Help Me Stuff My Meat
June 22, 2011 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Which sausage stuffer should I buy?

I've just completed my second batch of sausage (bratwurst with Tillamook cheese and Copper Hook beer, plus pork with apples and rosemary) and I'm hooked. I have the KitchenAid meat grinder attachment for grinding, which is not great, but good enough for my purposes. However, the sausage stuffer attachment is just absolute rubbish -- too slow and loads of air pockets -- and I proved to my satisfaction earlier today that making a pastry bag out of a giant ziploc bag and the Kitchenaid stuffer horn does not work. So I need a dedicated stuffer or else resign myself to making only bulk, uncased sausage.

I'm short and not exceptionally strong in the upper-body area, particularly my hands, but I can produce short bursts of decent force. I absolutely positively cannot spend more than $200 on this, and would strongly prefer to keep it under $100. But I would rather spend $200 on something that will actually work than $60 on something that will have me tearing my hair out.

What should I buy / put on my Amazon wishlist / start fundraising towards?
posted by KathrynT to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yay! I get to tell the story of how my brother-in-law found one of these in an industrial bin, didn't know what it was, brought it home for me to look at and asked if I could use it. 'Um...yes, I think I could' was my squeaky reply.

This LEM stuffer has rave reviews at Amazon.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:42 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

we have that exact Lem stuffer and have used it a lot. we've been very happy with it and it seems to be the best in its price range based on extensive research done by my personal sausage-maker, mr supermedusa.

of course if you want the best you'll want to go with Dick's :)
posted by supermedusa at 5:01 PM on June 22, 2011

Essentially the same stuffer as the LEM is available from Grizzly Industrial for considerably cheaper ($75 instead of $150). We like ours a lot.

Indeed, the KitchenAid stuffer is worse than useless, though the grinder is acceptable. The vertical piston design stuffers like the one from Grizzly are an absolute miracle by comparison. Easy to load, easy to clean, and they can stuff sausage (with no air pockets!) as fast as you can crank the handle, which does not require a particularly large amount of force. The long handle provides a lot of leverage and the action is very smooth.
posted by jedicus at 5:16 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Please post recipes.
posted by Wordwoman at 5:16 PM on June 22, 2011

Most "jerky guns" can be fitted with a sausage-stuffer nozzle instead of the flat nozzle for making jerky if you're looking for a cheaper solution. Works like a caulking gun and doesn't require all that much hand-force, but it IS handy to have someone else to hold the casing while you're maneuvering.

Should be able to get one for about $25. But if you've got more money to spend, the LEM linked above is on my wish list.
posted by DaveP at 5:18 PM on June 22, 2011

Thank you jedicus. Like DaveP, I was going to suggest the jerky gun, but the Grizzly is a deal.

Elk Sausage

4 to 6 pounds elk meat, well-trimmed (or other venison)
2 to 3 pounds pork fat, well-trimmed (2-1 ratio meat to fat)
1 tablespoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 tablespoon dry sage
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup crushed red chili pepper flakes, (optional)
1 to 2 cups roasted, peeled, and diced green chili peppers (optional)
Sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Additional garlic (optional)
10 to 15 feet sausage casing
1/2 cup maple syrup (for breakfast sausage - optional)
Grind each meat separately then mix together. It is best if you grind the meat when it is very cold. Mix the ground meat together with all the seasonings. Form into small patties. Saute a small piece and test for taste. You may need to adjust the spices. Next, place a length (10 to 15 feet) of sausage casing on a sausage horn and force mixture into casing. Twist sausages in alternating directions to create 6 to 8-inch long sausages. If well protected, finished sausages can be frozen in a non-frost free freezer for up to a year. The sausages can be cooked directly on a grill or sauteed in a pan. For best results, boil sausages first and finish on grill or pan. Can serve with maple syrup.

I use this recipe to make the meatballs for this recipe.

Chicken-Apple-Fennel Breakfast Sausage
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2005
Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
hr min
Cook Time:
15 min
8 breakfast sausages patties
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
• 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
• 1/2 cup grated Granny Smith apple
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
• 1/2 pound ground pork
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
• 1 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
• 2 teaspoons paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toast the fennel seeds until golden brown in color, about 1 minute. Add the onions and grated apple to the pan and saute until the onions are translucent and most of the moisture has evaporated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and place the onion mixture on a plate to cool. While the onion mixture is cooling, combine the chicken, pork, sage, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and nutmeg in a medium-size mixing bowl. Once the onion mixture has cooled, fold it into the meat mixture until blended.
Form your meat mixture into 8 (3 1/2-ounce) patties. To cook the patties, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add 4 patties and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove from pan and serve warm. Repeat with the remaining tablespoons of oil and sausage patties, if desired. Alternately, uncooked sausage patties will keep, refrigerated, for 3 days or frozen and used within 3 months.
posted by JABof72 at 5:42 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

