Sausage Ingredients: Fat and Casings

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The fat for sausage making is generally pork fat from under the skin of the animal’s back. Pork fat has the advantage of being relatively neutral in flavor, and back fat in particular has just the right consistency: hard enough not to melt and separate as the meat is ground or stored at warm room temperatures, but soft enough that it’s not granular and pasty when eaten cool. Belly fat is softer than ideal, kidney fat and beef and lamb fat harder; poultry fats are too soft. In standard nonemulsified sausages, the 30%+ fat content helps separate the meat fragments and provides tenderness and moistness. The coarser the meat fragments, the lower the surface area that fat must lubricate, and so the less fat required for an appealing texture (as little as 15%).