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How To Make Sausage Without Casing

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

I plan on opening up a food service business in the near future and sausage will be an important meat on my menu. The problem is I don't like sausage in casing. I much prefer sausage in patty form. I don't like the snap nor the occasional tug from a loose casing, so I don't want my customers experiencing the same. The only problem is when I make sausage in patty form the appearance of the sausage  looks tacky in it's presentation. It's look like a cheap breakfast sausage from Mrs. Field.... lol

 

I've tried forming the sausage by hand in tube form but it comes out looking lame and not appetizing looking. I've also tried putting sausage in cellophane and twirling both ends to shape it (like mozzerella), but the sausage comes out way too thick. Also grilling sausage in tube form w/o casing is next to impossible on a grill w/o breaking the sausage into pieces.

 

The place I'm going to open is not going to be extravagant. It's gonna be a peasant italian food place. Dishes like giambotta, sausage and broccoli rabe, sausage and pepper heros will be some of the items. When these items are presented with a sausage link either whole or cut up they look much more presentable. Throwing a couple of sausage patties onto a delicious piece of italian bread with some peppers sorta makes you think twice about eating the darn thing although imo it tastes so much better w/o casing. I love the taste of the little char you get on sausage w/o casing, especially the cheesy sausage I make.

 

My wife says the presentation is just as important as the taste. I disagree. If the place was an extravagant place i would agree, but my idea is to bring out a menu that is very cost friendly with tasty food.Is it possible to find neutral ground ? What do you folks think ?

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post #2 of 39

Your wife is right.

 

Try par-cooking by poaching just long enough for the sausage to retain its shape, then cool and remove the casing before further cooking.

 

Good luck with your new place!

BDL

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post #3 of 39

I vote with BDL on this one. Semi-poaching is the way to go.

 

If you're making your own sausage mix you can accomplish the same thing using plastic wrap as a temporary casing. This allows you to form the sausage as thick or thin, long or short, as you like, and the cling film can handle the temperature of the poaching liquid. That, for instance, is one of the ways I do fish sausages.

 

Keep in mind, though, that you should not be imposing your taste preferences on your customers, many of whom will prefer (or at least expect) a casing. So give some thought to how you're going to handle that.

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post #4 of 39

Try all the options your purveyors carry as far as casings.  They don't all have to be tough and rubbery.  Chances are someone out there makes a casing you can live with.

post #5 of 39

I agree, keep your wife around.........The first thing you learn as a chef, don't make the menu around your likes and dislikes, make it for the tastes of the masses...............ChefBillyB

post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 

The wife definetely stays !!!!   .... she's the one with the cooking savvy. Par boiling is a very interesting solution that my wife nor I ever thought about. Gotta give that a try and hopefully cutting the casings off after par boiling is not too labor intensive of a task. Thank you for that idea.

 

I also understand that my taste preferences are not something I should impose on my customers. But when I feel strongly about something, I want to go with my gut. I love sausage more than most, but throughout my life I never really was a fan for the casing. When making a giambotta in the oven the casing of the sausage always gets tough. On the grill, sausage usually splits and the casing usually burns off to an extent. My BIG CIONCERN is that a customer bites into the sausage and the casing is tough. All I know is that if that happens to me, I probably don't order that dish again and maybe not go back. Because sausage is gonna be an integral meat in my place I wanna guard against that happening at all costs, This is why I'm very interested in sausage with no casing.

 

So as one poster mentioned ..... I could form the sausage in cellophane and then throw the cellophane in hot water and par boil without melted plastic ? This would sound much less labor intensive being that I don't have to case the sausage nor cut and take off the sausage casing. I'll definetely give that a try.

 

Also ..... appealing to the masses is wise, but sometimes by taking risk you can be a game changer (or loser). I've read countless forums where I see people who love the "snap" of certain hot dogs and would not entertain a hot dog w/o the "snap". I know people like what's been around forever, but that doesn't mean trying something different won't work. I feel strongly about caseless sausage as long as it doesn't look like a patty or some lumpy tube. If I can't accomplish a good looking caseless sausage I'll go with the casing like 99.9% of the other establishments. But while I'm in the experemintation stage I'm gonna look for alternatives.

 

Thanks everyone !

