The fineness or coarseness of the grind is an important characteristic of any sausage. For example, one identifying feature of Toulouse Sausages is their coarse texture. The meat is chopped by hand rather than ground. On the other hand, typical breakfast sausages have a fairly fine grind.
To grind meat, cut it into pieces small enough to fit easily into the feed tube of the grinder, then chill it well. For the best texture, start with the largest die, no matter what final grind is needed. Then grind with the next smaller die, until the desired texture is achieved. This process is called progressive grinding. Control the coarseness of the grind by selecting the proper die for the final grind, as indicated in the recipe. As indicated in the following procedure, the meat, fat, and seasonings are mixed until uniformly blended after the meat is ground.
The meat mixture must be kept cold during grinding. When the mixture gets too warm, the fat becomes soft and begins to lose its structure. As a result, it may melt out too readily when the sausage is cooked, resulting in excessive shrinkage, poor texture, and dryness. If the kitchen is warm, return the meat to the refrigerator to chill it thoroughly after cutting it up and before grinding it. If it must be ground more than once, return it to the refrigerator between grindings.
After the forcemeat is ground, it should be mixed to develop the texture. Unmixed sausage forcemeats are likely to be dry and crumbly after cooking. Mixing binds the forcemeats proteins, fats, and liquid together, resulting in a smoother, moister texture. Be sure to keep the mixture cold during mixing. The best way to do this is to use a mixer fitted with an ice bain-marie (a jacket surrounding the mixing bowl that can be filled with ice water).
Additional textural variation in basic grind sausages can be created by mixing chunks or dice of meat or other ingredients into a more finely ground forcemeat, as is often done in pâtés.
When following any sausage recipe, adhere closely to the grinding and processing directions in order to achieve the proper texture and character.