I didn't really plan it that way, but for my birthday last weekend I invited Charlie over to make some sausage. I've had a recipe from my German Grandmother for "Fry Sausage" that us kids always loved, but had never actually attempted. The un-scaled recipe is below, to give an idea of the enormity of what they used to do. I did about 1/10th that size batch, probably close to eight or nine pounds with a few tweaks here and there. It wasn't exactly like theirs (memory being a fickle thing) but I think it turned out pretty good.
I diced the pork & beef, mixed in the spices (all but garlic juice), and let it sit overnight. Charlie has an old grinder and decided to prep and grind his sausage fixings the day before. He made a pork sausage and a chicken sausage. As you can see from the picture above there was plenty of meat needing to be stuffed into casings!
I tried something new this time, first grinding through the large attachment (very large holes) and then another grind through the medium sized. As you can see in the picture below it came out really nicely through the medium head using this technique. When trying to grind diced meat through the medium head it moves MUCH slower and gets kind of jammed up coming out.
Having two people doing the sausage stuffing makes it a lot easier. Surprisingly, it's still a lot of work. I made some long links for the fry sausage (foot or so) and the rest shorter ones. Charlie made short links for both of his sausages, but he did the link twisting after the casing was stuffed and tied off at both ends, which seems to make the task much less hectic.
The next day I worked from home while slowly smoking the fry sausage. I think our relatives did a cold smoke, but I don't have anything set up to do that. I tried to emulate that with an electric smoker I have, but too low a temp and the wood chips quit smoking, high enough for smoke and it turns into a hot smoking (200f+) of the sausage. Finally I finished off the second batch by hot smoking them, which worked fine. With cold smoking the temperature gets no hotter than 90F, which means the hot smoke needs to be routed through something (tunnels, pipes) to dissipate the heat. I can remember the cement cinder block smoke house at my Aunt & Uncle's in South Dakota, but the details of where the smoke came from (small box/tunnel on side?) is too vague.
After smoking and then rinsing with cold water I vacuum packed most of the sausage, including some of the chicken sausage Charlie was nice enough to give us (I didn't try smoking that).
As you'll see in the recipe it uses Tender Quick, which is a mix of salt along with sodium nitrite and nitrate. Basically if you are going to be doing cold smoking, or curing of meat, you need the nitrite to fend of botulism. The spores that produce botulism strive in warm, anaerobic (low oxygen) environments, exactly what the smokehouse is all about. Nitrate is like a time-released version of nitrites and what you use for long curing of meats, like summer sausage. I had pink salt (salt and nitrite) which was used in this recipe. Nitrite does a couple other things, it is responsible for keeping the meat nice and pink as well as enhancing the flavor. Think smoked ham: both the look and flavor are due in large part to the nitrites. (For some interesting discussions on nitrites/nitrates check out this Co-op Food Store article and Michael Ruhlman's website)
Here's my first post from a couple years ago about making sausage: Sausage Time Machine
Update: looking at comments on that article I see that mom had written: "You didn't use the Krein recipe for German Brodwurst. The one that starts with 40 lbs of ground beef, thirty lbs.of ground port." So, maybe it wasn't Grandma's recipe after all.
German Fry Sausage (80lbs) 60lbs pork 20lbs beef 1 C salt 1 C tender quick 1 C pepper 2 Tbsp all spice 1/3C brown sugar garlic juice To make garlic juice peel 4 big heads garlic head put in qt jar add water and soak 24-36 hours before straining and using juice. They use old dead plum tree & other woods to smoke sausage about 3 hours.