 

post #7 of 39

Not par-boiling.  Par cooking by poaching in simmering water.  Not boiling.  Simmering.  Not boiling.  Not boiling.  [Sensing a theme yet?]

 

Why not boiling?  Well, among other reasons the sausage will explode (not a good thing) instead of firming up (good thing). 

 

You absolutely can poach in plastic wrap -- use the commercial grade not the home stuff.

 

BDL

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post #8 of 39

Patty press to get more uniform results? Cellophane casings are very tender when cooked and could be an option.

post #9 of 39

Cello casings (if you're talking about what I'm thinking of) are interesting, and not a bad choice for any number of sausage types -- including barbecued "hot links."  Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't see them for Italian sausage.  Props to Mary B though.

 

Regular synthetics should be just fine -- especially if you're planning on losing them after the par cook.  Collagen casings too.

 

Speaking of barbecued, it doesn't apply to traditional Italian sausage, but smoking is another form of par-cooking that would net you nice firm sausage.  You could also put the sausage in a heavy, covered casserole like a rondeau or an oval, along with a very little liquid, and bake them off until firm -- which is pretty much the same thing as 'Q but without smoke..

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/27/10 at 9:17am
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post #10 of 39
Thread Starter 

Haven't tried cello casings yet. I'll try and find them. I use the casings from the supermarket butcher. The same casings they use to make their sausage. I've tried them from 5 different butchers and have not been happy, although I know I'm being over critical about this because it's very important to me.

 

BDL ..... gotcha about the par cooking (simmering). I will not drop them in a pot of water ...promise ..lol

post #11 of 39

Carlo1,

 

I was a butcher for 16 years, and for 10 of those years I made sausage. I was in a processing plant not a supermarket so lets figure this out. The concept of sausage is ground meat with a % of fat and seasonings for flavor in a casing to cook. When the meat cooks and the fat dissolves in the cooking process the meat binds together and forms a shape without falling apart. When we made sausage it was with ground meat not suitable for stakes or roasts,i.e trim or scraps. I personally think you are trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear,but lets continue. First of all are you using natural pork casings, or man made casings? The natural casings were created to contain poisons that would otherwise kill the animal. They are porous to allow moisture in to help move things along among other things. That is the reason they are tough and you cannot change that. You can however go with a lamb casing which are more tender but often break during stuffing and cooking. Have you considered the man made rice casings used for little pork breakfast sausage? They do not snap but they also cannot be grilled because they dissolve too quickly. What about injecting the sausage seasoning into long shaped chunks of meat from roasts? This would be able to be grilled, boiled, roasted, and even deep fried. Mix your seasonings with water and inject it into the meat which also acts as a marinade. You would have a leaner product and a flavorful one also.If you buy inside rounds, or pot roast and cut them your self it will be a lot more cost effective. Inject your seasonings after shaping and store in a sealed container until you are ready to cook. Try this and if it works maybe you could name it the Mac steak, my last name is MacDonald. Just a thought. 

post #12 of 39
Thread Starter 

I've used the natural hog casings only. My father-in-law who taught me how to make the sausage always told me to use these. I've also been on some websites that specialize in casings and they say the natural hog casings are the best for italian sausage. The websites also say all other casings are tougher than the hog casings.

 

Now you tell me about rice casings that breakfast sausage is cased with...... very interesting. I'm gonna try those. Where do I get them ? I'll look online. You see I like my italian homemade sausage grilled w/o the casing, but I can only accomplish this in patty form. It's a different taste that I wanna bring to market, but like I mentioned in my original post, it is next to impossible grilling an uncased link sausage without it falling apart. If the rice casings keeps the link together initially till the meat binds thru cooking that would be perfect for what I'm trying to accomplish.

 

post #13 of 39

I used them so long ago it is hard for me to remember, but I think the manufactures name was Nippi. They were an Asian company, I think Japanese. When you stuff them be careful not to have too much moisture because they well soak it up and break easily.

post #14 of 39

Flat collagen casings may be your best choice.  They're made for what you want to do.  That is, you stuff the sausage, cook it, and remove the casing yourself before service, final cooking, or retail.  They're also widely available.

 

In your case it would probably mean offering a choice between "skinless" and "regular" Italian sausage on your menu.  On the positive side, skinless Italian might well generate some retail interest and package sales. 

