Yes, that’s right — you can make your own healthier hot dog franks (and other sausages too) right at home — even if you don’t have a machine to stuff the casings!
You can also make your own hot dog buns:
It is easiest if you have sausage stuffing machine (well, some are easier than others), but if you have the time and the determination, you can also stuff casings with nothing more than a spoon.
However, the best way if stuffing casings by hand without having a machine, is to use a very large pastry piping tip on a large “disposable” (since dealing with raw meat) plastic pastry bag — the tip used for piping fillings like thick puddings into the center of pastries, donuts, and popovers. I’ll tell you more about how to do this later.
Usually, this is much more affordable than buying a machine. However, if you plan to make your own sausages and franks at home quite often you might find a good sausage stuffing machine is easier and quicker. Then again, if you have some really mean pastry bag skills that could be even easier than a machine for you. If you have a Kitchen Aid or similar stand mixer they usually have an attachment that can be ordered or purchased separately but it can take a little more getting used to since the feeder for the meat is smaller than most sausage machines and trying to stuff very squishy sausage or frank stuffing down into it can get a bit messy until you develop the knack for it — use the device provided to poke it in with and never your fingers.
Let’s make some sausage franks!
You will need about 3 to 4 casings. They come packed in salt and will need to prepared first.
Snip off about 3-1/2 to 4 feet of casing. Give it a quick rinse under the cool tap to remove much of the packing salt, then place it in a bowl of cool water and vinegar to soak. You want about a tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of water. Leave it to soak while you make your sausage/frank stuffing.
NOTE: You can purchase your meat already ground or ask the butcher at the meat and seafood counter to do so for you. You can also grind it yourself at home if you have a meat grinder or food processor. If grinding at home, cube and grind beef, pork, and fat individually — each by itself. Then mix them together and grind again a little at a time. If using a food processor be sure to use the fine blade.
In a food processor, puree the onion, garlic, coriander, marjoram, mace, mustard, white pepper, and paprika. Add the black pepper, egg white, sugar, salt and milk. Mix thoroughly. Remove and set aside.
Process your meats together until well and evenly incorporated.
Massage and mix in the seasonings mixture by hand until well and evenly distributed throughout. If using a food processor, you can incorporate the seasonings that way — just be sure if doing in batches that each batch is given an equal amount of the seasonings mixture.
Refrigerate the stuffing for about an hour to allow the seasoning flavors to meld. Remove from the refrigerator and grind again one final time. Set aside to allow the stuffing to finish warming up to room temperature so that it will be easier to stuff into the casings.
Meanwhile, remove the casings from the bowl of vinegar water and slip the end of the casing up over the tip of the faucet and gently run cool water through it to cleanse away the salt inside and you can check for leaks to know where any holes might be so those sections can be cut away. Lay on some paper towels to drain and pat dry if necessary so they won’t be too slippery to handle.
When ready, if using a machine, you can slide your casing up onto your sausage stuffing machine tip and hold it firmly in place while stuffing your casings.
If doing by hand, fill your pastry bag with stuffing, and after sliding the casing up onto the piping tip as far as you can, simply tie the casing securely onto the pastry tip with some butcher’s twine (the thin twine used to truss up a roast or poultry), then squeeze some stuffing into your casing (which requires both hands and is the reason you must tie the casing securely in place), lay the pastry bag down while you manually move the stuffing down to the other end of the casing with a gentle squeezing motion, and repeat. Refill your pastry bag as needed.
If you don’t have twine, yarn or embroidery thread will do. When finished stuffing leave room at the end to be able to cut the casing and still have enough left on your sausage or frank to twist — leaving behind the casing end tied to the pastry tip which will be removed and disposed of.
Once your casing is fully stuffed use your hands to gently form the frank or sausage into a more uniform shape if needed, then gently press to form indentations every six inches. These indentations are where you will twist. Do not separate the links from one another just yet, however.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a maintain continuous low simmering boil. Coil your still attached links into the water. Simmer for 24 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. Snip apart by cutting in the center most part of each twist. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze until ready to use.
When ready you can grill, oven broil, or boil to heat just as you would any hot dog franks purchased from the grocer.
Hot Dog Franks
Healthier than franks bought at the store. Can be made ahead and frozen for future use. Recipe is for about dozen franks but it is worth it to make more and freeze for later.
For Pork Franks:
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 3⁄4 lb lean ground beef
For Beef Franks:
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 3/4 lb lean ground pork
Remaining Ingredients for both types:
- 3 to 4 (1-1/2 inch diameter) prepared casings (feet sheep or small hog recommended)
- 1⁄4 lb ground pork fat (unsalted if possible)
- 6 tablespoons onion powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander, finely ground
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground mace (or may substitute allspice or nutmeg)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground/powdered mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, fine
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large egg, separated, use the whites only
- 1 Tbsp sugar, corn syrup, honey, or sucralose
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 cup buttermilk
Prepare casings (rinse and soak in 1 tbsp vinegar to 1 cup cool water then attach to faucet to rinse inside and check for holes; drain and pat dry). In food processor, blend seasonings, egg whites, sugar, and milk. Set aside.
Process ground meats until well and evenly incorporated into one another. If grinding own grind individually then incorporate and grind again.
Mix seasoning mixture into ground meats until well and evenly incorporated.
Refrigerate for an hour then process once more before stuffing into prepared casings. Twist every six inches.
Bring water to boil in large pot then reduce heat to maintain low steady boil. Coil links into pot and boil for 25 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Separate links. Refrigerate up to one week or freeze.