For almost as long as I have owned a Big Green Egg (BGE), I have been smoking sausage alongside whatever other meat I smoke because it works well as an appetizer and I like to keep some in the freezer that I can add to soups or beans and rice. Up to this point, I have always just bought fresh bratwurst from the meat department of the grocery store or meat market and tossed it on the smoker.
About a year ago, I bought a copy of the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Since then, I have been trying to figure out how best to make my own sausage, so I know exactly what is in it and can control the flavor a lot more. I have followed Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Fresh Garlic Sausage Master Recipe a couple of times but kept it as bulk sausage and never stuffed it into casings. As I progressed to the next recipe, Kielbasa with Marjoram, I decided that this time I would stuff it into casings and make what resemble the traditional rings of kielbasa that can go into our basket for Easter.
A couple months back, I bought the food grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for our Kitchen Aid mixer. The food grinder attachment has worked well each time that I have processed a batch of sausage. Previously, I have used a Boston Butt as the cut of meat for making my sausage, but this time, I used boneless country-style ribs that are just strips of a pork shoulder roast (aka a Boston Butt) because that was what was available.
I diced the meat into 1/2 inch pieces and combined it with 3 tablespoons of kosher salt, 3 tablespoons of marjoram, 1 tablespoon of freshly cracked black pepper (ground into large pieces in the spice grinder) and 1/2 cup of minced, fresh garlic (the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of garlic, but we like the garlic at my house). I put the meat and seasonings in a glass bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator over night.
The next day, several hours prior to grinding the meat, I thoroughly rinsed my natural hog casings and let them soak in 70 degree water for 2 hours, then replaced the water with 90 degree water and let them soak for an additional 2 hours. Then I pulled the bowl of seasoned meat out and ran it through the food grinder, using the smaller die to make a finer grind of meat. Once the meat was ground, I added a 1/2 cup of ice water and used the paddle attachment on the mixer to blend it completely into the meat mixture.
I added the the sausage stuffer attachment to the food grinder, put one of the casings onto the tube and started stuffing the sausage. It became apparent very quickly that stuffing the sausage using the equipment I had would require an additional person (one person to feed the ground sausage into the hopper and one person to hold the casings as they were filled), so my wife, Carol, reluctantly agreed to help me out. We made two rings of sausage, switching roles so we were both able to experience the effort required to do each job.
Once the two rings of kielbasa were stuffed, I dropped them into zip top plastic bags and put them into the refrigerator. I let the rings of fresh kielbasa sit in the refrigerator for two days and then smoked them with hickory chips in the BGE for about an hour and half at 225 degrees. The outcome was delicious. The combination of garlic, pepper and marjoram reminded me of kielbasa that we bought at a polish deli in the Broadway Market when we lived in Maryland. The essence of smoke that permeated the kielbasa made it truly special. I thought it was an excellent balance of flavors and Carol agreed. When my older daughter, Evie, tried it and asked for more (as long as I peeled the casing off each piece), I knew it was a success.