 

Since you already have the sausage making and stuffing equipment you might as well give a lot of these things a try.  What's it going to cost?  A few hours, a few pounds of meat, and minimum orders of a few types of casings.  

 

By the way, I had "cello" casings mixed up with something else and have to say  I honestly don't know what cello casings are -- unless they're ordinary synthetic casing (like cow and pig casings).  My bad.  Perhaps the people who suggested them can explain or at least supply some typical examples.

 

BDL

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post #15 of 39

They are a very thin collagen casing that is commonly used on breakfast sausage, snack sticks etc. http://www.butcher-packer.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=85_92_98

post #16 of 39
Thread Starter 

I just did a bunch of research on all the different casings. The 3 most popular casings for my purpose .... hog, sheep and collagen.

 

Hog ........is the most common for home made sausage. It's durable and edible, but Carlo doesn't like this so let's move on.

 

Sheep .......is a very tender casing. Breakfast sausage is mostly made with this. Carlo thinks this is  a very interesting alternative.

 

Collagen ....... I keep getting different opinions regarding this casing. There's no consensus that can be derived by researching on the internet. One school says they are very durable and can hold meats that are meant to be hung (dry sausage, etc). And another school says they're fine and used for breakfast sausage. Also it seems that collagen casings are used primarily by the commercial sausage market. So bottom line is that when you buy sausage from a commercial store you are most likely eating collagen casings.

 

BDL, I saw those flat collagens and I thought they said they were good for bolognas and stuff, not sure though. I would rather not have to remove casing. I would much rather have the casing slowly deteriorate thru the cooking process, but have sausage keep its familiar link form for serving.

 

Dave, maybe you can weigh in on the collagen casings ? Is this what I am looking for ? That company you mentioned, Nippi makes collagen casings but I saw no mention of rice based collagen casings. Collagens are made of cattle hide which certainly seems like it would be much tougher than the others.

 

I guess I'll just have to experiment with them all like BDL said. When I do so I'll report back and tell all you helpful folks what I found.

 

Remember, my ideal sausage is not skinless. My ideal sausage would be a sausage that is shaped well by the casing and that in no way shape or form can tug or snap when eating it.

 

 

 

 

 

post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 

Mary B ...... the website you showed is what confuses me. If collagens are good for smoked sausage how can they be the same for breakfast sausage ? Smoking sausage I would think would require a very durable casing. The differing sausage types mentioned on the website just don't seem uniform for a supposedly fine type casing imo. This is what confuses me with the collagen casing debate.

post #18 of 39

Sheep casings are too small.  You'll end up with sausage the diameter of your little finger.  Not the right choice for you, I'd think. 

 

There's all kinds of collagen coming in all kinds of sizes.  I recommended flat collagen, and you're right -- wrong stuff. 

 

You might want to look at something like this

 

It seems clear no one has the perfect answer for you on CT.  At least not yet.  Thus, the best plan is probably for you to start googling (or binging or whatever) "sausage casings," pick out a few types and sizes which look interesting, and try them out. 

 

Bear in mind there may not be a casing which completely satisfies all of your criteria -- some of which are darn picky.  Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

 

BDL

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post #19 of 39
Thread Starter 

That is EXACTLY the casing I think that would be good for me. But when using the same casing but larger size is good for smoking it makes me wonder. I will try the collagens first. I'd rather not try the sheep ..... yucky imo.

 

Yes, I am picky. I'm basically a meat and potatoes type guy, but I want my meat and potatoes a certain way. A way that people like me will notice in a very subtle way. I live in a pretty much upscale area in northern new jersey and I can't find sausage that suits my taste anymore. The 1 or 2 places we used to get our sausage from have changed hands and quality went down. Commercial sausage I just can't trust, you know what I mean ? Sorry Dave.

 

Too many times biting into sausage I've found myself chewing a glob of fat or a bone chip. It doesn't happen often, but enough to make me think twice of ordering it out. This is why I make my own now, and is also why I wanna fine tune this thing to make sausage a popular menu item. I love the margin on sausage compared to all other meats besides chicken. I know I'm picky but my wife isn't and she has some of the same reservations I have about sausage these days. The casing is my last hurdle with the sausage. If all ideas fail I will probably go with hog casings and go from there. But until I exhaust all opportunities I will continue to be picky. I'll have something to tell my customers when they tell me my sausage is the best ....lol

post #20 of 39

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned chevapchichi (sp?).  You may want to look up recipes for/ ask questions about these.  They are easy to cook without breaking up, no skin, and delicious.   I think they are Greek, but could be tweaked to make them Italian.  I use them regularly - they may be called something else in your part of the world.

