Homemade Pork Sausages




Homemade Pork Sausages
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I knew I was at the right place when I saw the concrete pig statues in front of the house. I had travelled to Alameda Island across the bay from San Francisco to the home of Frank Falice and Marilyn Schlagel of Traditions Sausage who are renowned for their Italian-style sausage making classes.
Frank grinding fresh spices to season the sausages

I’ve always enjoyed all kinds of sausages in my travels around the world in my prior life as an airline pilot in the 80’s and my trips around the US including my recent Texas barbecue crawl. So this was my chance to finally dabble into the art sausage making which is one of the oldest art forms of mankind next to wine and cheese making.
Boneless pork shoulder

Almost all cultures in the world make some kind of sausage which arose out of mankind’s necessity to preserve meat since there was no refrigeration. The discovery of spices to preserve and enhance the flavor of cured meats led to the development of many variations (dry, semi-dry, fresh, smoked, cooked) and meat types around the world such as pork, beef, lamb, wild game, poultry, and seafood. Many today still carry their lineage from the towns they originated from including Genoa salami from Genoa; bologna from Bologna in Northern Italy; Lyons sausage from Lyons, France; various chorizo from Spain and South America; and “Lap Chong” from China and Southeast Asia.
High quality meat grinder

The pig themed single story home replete with cute pig knick knacks led to a backyard in-law cottage where Frank teaches the art of salumi which are Italian cured meat products, mostly made from pork, like prosciutto and coppa and Italian sausages. Delicious coppa

After a brief introduction and a snack of thinly sliced home cured meat mounted on a custom stand, Frank began slicing a 10 lb boneless pork shoulder into strips to feed the grinding machine. Pork shoulder cut into strips before putting it through the grinder

As Frank talked about spices and sausage making techniques, I learned that his sausage-making DNA originated from his Italian grandfather when he grew up in the farming town Gilroy where their family raised pigs for sale and to feed the family. Meat is mixed with seasonings prior to grinding

After seasoning the pork strips with freshly ground spices, Kosher salt, and herbs, I helped to load it into grinding machine which produced a continuous pink ribbon of ground pork mixed with fat (about 30% is good). Frank showed how to mix in some water to ensure the correct consistency and it was loaded into an antique cast iron sausage press dating back to the 1930’s. He then showed how to slip on the natural hog casing (pigs intestines) which was previously preserved in salt. I smiled inwardly to myself as it felt honestly like rolling on an 8 foot condom!
Slipping the hog casing onto the sausage stuffer

A steady clockwise crank of the handle forced the ground meat into the casings and Frank showed how to roll the meat being extruded into the casing into a spiral coil. Too much pressure would rupture the casing and too little pressure might cause air bubbles to form so some skill was needed. For beginners, the excess air bubbles could be fixed by pricking the casing with a toothpick.
Keeping constant pressure is the key when filling the hog casing

The first batch of mild Italian sausage was followed with another batch of hot Italian sausage. Sausage making is not easy work as I wiped some beads of perspiration from my forehead. After an extended and fun time pumping pink meat into hog casings, I was relieved that my stint as an Italian salumi apprentice was over and it was time for lunch!
Sausage book recommended by Frank

Marilyn cooked an amazing lunch of pasta with braised pork, sausage meatballs with roasted red bell pepper sauce, and Italian sausages with kale spiked with red wine vinegar. The flavor and texture of the homemade pork sausage was much better and refreshingly different than the store bought sausages I was used to. It was delicious and it felt extra satisfying as it was the result of your own labor. A nice cranberry salad rounded out lunch and the best was yet to come in the form of dessert of frozen cheesecake that was to die for! To cap it off, there was about 5 lbs of raw sausage to take home to smoke and enjoy! I highly recommend Frank’s class as it was very educational, fun, and a great value with the big lunch and lots of sausage meat to take home. See the next page for an easy SYD pork sausage
Fantastic lunch by Marilyn

Airy Italian cheesecake-like frozen dessert
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • 5 lbs medium-grind pork shoulder (grind it yourself or have your butcher do it)
  • Natural hog casing
  • 6 teaspoons SYD Hot Rub
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground sage
  • 2 cloves pressed garlic
  1. Remove enough casing from the salt for your needs and soak in water. Rinse the casing and slip it over the sausage stuffing machine. Casing should be wet so it works as a lubricant. Push it back like an accordian pleat
  2. Leave three inches of casing hanging out and then tie a knot
  3. Combine all ingredients, mix well, and stuff into hog casing. Try to season the meat the night before and let it rest in the fridge if you can to let the flavors blend
  4. Smoke in 200 degree pit for about 2-3 hours until internal temp is 165 degrees
  5. Serve immediately, or cool and then refrigerate or freeze.