You might also like my posts “Raising Ducks for Meat” and “Roast Duck.”
Homemade Duck & Chicken Sausage
The easiest way to make your own duck and chicken sausage would be to start with ground meat and just add seasonings. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll do it the hard way and start by raising your own birds. I had some older laying hens and ducks that weren’t productive enough to keep, but I knew that their meat would be pretty tough. So I decided to turn them into sausage. Let me just say…They were delicious!
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Starting from Scratch
I processed the old ducks (you can read how to do that here) and hens and let them set overnight at refrigerator temps. The next day I washed the birds completely and cut most of the meat from the bones. The bones all went into a pot with water to make stock. I used our electric meat grinder to process the meat.
Grinding the Meat
I started by using a coarse plate on the grinder for the first pass. After that, I put the meat through a second time using the fine plate. This allowed me to work some chicken fat and seasonings into the meat, plus the grinder didn’t have to work as hard. I found that the sinewy meat from the legs had a tendency to wind around the auger in the meat grinder, so next time I’ll try to remove more of the sinew or clean the auger more often. I’m sure that younger, more tender birds would be easier on the grinder…but I get tired of soup sometimes and sausage is a great way to use these tough old birds.
If you don’t have an electric grinder, you can use the old fashioned hand crank type that clamps to your countertop. Be prepared to spend a little more time and energy on the job, which isn’t a bad thing. I just had a lot to do and I also wanted to try this grinder again. I’ve only used it once before and I wasn’t too sure how well I liked it. I will say that it really speeds up the job and I also don’t like how the clamp on the old fashioned kind can come loose and sometimes scrape up the countertops. You might want to put some cardboard between the counter and the metal clamp if you use one.
There are as many ways of seasoning your sausage as there are sausage makers. You can choose maple, savory, hot and spicy, Italian, or a gazillion other flavors for your duck sausage. I went with a savory and slightly spicy blend of seasonings that included:
- sea salt and black pepper
- summer savory
- ground bay leaf
- crushed red pepper
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- dried green and red sweet pepper
I suggest that you use the seaonings that you like and adjust according to your tastes. You might also want to add some fat to your meat as you grind it for juicier sausages. Mine turned out very lean, so I used bacon grease for frying them. Mmmm, bacon grease.
Patties or Links?
I didn’t have any sausage casings, so I formed the sausage into patties by hand for our dinner and froze the rest to use later. If you wish to make links, you’ll need casings and an attachment for your grinder that funnels the ground meat into the casings. It doesn’t look difficult to do, but I tend to prefer patties. You can also fry the sausage without forming it into patties or links. Leftover sausage crumbles are great in spaghetti sauce, lasagna, stir fries, or scrambled eggs.
Cooking On a Wood Stove
Of course you may fry up your sausage on you kitchen range. Just add some oil (or lard or bacon grease) to your frying pan, let it heat up and then place the sausage patties in the pan. Be prepared to cook poultry sausage at a lower heat for a little bit longer, since they will be leaner than pork sausage.
Since we heat our house with wood in the winter, and the fire was already nice and hot, I put my cast iron pan on the wood stove to save electricity. This helps make up for the fact that I used the electric grinder! There was enough room for the stock pot and the cast iron pan both, so the duck/chicken stock simmered away while the sausage cooked. You may need to add more wood or open the damper if the fire isn’t hot enough, or close the damper down a bit if the pan is too hot.
You can use some dry bread crumbs in your sausage if you like…I don’t. But if you find that they aren’t holding together very well, or if you like to make the meat stretch a little farther, the bread crumbs and an egg will help. Mix thoroughly, shape into patties and cook.
You can freeze any extra sausage and use within 6 months. Vacuum seal the bags for best results (I used the regular zip freezer bags and used the meat up quickly) if the meat will be frozen for more than a few weeks. You can also form patties, freeze on a cookie sheet, and then place in a freezer bag.
Have you ever made homemade sausage? What are you favorite seasonings to use in sausage?