 

But still, worth have a look see if you can't find a casing you prefer or messing about with wrap.

 

For example, this one looks good:

 

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post #21 of 39

Collagen casings come in several thicknesses, one for smoking that is much thicker and stronger and one for fresh sausages that are not going to be smoked. The casing for fresh sausage is pretty fragile but it has been 3-4 years since I used them and can't remember how they cooked up.

post #22 of 39
Thread Starter 

Just spoke to the president of a long established family owned casing company and he was nice enough to spend some time with me. He told me that natural hog casings will never be consistent because of all the different hog intestince  that casing companies get from their different suppliers. Different hog growth, different feeding habits of the hogs all come into play when dealing with natural casings. He said 9 out of 10 will be consistent but that is all you should expect in reality. His real good commercial customers whom he might sell casings for 100,000 lbs of sausage per week he does special quality control so the consistency is better than 9 out of 10. But he said a customer my size will just have to deal with the inconsistency with natural hog casings.

 

He highly recommended collagen casings for 100% consistency. They are more tender to the bite and are able to be grilled, baked or fried.  Breakfast sausage is made with collagen and NOT sheep casings like so many websites claim.

 

Collagen casings also cannot be twisted to close the link like natural casings can ..... you must tie it or just leave it open. It will unravel if you twist it and leave it alone. Collagen casings also don't have to be refrigerated. They s/b kept in a cool dry place preferably 40 - 60 degrees. Natural hog casings must be refrigerated and sometimes thru transport can be mishandled and thaw out which in turn changes the texture of the casing in consumption.

 

He also told me collagen casings will look different when stuffed than natural casings, He said they won't be as shiny and appealing in a show case, but I don't care about that. I think the meat binds with the collagen casing when stuffed so it'll look like uncased sausage (think breakfast sausage) ....... EXACTLY WHAT I WANT !!! (I think ?)

 

I'm having some samples of collagen casing shipped to me. Hopefully make some sausage later this week and try it out.

 

post #23 of 39

No one mentioned caul fat. I don't have any experience with it myself. I guess if you want a super tight consistent texture on the outside, caul fat wouldn't work. But just think of the possibilities of wrapping sausages in more fat!

post #24 of 39

What a dilemma.  You sound like a very picky eater and from my experience picky eaters can be very limited chefs.  My father in law who prides himself as a chef only eats 3 different foods so as long as I've known him we eat those exact same foods every time we go to his house once or twice a month, prepared the exact same way.  It's pretty boring even though I did like the dishes well enough the first few dozen times lol.  That said I vote for casing.  There's nothing like the pop of a sausage which is half the experience of eating it.  Just letting you know as a potential customer in the tri-state area : )

 

Caul fat is wonderful.  I have used it many times to wrap sausage, chops, or even a whole spit roasted lamb.  If it cooks for a long time it cooks away.  If you cook it less it can get a little rubbery but I love it none the less.  Unlike casing it has a delicious fatty flavor that gets imparted on the meat.

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post #25 of 39

I agree with KY. You may not like sausage in a casing, but try giving it to a paying patron ? They may not like it.. In a restaurant or food service setting you do not cook what you like, you make and serve what your customers like. Make yours home for yourself

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #26 of 39
Thread Starter 

I love sausage with snap or no snap. I love sausage with casing or no casing. What I don't like is eating a sausage with a tough casing. Sometimes this happens, not often, but enough to worry me about the consistency of my food.

 

There is an italian restaurant by me that I have been going to for 15 years. What I love and respect about this business is their consistency. I've probably been there by either "take out" or "eat in" over 300 times. Never once .... I repeat ... never once did I find an inconsistency with the food. Never once did they screw up a "take out" order (usually $125 per order). The owner lives in the kitchen and his sons take care of the front. They are meticulous in their food quality and service. Never been in a place with the consistency of this place and I eat out a lot. I respect this model and would like to copy it in general. If that means I'm picky, so be it. I believe doing something different than the many many many competitors I will have in this business will afford me an edge.

