One of the best birthday presents I received this year was a food grinder attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, so you can trust me when I say it makes for an excellent gift. I love the thing. As someone who enjoys cooking, especially meat or BBQ, I was excited to try my hand at making sausage from scratch. The KitchenAid grinder did not disappoint.
While I had initially thought a stainless steel version would be more durable and an all-around better option, the plastic-and-metal KitchenAid grinder my wife bought me does the trick. After using it to make four different types of sausage (sweet and spicy Italian, sage breakfast, and chorizo), I can honestly say that it's great. I've also managed to pick up a few tips and tricks along the way that should prove useful to anyone who's new to making their own sausage.
The most important thing I've learned is that the meat and the grinder itself should be as cold as possible prior to grinding. In fact, I'd recommend you throw your cut-up pork and even the grinder itself into the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour before grinding. You want to find that sweet spot where the meat is very nearly frozen solid, but still malleable enough to be pushed through the grinder. This will save you lots of time and energy.
Why? Starting with cold meat makes the whole process go so much more smoothly—and that includes clean-up. Using the grinder creates heat, which—if you start with room-temp meat—can break down all the delicious fats that lend moisture and flavor to the sausage, gumming up the grinding plate to make a big old mess. Warmer meat is also softer, which means the grinder will squish it rather than grind cleanly. But if you start with meat that's almost-but-not-quite frozen, the grinder can cut it up quickly and cleanly.
Making your own sausage is rewarding and delicious, and there's a lot to learn about how to effectively use a meat grinder. For more tips, check out the video!