If you are a regular reader of An American Housewife, you know I don't really follow recipes, and I often just make things up. This is a good example of yet another wild hair idea I had.
I wanted to make my own chicken and spinach sausages. And I love feta cheese with spinach and chicken so, there was my plan. I would make my own chicken, spinach and feta cheese sausages!
First off - I do have a meat grinder. I do NOT have any expensive, awesome, great brand name, top of the line appliances though. We are a single income family and I can pinch a penny until it turns to liquid! My husband got me a great basic, simple Weston brand meat grinder when he was shopping at Lowes (yep, the hardware store) and they had them on sale last summer. (I just checked - they still carry them - http://www.lowes.com/pd_622102-18900-82-0301-W_0__?productId=50243577 )
I made this up as I went along and 'taste tested' it at 2 different points which I recommend you do too. To taste test - take some of the mixture when you think are pretty happy with it - and form a small patty. Cook it in a pan on your stove top and then taste. Do you think it needs a little more salt? Garlic? Add. Taste test again.
These are now a favorite of my family. Not only that, but I served them the week of Christmas to guests staying with us and they not only loved them, but planned to take our last package from the freezer home with them! (Alas, they left at 5:30 am to travel home and we all forgot to grab them - so they didn't get them but I am going to bring some in a cooler the next time we visit them).
My Homemade Chicken Spinch and Feta Sausages
4 - 4 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cubed
1 - 1 1/2 lb. fatback, cubed (I found this at Walmart - it adds the moisture you need in this recipe)
1 T ground coriander
2-4 t salt (start with 2 and adjust after you taste test. I like to use 3)
1 T garlic, minced
3/4 c feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 c spinach (I used frozen, chopped style)
1/4 c olive oil
Optional: dash or two of a lemon, garlic mixture of your choice brand or lemon pepper)
Casings of your choice
Follow the directions on your meat grinder. Grind the chicken, fatback and spinach into a large bowl. Add the rest of your ingredients to the ground mixture in the bowl. Mix well. Taste test by cooking a small patty of your mixture on the stove in a bit of oil. Adjust the flavorings to your liking and test again. When you are happy with the cooked taste of your sausage, continue.
Attach the stuffing tool per your grinder's instructions. Attach the casing onto the stuffing tube per your grinder's instructions and your casing instructions regarding whether your casings need to be rinsed first, etc. Re-feed the chicken now ground and seasoned, into the machine and form long tubes per your casing instructions being sure to secure the end first so your sausage doesn't come out! Be sure not to overstuff, you want to leave room to twist and form sausages.
I don't have the little wires to form sausages, so I used the 'twist it' style. Holding the rope in small sections in my hands like a tiny jump rope, I spin the sausages a couple times away from me to twist the ends. This forms a sausage. Now I moved my hands down a little more and holding the first twist in my left hand, and squishing the sausage up about an inch on the right, I placed my fingers there and I spun another chunk of the sausage, but this time spinning towards me (the opposite way).
Continue moving your hands down small sections of the sausage rope, alternating spinning the 'jump rope' away from you and towards you, which forms the twists between the sausages. Make sure you are squishing enough room between the sausage links (about an inch) to form the twists.
I let the ropes set while I finished stuffing another casing. You could store them as is, but I wanted to cut mine apart and seal them in groups of 3 or 4 in individual food saver style bags in the deep freeze. I snipped them apart, and only had 2 open up on me that I had stuffed a little tight and had to redo. You could probably par-boil them at this point, let them cool complete and freeze them, or use them right away. I sealed mine, and put them in the deep freeze. When I make them, I put them in the refrigerator to thaw and then put them into 2 inches of water in a pan on the stove to pre-cook them - then finish them on the grill or under the broiler. We don't have to serve anything 'with' these as a condiment - they are so good all by themselves. We have them plain with a side dish or serve in a bun like a brat or a hotdog.
My very simple, one speed Weston meat grinder. Nothing fancy!
Grinding the chicken breasts
I packaged some ground chicken as is - unseasoned - to use in taco's later
The fatback adds moisture to the sausage. Don't skip this or they will be dry and crumbly!
I found mine at Walmart in the packaged meat department.
Adding the spinach
The casings I bought online come like this - and you have to rinse them before use
Yeah, they kind of look gross. Ha ha.
Put the stuffing attachment on your machine and have a couple casings ready.
I only used 2 long strips (but I didn't know so I had more ready just in case)
Threading the casing on the attachment.
Ready to tie off the end and begin stuffing
Don't push or pull. Just let the machine fill gently and guide it. Don't overstuff.
If there are any air bubbles you can poke through the casing with a clean pin to make them disappear.
Resting while I finish a second casing.
I snipped them apart and packaged them into 3 and 4 sausages per bag to freeze
We ate 4 right away and sealed the rest to store in the freezer
Marked and ready to store
As I mentioned above, I got my Weston grinder (and the food saver) at Lowe's. But you can get them or a hundred other options at Amazon if you don't have a Lowe's near you. I ordered my sausage casings online from Amazon - I'll link to the exact ones I purchased here, below.
Weston 575 Watt Electric Heavy Duty Grinder, Silver
Weston 36-2201-W Manual Meat Grinder, No: 22
Natural Hog Casings for Sausage