 

The only problem is I'm not a chef. I'm just a guy who has put together with my wife some of the best family cooked recipes my family and friends have been eating for the last 40 years. The menu will be limited and making sure everything on that menu passes my picky test will be of the utmost importance to me. I'm not passing my tastes onto the customer. The dishes will be traditional italian peasant dishes that everyone has eaten. It's the quality and consistency that I'm striving for that is driving me to details.

post #27 of 39

I believe doing something different than the many many many competitors I will have in this business will afford me an edge.

 

Many be the reason the Many, Many, Many competitors are doing it that way is because their customers like it that way. It could afford you an edge, or send you over the edge. I would take the advice of the seasoned Chefs, they know how to succeed,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ChefBillyB

post #28 of 39
Thread Starter 

Ok ...... just cased some delicious italian cheese and parsley sausage with collagen casings. Stuffing them was simple compared to natural hog casings. They looked beautiful in the casing.

 

Threw them on the barbeque (temp @ 350) ...... sausage started bursting and deforming after about 5 minutes on the grill (holes were already poked in the sausage before hitting the grill). By the time the sausage was done the links were severely deformed and much of the casing curled off the sausage. Collagen is a definite no go ..... lol

 

What I did learn today when I spoke to the butcher was that  commercial butchers use natural hog casings, BUT THEY USE THE BETTER QUALITY ONES !!!. He told me the ones you buy from the supermarket in a bag or small plastic container for $4.00 is garbage. Those hog casings that cost $4.00 make about 30 lbs of sausage. The hog casings my butcher uses cost $30.00 but makes 120 lbs of sausage.

 

Bottom line ...... looks like I've been buying the crappy hog casings that most retail folks buy from the supermarket. It sucks being retail. I think I finally have my answers. Thanks everyone for your input.

post #29 of 39

I can't speak from personal experience, but I've heard of people using transglutaminase to make a caseless sausage that holds its shape.

post #30 of 39
Thread Starter 

Just thought I'd bump up this old thread to tell you folks my findings regarding sausage casings. After making about 80 lbs of italian sausage I have discovered that the natural hog casings are the best casing. BUT ...... don't buy the casings from your neighborhood supermarket.

 

I bought my casings from a wholesaler. I had to buy a "hank" which cost $24 but a hank makes 120 lbs plus and there is no doubt about the plus. The hank will probably make 170 lbs of sausage (32 mm - 34mm).

 

While speaking to the wholesaler I was telling him of the terrible quality natural hog casings I've been using from the supermarkets and he told me I was probably getting the cheap ones that are made in China. lol ..... didn't know China was manufacturing hog casings too !!

 

You must buy the commercial grade casings and the difference will be night and day. They will store for a year easily if properly brined and refrigerated. I will have no problem going into business using these casings as they definetely pass my quality test and I'm one picky sob.

 

Also regarding sausage ...... I've had a problem with my italian sausage meat (pork butt) being red inside after cooking. There is no doubt the sausage is fully cooked, and there is no food coloring that I put into the sausage. What happens is that 50% of the time when I make a batch of sausage the meat remains pink inside after cooking. I've done a lot of research as well as posting in this forum as to why this is happening. After making a lot of sausage I believe I finally have my answer.

 

The cooked pink meat is caused by the various preservatives that the butcher is injecting into his meat to keep the color appealing and preserving shelf life. I've always bought my pork butts from reputable upscale supermarkets but I guess even the upscale places do it to prevent taking financial losses on bad meat. I guess this is the reason I got pink meat in 50% of the batches I made. I guess sometimes the meat comes in and sells quickly so there is no need to preserve and sometimes it sits around and they have to preserve. Now I buy all my pork butts from "Restaurant Depot" who tell me they DO NOT preserve their meats. What they do is "mark down" the meats as expiration date nears and they usually fly off the shelf after mark down. I must have bought 70 lbs of pork butt from RD over the last couple of months and have not encountered any pinkness whatsoever. In fact I'm amazed at how greyish/whitish the inside of the pork gets with minimal cooking. Of course the pork is always cooked before I serve..

 

When butchers and others told me that's it's OK to eat sausage if the inside is pink as long as it's fully cooked I was like WTF ??? I understand they are correct, but it's just something you can't serve to the general public IMO. I believe we still have a mental block to eating pink pork even though trichinosis is basically a thing of the past.

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