Personal and style tastes: How much Extraction for Fresh Sausages?

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    A post on mixer use and a lot of replies, gave me the impression that most folks barely mix meat for fresh sausages, maybe just enough to blend spices? Whereas I like a good bit of extraction on Italian and even brats, to give a firmer more “sausage” texture. But I got the feeling I am in the minority?

    I know everything is all personal taste, but thought it would be fun and interesting to see how other folks prefer to make various fresh sausages, specifically regarding how much mixing, protein extraction, and thus loose vs. firm texture. Of course, there are a ton of types, and not all will be done the same. I’ll start off with my own preferences, and just hit the common fresh sausages I like. I will note, I almost never like a 10mm or 3/8" grind, I hate getting a big chunk of tough meat in a sausage, so tend smaller, which seems to ease extraction speed too.

    1. Italian. I like a pretty full extraction, and finer grind. I do 6.5mm grind. Growing up in Italian area outside Philly, we got Italian sausages on buns with peppers and onions more than hotdogs. Also more common in spaghetti than meatballs. And I always remember them being kind of firmly sliceable, and held together nice on a bun. Most fresh ones I see in Safeway now don’t seem to match my memories for firmness.
    2. US Wisconsin or Johnsonville style brats. Light extraction, rough 8 to 10mm grind. The meat particles aren’t well bound. Here I’m just matching store bought.
    3. German style brats. When stationed in Germany, I loved the more finely textured and firm brats. In southern FRG, near Ulm and Munich, as well as Koln, a lighter colored weisswurst style seemed more common. These all had a tight grind and high extraction, used egg as a binder, and were much more hotdog textured. In fact, this is what I thought of as a “bratwurst” until I recently realized most folks are thinking of Johnsonville beer brat style here in US. So, 3 or 4.5mm grind, high extraction with long mix, eggs or just whites used, powdered milk at high levels for bind. I’m too cheap to find and use veal, but would like to!
    4. Breakfast sausage. 7mm grind, pretty loose. Patties usually.
    5. Chorizo. 8 to 10mm grind, loose, patties, looks like a burger almost. Easy to break up with spatula for breakfast burritos.
    6. Philly steak sandwich brats. Tons of folks here talking these up, so I tried. Definitely liked them loose, barely mixed. 8mm or 10mm grind, dried onion and jalapeños or green peppers barely mixed in.

    So, how do other folks like protein extraction and texture on these common fresh sausages?

  • Regular Contributors Power User

    Dave in AZ

    I would say my tastes and experiences run roughly parallel to yours for fresh sausages styles.
    I kind of shutter when someone asks about “brats” because the term has morphed over the last few years to cover a wide spectrum of flavors and styles. So, I’m glad you sited specific examples to add some context to what kind of “brats” you were describing.

    I usually mix more for appearance and texture rather than any set time interval.

    The two fresh sausages types with the shortest mix time are breakfast sausage and chorizo. The seasonings in those sausage styles are strong enough that they seem to migrate throughout the mix with just minimal mixing and only the dry seasonings.

    Everything else fresh gets some water with the seasoning and moderate mixing time.

  • Power User Veteran Michigan

    Dave in AZ I agree with you that it all depends on what you are making. For me, I’ve always been making product for the public and you have to give people what they are expecting. As you allude to in your second point “Johnsonville” style brats are what my past customers were expecting to get. Most of the fresh sausages I made we mixed to be of that consistency/ texture.

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