Ryan Farr is a butcher who changes our perception of how and what to eat. At his San Francisco shop, 4505 Meats, Farr practices whole animal butchery, using every part of the slaughtered animal. 4505 Meats sells sustainable meats from local farms, teaches butchering classes and creates wonderful prepared foods, including their famous sausages.
The following excerpt for sausage-making tips is from Farr's ground-breaking handbook/cookbook, Whole Beast Butchery, The Complete Visual Guide to Beef, Lamb, and Pork. (With permission from publisher Chronicle Books).
When making sausage, the meat must stay at or below 45°F at all times during the process. The ideal temperature is 38°F. Before cubing the meat and then again before grinding it, “open-freeze” it by placing the meat, uncovered, in the freezer for 30 to 60 minutes or just until the surface has a little crunch to it. The intention is not to freeze the meat solid but to get the exterior hard enough so that it’s brittle on the outside but still soft in the middle. When open-freezing, it’s not necessary to distribute the meat so it’s not touching other pieces; the meat on the top will freeze first, and that will be enough to lower the temperature for the whole batch.
When you are not using them, keep all the rest of your ingredients and equipment, including the grinding equipment and the stuffer, cold by storing them in the refrigerator.
Cut the meat into squares that are slightly smaller than the opening in the meat grinder. Do not force the meat into the grinder; it breaks down the delicate cells and warms up the fat before you are ready for that to happen. If you let the auger gently “grab” the meat and move it toward the blade, you will get nice, clean cuts without overly compressing the meat.
I recommend that you do not use the sausage stuffer that comes with stand mixers. With these machines, you have to push too hard to move the meat mixture toward the horn, pulverizing the meat and thus wasting all your efforts to keep it from being compressed during the grinding and mixing process. I suggest you invest in a 5-pound vertical, crank-operated manual sausage stuffer, which is widely available on the Internet.
A lot of recipes tell you to prick a sausage before cooking it, but I’m not a big fan of this technique — you lose delicious juices. Only prick where you see visible air pockets. If you cook the sausage fast over high heat, it will probably burst; so don’t do that! Cook it slowly and gently—and only prick the sausage if you see air holes. By cooking slowly, the skin will expand, but not split, and all the juices stay in the sausage.
Sausage casings are sold in large quantities — units of measurement called hanks — which can be ordered online or from a specialty butcher. One hank will stuff a minimum of 75 pounds of sausage, but you can pack the unused casings in salt and freeze or vacuum — seal them for your next batch.*Note: Ryan Farr does not specifically endorse products suggested by About.com herein.