For the meat, I used a mix of 7 lb. pork butt, 2 lb. top round, and 1 lb. of extra pork fat. I had decided to go with a package mix for this first attempt. I'm sure I'll do my own mixes later, but I was trying to reduce variables here. I chose the LEM Backwoods Fresh Sausage Seasoning. The package makes 15 lbs, but I'll only be using 2/3 of it.
After about an hour, I emptied the freezer and reassembled the grinder, using Pam as a lubricant. I also took out the semi-frozen meat, which ought to make the grinder run a bit easier.
I took two stainless steel bowls, and put ice cubes and a little water in one to create an ice bath for the bowl of ground meat. Now it was time to get down to grinding! I ran this through the 8mm plate.
The finished mound o' meat, being seasoned with the LEM mix proportioned for 10 lbs. of meat. Notice the grinder head is gone, it's parts back in the freezer again. The worst part by far was the mixing by hand of all that near-freezing meat! My hands were freezing after this, but I got the spice mix well incorporated. Before it got put up, a small test patty was created to check the taste. It was excellent.
I'll spare you with the pictures of me trying to get the collagen casing on the stuffing horn. Even though I sprayed it with Pam as well, it was still a chore. I'm sure that no small part of my difficulties lie in the fact I'd never done it before. Next time it'll be better.
Here's the start of the stuffing routine after removing the grinder guts and installing the stuffing horn. Yes, I remembered to tie off the end of the casing!
Finally finished! Below lie 9 lbs. of fresh sausage. For now. More under lessons learned.
The finished product - 8 lbs. (yes 8 lbs., not 9 any more) of links in FoodSaver bags and headed for the deep freeze. All except a few random-length end-links and some loose sausage meat for patties.
1. Next time, I think I'll try mixing the meat cubes well and seasoning them before grinding, and then grinding and stuffing in one operation. Either that or use my Jerky Blaster with a funnel adapter for stuffing. Even with the plate and knife removed, the finished mix seemed way too fine. Not like hot dogs, but not like the sausage I wanted, either.
2. All went very smoothly until the stuffing started. Having never done this before, I had nothing to guide me. As it turns out, I was putting too much meat into the casings. Several times during the link-twisting stage I had a blow out. This explains why the 9 lbs. of links turned into 8 lbs. - from rescuing and retying links. I need to get a lot better at this before I try natural hog casings, I think.
3. I think I also need a lot of practice twisting links off of the stuffer. all the ones I tried seemed to want to untwist when they moved around as the stuffing continued. Have to think on this a bit.
All in all, a qualified success. I think that some will be hitting the smoker tomorrow for the acid test. I can't wait to eat them, or to make the next batch. I have 5 more pork butts in the freezer, waiting their turn...
* * * UPDATE * * *
I pulled some sausage out of the freezer and after thawing, tossed it on the smoker with sn experimental rack of ribs. It was absolutely delicious! As I mentioned above, the texture was a little too fine, but it sure was tasty.