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Posted By: Joe Ames
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2000 at 12:07 p.m.

ETHNIC SAUSAGES continue to increase in popularity. One of the most popular is Italian sausage. Interest in Italian sausage used to be confined to a few regions of the country; now its acceptance and popularity have spread just about nationwide.
Traditionally, Italian sausage is fresh. However, it is possible to manufacture very tasty smoked Italian sausage. (In this instance, the term “smoked” actually means smoked and cooked.) Smoked Italian sausage will have a much longer shelf life than fresh Italian sausage; consequently, you will have longer to move it through marketing channels.

Following are some formulas that can be used to manufacture smoked Italian sausage from poultry.

Smoked Italian Sausage
Made From Poultry

100 lbs. turkey thighs
12 lbs. water
2.25 lbs. salt
2 lbs. dextrose
6 oz. sodium phosphates
4 oz. curing salt (6.25% sodium nitrite)
7/8 oz. sodium erythorbate
appropriate seasonings

Alternate Meat Block A
50 lbs. turkey thighs
50 lbs. turkey drumstick meat
100 lbs.

Alternate Meat Block B
50 lbs. turkey thighs
40 lbs. turkey drumstick meat
10 lbs. turkey hearts
100 lbs.

Alternate Meat Block C
35 lbs. turkey thighs
30 lbs. turkey drumstick meat
25 lbs. mechanically deboned chicken meat
10 lbs. turkey hearts
100 lbs.

Many different combinations of poultry meat can be used to manufacture smoked Italian sausage. Your selection of a meat block will depend on the characteristics you want the finished product to have, as well as the money you want to spend. Excellent smoked sausage can be manufactured from 100% turkey thighs.
If you want a less expensive formulation, you can incorporate drumstick meat or mechanically deboned poultry. The more mechanically deboned poultry you use, however, the less particle definition your finished product will have.

Normally, about 25% mechanically deboned poultry can be used without resulting in an adverse effect on finished product texture and particle definition. Incorporation of 5% to 10% hearts in the formulation will enhance your particle definition, appearing in the finished product as dark pieces of lean meat.
The amount of water you add during manufacture will depend somewhat on personal preference. A good starting point is to add enough water to compensate for smokehouse and cooler shrink. Too much water can result in a finished product with a texture that is soft and mushy.
Use of sodium phosphates will help to minimize your smokehouse shrink. During manufacture the phosphates should be added at the same time, or prior to, the salt. Salt adversely affects the solubility of some phosphates
Seasonings frequently used in smoked Italian sausage include: fennel, anise, black pepper, red pepper and garlic. Either natural spices or a combination of natural spices and spice extractives can be used. The characteristic flavor that is associated with Italian sausage comes from the fennel and anise.

Manufacturing Procedure
1. Coarse-grind meat through a 1/8 inch plate. (If you are using drumstick meat, it may already be coarse-ground when you purchase it. If you are using frozen mechanically cleboned chicken, either flake it or grind it through a frozen meat grinder.)
2. Transfer to mixer. Add non-meat ingredients. (If the sodium phosphate is not part of your spice pack, you should add it first, blend 1 min. and then add the other non-meat ingredients.)
3. Mix until the meat block is tacky. Total mixing time is usually around 10 min. (It is important that the meat block is mixed until it is very tacky. The tackiness you feel is extracted protein. The extracted protein binds fat and moisture. During heat-processing the extracted protein is coagulated, giving the finished product texture. If inadequate protein is extjacted during mixing, the finished product will have a poor yield and lack the desired texture.)
4. Re-grind through a 3/16 inch plate. (If you want smaller particles in the finished product, you can use a %2-in. or %-in. plate.)
5. Stuff into 36 - 38mm casings.
6. Process through the smokehouse to 160°F (USDA regulations require that processed-poultry products containing nitrite be processed to a minimum internal temperature of 155 °F. However, by processing to 160°F internal, the finished product will be microbiologically cleaner and consequently have a longer shelf life.)
7. Chill to 40°F and package.

Thanks to Dr. Joseph C. Cordray Iowa University.


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