DH recommends the 15-lb. sausage stuffer from Northern Tool. A 5-lb. version, much cheaper and on sale now, is also available.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:42 PM on June 22, 2011

My mother-in-law gave me that Lem for Xmas--it's great! Solid and cleanable, too.
posted by mimi at 7:24 PM on June 22, 2011

I bought the 5 lb stuffer from Grizzly about 2 years ago, it appears to be identical to the LEM stuffer. I have been completely happy with it, it's 10x easier than the Kitchenaid and has worked great every time. My only complaint is that it doesn't come with a snack stick sized tube, I had to cut my smallest Kitchenaid tube to fit. Still a great piece of equipment.
posted by TungstenChef at 7:34 PM on June 22, 2011

Hot Links
2 lb lean beef, cubed
2 lb pork shoulder, cubed
1 lb pork fat, cubed
1 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
44 g salt
1 tsp curing salt
1 T brown sugar
2 T onion powder
6 T paprika
cayenne to taste

Mix ingredients, grind through large die and again through small. Mix enough to bind and then stuff into bratwurst casings. Let sausages set for a few hours for flavors to blend. Hot smoke over hickory for best flavor, otherwise grill.
posted by TungstenChef at 7:40 PM on June 22, 2011

Great question, and I'll be back when I'm ready to get mine. I've got a crappy cast iron hand crank that isn't even designed well. I've been looking at the vertical tube/piston designs, which I've heard are the best for home-use/single user situations.

As for recipes, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of the Charcuterie book. I've been using a lot of the recipes as baselines for weights of spices to add. I just recently made a chipotle/roasted garlic bratwurst. Instead of cream, though, I used beer and eggs as the binding liquid, and, well, don't. Stick with the cream and eggs, as the beer gave it a vaguely off flavor. I used four heads of roasted garlic, the recommended amount of salt (too salty) and three minced chipotle peppers (which weren't enough to make it properly spicy) for about 2.5 kilos.

I'd go with
4 heads roasted garlic
4 chipotle peppers, minced
1 tsp ancho chili
35 g salt
12 g black pepper
2 eggs, beaten and chilled
150 ml cream, chilled

and maybe 2 tbsp oregano

The Italian hot and sweet recipes from the book are pretty good, though the garlic sausage 'master' recipe calls for red wine (?!) which gives you a purple sausage.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:01 AM on June 23, 2011

The Sausagemaker version of the LEM 5 lb stuffer is a good buy, and you can find all sorts of other sausage-making ingredients and items there. They have always been a good mail order company to me.
posted by eaglehound at 11:14 AM on June 23, 2011

Response by poster: I've added that LEM 5 lb stuffer to my amazon wishlist. Unless either of the cheaper ones explicitly have stainless-steel gears, I think that's the way to go. My brother suggests I have a grilling rent party, charging a $5 cover, to raise the money. I can't decide if that's brilliant or tacky as hell.

For my bratwurst:
6 lbs pork shoulder
4 lbs ground beef
4 tbsp salt
1 tbsp marjoram
1 tsp mace
¼ tsp cardamom
1 tsp allspice
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp caraway
4 tbsp minced garlic
1.5 tsp coriander
About a cup of non-fat dried milk
6 oz Tillamook vintage white cheddar cheese
1 12-oz bottle of Copper Hook ale (red hook brewery)

Mix everything but the last 3 ingredients together, chill until crispy, grind through the fine die. Freeze the cheese and re-freeze the meat, then mix them together along with the milk and re-grind. Stir in the beer, chill, case, and cook however you fancy.

For the pork with apples and rosemary:
10 lbs pork shoulder
5 tbsp salt
4 sizeable leeks, chopped (white and pale green parts only)
3 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp black pepper
zest of 1 lemon
3 cups of apple cider, simmered to make 1 cup of reduction
half a cup of chopped parsley
half a cup of chopped rosemary

Saute the leeks and apples in some canola oil or whatnot. Mix everything but the cider together and chill. Grind through the fine die twice, re-chilling in between; with the high veg content in this, having it be super cold is really important if you don't want the texture to be weird. Stir in the cider reduction, mix it really well, case, and cook. Because of the sugar in the apples and the cider, this will blacken up alarmingly when you cook it, but it is really good. Kids love this; the last time I made any, the six-year-old next door took one bite and went and got his piggy bank and said "How much?"

Next on my list to try is pork with garlic, ginger, sage, and Riesling; lamb with Penzey's Rogan Josh seasoning; and duck with orange zest, orange juice reduction, garlic, and dried cranberries.
posted by KathrynT at 10:57 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

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