Basically, sausage is meat, salt, and pepper. I will never forget when I made my first Polish smoked sausage that turned out very well. So, I proudly gave it to my friend, professional sausage-maker Waldemar, to try. I have included salt, pepper, garlic, and added optional marjoram. I also added nutmeg and other spices that I liked. Well, my friend’s judgment was as follows: “Great sausage, but why all those perfumes?”
Classic Polish Smoked Sausage
The classic Polish Smoked Sausage needed salt, pepper, and garlic. Combining meat with salt and pepper already makes a great product, providing that you will follow the basic rules of sausage making. It’s that simple. Like roasting a chicken, it needs only salt, pepper, rotisserie, and it always comes out perfect. If you don’t cure your meats properly, or screw up your smoking and cooking temperatures, all the spices in the world (saffron included) will not save your sausage.
The Rules and the Secrets
1. Fat – the meat needs about 25 – 30% fat in it. The fat is the glue that holds meat particles together and gives sausages their texture. If you don’t like that rule, forget about making good sausage. Go out and buy a tofu hot dog!
2. Salt – you need salt. The proper amount of salt in meat (tastes pleasant) is 2 – 3 %, though 1.5 –2% is a usual average acceptable level. About 3.5-5% will be the upper limit of acceptability. Anything more, and the product will be too salty. Almost all original sausage recipes contain 2 % of salt, and if you use that figure, your sausages will be great. If you want to save on salt, you can not make a decent sausage, buy a tofu hot dog instead!
Get the calculator and punch in some numbers. Or if you use the metric system, you don’t even need the calculator. You need 2 grams of salt per 100 grams of meat. If you buy ten times more meat (1 kg) you will also need ten times more salt (20 grams). Now, for the rest of your life, you don’t have to worry about salt in your recipes.
If you want a consistent product to weigh out your salt. Estimating salt per cup or spoons can be deceiving, as not all salts weigh the same per unit volume.
About the Ingredients
Pepper is less crucial. If you don’t put enough, you can always use a shaker. However, if you put too much, get a beer or give it to your Mexican neighbor. He will love you for that. Normally, it is about 5 – 10 % of the salt in the recipe. You have already done the major part that’s needed to produce a good quality sausage. The rest is fine-tuning your creation.
Sugar – less crucial, normally used to offset the harshness of salt. Amount used is about 10 % of the salt used in the recipe. Sugar is normally used with salt when curing meat.
Spices – use freshly ground spices. Spices are very volatile and lose their aroma rapidly.
Most sausages will include a dominant spice, plus other spices and ingredients. There are some Polish blood sausages (kaszanka) that add buckwheat groats or rice, there are English blood sausages (black pudding) that include barley, flour, or oatmeal. Some great Cajun sausages, like Boudain, also include rice, pork, liver, and a lot of onion.
Most sausages are made of solid meat, which is easier and faster to process. However, a lot of sausages, like head cheese, contain different organs like the tongue, heads with brains, liver, skins, and hearts. Liver, of course, always goes into liverwurst. There are some delicious hams where the only ingredient is salt, and people say that even adding pepper distorts the natural flavor.
Check out all of our top-secret smoked sausage-related recipes here.
Also, don’t forget to check out our food smoking tips & tricks on the Bradley Smoker Blog.