Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Making Sausage: Brautwurst

Of all the sausages we make, brautwurst are my wife's favorite. Based on a traditional German brautwurst recipe, this recipe has a slight Texas style twist. Instead of caraway seed, I use cumin in this recipe. As caraway was not readily available, sometimes the early German settlers in Texas were forced to use cumin as a substitute for caraway seed which was a popular spice in Austria, Germany, Hungary. To be honest, most people do not even notice the suttle difference in taste between these two spices when making brautwurst, but if you want a more traditional flavor, then substitute caraway seed for the cumin. However like those early settlers, I did not have any caraway so I use cumin in all my brautwurst.

As with most sausage recipes, this recipe is originally made with pork, however pork and rabbit which are both white meats, are very similar in texture when cooked, and both make great sausages. Sausage making has always been a way for farmers and hunters to preserve as well and use all the meat from any animals they butchered or were able to successfully kill during the hunt. On our small homestead we raise New Zealand White (NZW) and the American Blue (AB) rabbits for meat. A great thing about rabbit meat is that it is all white and very lean. To make a good tasting juicy sausage, you do however need to add some fat to any sausage to keep it from drying out. In this recipe as with our chorizo recipe the fat content is 20 to 30%.

The Recipe

For the fat component we purchase a product called 'Wright's Ends and Pieces'. It is, as the name implies the ends and pieces of bacon that have been trimmed off during the processing and packaging of bacon. It comes in 3lb packages and is a great source of quality fat needed for sausage production on a small scale. If however you are only making a 2 ½ to 5 lb batch of sausage a 1lb package of smoked sliced bacon will do nicely.


2 1/5 lbs rabbit, deboned
8 ounces (½ lb) ends and pieces or smoked bacon
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon cumin seed, ground
½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
½ teaspoon allspice, ground
¼ teaspoon ginger, ground
natural hog casings.

De-bone the rabbit and chill thoroughly. Grind the rabbit meat and bacon together in small batches using the coarse plate (chili grind) on your meat grinder. Combine the meat in a bowl with the spices. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for an hour. After the sausage has cooled, take a small portion and pan fry to determine if the spices in the sausage need to be adjusted. If you are satisfied with the flavor, then it is time to go ahead and grind the meat mixture one more time through a fine plate (hamburger grind) on your meat grinder.

Chef's Note: You can omit the second grind if you want it is not essential, it does however help distribute the spices more evenly and makes for a finer texture of the sausage, but it does not affect the overall taste. There are some types of sausage such as kielbasa which is usually stuffed with only a coarse grind, but I feel that double grinding makes for a better texture and spice distribution.

If the sausage casings you are using are salt-packed, rinse and soak them for 30 minutes. If you rinse and allow them to soak while you are grinding your meat, it will save you some time. Slide the casing onto your sausage stuffer's tube. Put the meat mixture into the stuffer and run the motor (or press the mixture, if using a manual stuffer), pushing the mixture until it begins to emerge from the sausage stuffer. You want to start pushing meat into the casing before tying off the end to make sure no air is trapped in the casing.

Chef's Note: You can make sausage by yourself, but it can be a bit tricky depending on the type of sausage stuffer you have. Better that you have a friend or family member help, and then share some of your sausage with them. Fellow rabbit breeder, blogger, and friend Steve Coyne from Texas Rabbit Barn is generally my partner in crime when it come to making sausage.

Tie the casing into a knot and start extruding the meat into the casing, slipping more casing off as necessary. You want the casing to be tightly packed with the sausage mixture, but not so full that it bursts. At first, this can seem tricky, but as you go you'll get the hang of it. Now you have one long sausage. Gently twist it into 6 to 8 inch lengths. Take a small sewing needle or sausage pricker and prick a few small holes in the sausage anywhere you see air bubbles. Cut apart or leave in a string and refrigerate until ready to cook, no more than two days.

Long Term Storage

To store any additional sausage you will need to freeze it. For short term storage you can freeze the links in zip lock bags, just try and squeeze out as much air as possible. For longer storage options, I prefer to use a vacuum sealer such as my trusty old foodsaver. To store fresh sausage in the foodsaver or other vacuum sealer, place the links on a cookie sheet and then place them in the freezer for about two hours to allow them to firm up and then vacuum seal. If you try and vacuum seal them when they are still soft, it will squeeze them flat and or possible cause the skins to burst do to the vacuum. Freezing them for a short time before vacuum sealing prevents this.


This recipe was originally posted on my 'Culinary You' food blog back in November of 2014, but I wanted to do slight update and then repost it here for those of you who are looking specifically for rabbit and or sausage recipes. As in my original post, our preferred way to eat brauts is to grill them for about 6 minutes per side using indirect heat. (i.e. heat grill with both burners, then turn one burner off and place sausage on side of grill without the flame, then reverse the process). However you can cook them as you would any commerically prepared brautwurst.

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