sausage into the refrigerator on the bottom shelf to chill before smoking.
7. Prepare your smoker.
Fill the heating element of your smoker with the appropriate amount of chips according to your manufacturer’s directions. Preheat the smoker to 160°F, the perfect temperature for a long, flavorful smoke. Pull the sausages out of the refrigerator an hour before smoking in order to allow the casings to dry at room temp.
Pro Tip: Soak your wood chips for about half an hour before placing them in the smoker for a stronger flavor. Wet wood produces far more smoke than dry chips.
8. Smoke the sausage links.
You can secure the sausages in the smoker by either placing them on a rack or hanging them from bars at the top of the smoker. Change out your wood chips every 90 minutes to allow for a deeper mesquite flavor. Your goal is for the sausages to reach an internal temperature of 154°F. This not only ensures that they have smoked long enough, but it also helps to kill bacteria that could be harmful down the road. In general, sausages will take about 3 hours to reach the desired temperature.
9. Cool down your sausages.
Once the sausages are out of the smoker, it is important to cool them down as quickly as possible to avoid shriveled skins. Do this by placing the links in a cold water bath until they are room temperature or cooler.
10. Bloom the links
Blooming, or allowing the sausages to develop flavor at room temperature, is an important final step before enjoying your sausages. Hang them on a rack suspended between the backs of two chairs or any setup where they will have plenty of air exposure. The smoky flavor will continue to develop and spread throughout the sausage for a few hours. You should store your finished sausage in the fridge where it will keep for 3-4 days.Pro Tip: If you vacuum seal your sausages, they will last in the freezer for up to nine months.
11. Clean your equipment.
While this may seem obvious, it is essential that you properly clean all of your equipment after each use. Working with raw meat can present bacterial hazards that will only be eliminated through proper hygiene. Sanitize tools and equipment parts by boiling them in hot water or using a commercial sanitizing chemical. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning grinders.
While making your own Texas sausage may seem like an involved process, I promise that you will be rewarded for your labors both with the amazing flavors that you develop and with a greater appreciation of sausage in general. I really can’t overemphasize the importance of choosing good equipment for your sausage making adventures. Having a machine that’s easy to clean, for instance, could be the difference between you using it often or just letting it sit on the shelf to avoid the hassle.
Did you enjoy learning the finer points of grinding, stuffing, and smoking your own links? How would you customize the flavor profile through different seasonings? I would love to hear any comments or suggestions about your own experience with Texas sausage recipes. Please share this tutorial if you found it helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Texas Sausage?
Texas sausage usually refers to Czech-style spicy sausages brought over by German immigrants. They are almost always beef-based, and sometimes have some pork added. The spices are relatively simple (salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper) because most of the flavor comes from smoking the sauce. They are stuffed into hog casings before being hung and smoked.
Do You Need a Meat Grinder to Make Sausage?
While you can use a food processor to make ground beef for burgers, you really need a meat grinder to make sausage. The meat must be fully ground to the same size before being stuffed into the casings. If you don’t have a meat grinder, sometimes you can ask your butcher to grind up the meat for you.
How Do You Stuff Sausage into a Casing?
To stuff sausage, you will need the stuffer attachment to the KitchenAid or another kind of sausage stuffer machine. Prepare the casings by soaking them in water before placing them onto the outstretched stuffer tube. Slowly pipe the sausage into the casing (it’s helpful if you have two people). Close the casing on each end by twisting the edges shut.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Sausage in a Smoker?
It doesn’t take very long to smoke sausage because most sausage isn’t that thick. In a 225 degree F smoker, it should only take about 30 to 60 minutes for the sausage to cook to a proper internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Why Did My Sausage Shrivel and Wrinkle?
If your sausage looks shriveled and wrinkled after cooking it, you probably cooked it at too hot of a temperature or for too long. Hot temperatures will cause the casings to contract and dig into the sausage meat. For best results, dip your sausages in an ice water bath after they are finished cooking to stop the cooking process.