Salami can be made at home without nitrates/nitrites (curing salts) and without weeks or months of aging — and even with or without stuffing into casings. It just takes a few days — so it can spend a day or two in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld before being baked. I like to make ahead, bake, and freeze.
If you do wish to try your hand at casing stuffed sausages, then for more about stuffing into casings see my blog post on hot dog franks:
Pre-soak cracked peppercorns, if using, for one hour in the brine solution. This softens them just enough to decrease the chance of breaking a tooth when used in non-cured sausages. Drain in mesh strainer, rinse, and allow peppercorns to dry on paper towels, — then pat dry further before using, if required, to remove any remaining excess liquid.
Simply purchase the extra lean meats (i.e. 95 percent or greater beef and either fully trimmed pork tenderloin or trimmed pork sirloin) already ground from the grocery or butcher. You may, however, need to specifically ask to have the pork fat ground for you at the meat counter or do this at home — since it is normally sold in small blocks or thick sliced. The grocery store meat/seafood counter will do this at no extra charge.
You have more control over the total fat actually going into the sausage this way than by buying fattier meats. While this sausage requires some fat for best texture and flavor, it doesn’t take a huge amount. Six ounces (about a cup) is all that is really required for nearly four pounds of extra lean meat.
If using game, particularly venison, instead of beef, then you may need to add another two ounces of additional pork fat, since game — especially venison — tends to be far less fatty and much leaner than beef.
If grinding meat at home, rather than purchasing already ground, do each meat individually until otherwise directed. Various meats have different textures and may require more or less grinding.
Coarse grind once, then grind again using the fine grind setting on the meat grinder or the food processor plate/disc. If you are using a meat grinder without any settings, then simply repeat grinding two or three times — if needed. You want to aim for an almost — but not quite (at this point anyway since it’ll be further processed when meats are combined) — pate, sticky or paste like consistency.
You are now ready to combine the meats and fat together.
In a food processor or meat grinder, combine ground pork fat with lean ground pork, then divide into portions, and process pork mixture with divided portions of ground beef or venison.
If you do not have a food processor or meat grinder make sure you purchase already ground meats and fat and mix together by hand pinching between your fingers until evenly and thoroughly blended and the desired consistency.
In a large bowl, mix together the meat and seasonings until evenly and thoroughly blended.
Divide the meat into four (or more depending upon desired length) relatively equal portions and roll each portion into approximately 2 to 4 inches around in diameter logs, and wrap (roll up) smoothly and snugly fit in aluminum foil or stuff into properly prepared casings. Make the sheets of aluminum foil long enough to roll up and pinch the ends together without mashing the ends of your salami rolls.
Refrigerate covered for 24 to 48 hours to allow flavors to meld and for logs to firm up. Because it is raw meat, be sure to store it safely on the bottom shelf away from any other foods and have it sitting inside a drip proof pan or dish. Do not stack the salami rolls as this may result in squashing them.
Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees.
Make a few slits in the bottom of the foil to allow the fat to drain when cooking — not required if using casings. Create a tiny opening top center in foil sufficient for inserting an instant read thermometer or a meat thermometer later.
Place a roll onto a rack placed inside a baking sheet or pan with deep sides, and fill the bottom part of the pan with enough water to cover bottom of pan. This is to keep the salami moist and prevent any drippings from burning or smoking on the bottom of the pan — but the liquid should not be touching the salami roll.
You can cook more than one roll at a time but will need to watch level of liquid in bottom of pan very carefully to ensure it doesn’t rise too high as the rolls drip — and be prepared to drain any excess so that liquid does not come into contact with salami rolls.
Bake for 90 minutes in the preheated oven or until salami log reaches internal temperature of 165 to 170 F degrees with an instant read or a meat thermometer. This kills most bacteria as well as any parasites in the pork.
Remove from pan, leave foil on if used instead of casings, and rest for 30 minutes on a paper towel covered sheet pan or platter. Wipe or pat dry to remove any excess oil.
Place in refrigerator covered or in airtight container to chill for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or more.
You may slice and serve. Store covered in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days — or wrap well to prevent freezer burn and freeze.
The great thing about non-cured sausages of most types is that you can change up the meats and seasonings to suit your taste — as long as you cook (bake or smoke) the sausages long enough and with the right amount of heat to bring them up to the proper temperature to kill off parasites and bacteria — without buggering up the texture (over cooked, under cooked, too dry, or not dry enough; the biggest trick to making non-cured sausages is getting the moisture or dryness right).
If any pork is used, then the sausage needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 to 170 F degrees.
Otherwise, it needs to be frozen at minus 200 F degrees for almost a month before it can be used to make sausages safely — something you cannot do in your normal home freezer.
The only other option is to consider purchasing irradiated pork — which doesn’t kill the parasites but just makes them unable to reproduce — and hope for the best (I’ll pass on that option myself).
Because the baking temperature and length of time is so very different for pepperoni sausage, which is a lower temperature and much longer length of time — because it requires so much more drying out — I only use beef and stay away from pork completely. As it turns out, this also works well for making a vegan version of pepperoni sausage from dehydrated tomatoes.
Tam's Homemade Salami
- 1 pound extra lean (95% or higher) ground beef or venison
- 2-1/2 pounds lean ground pork (well trimmed pork tenderloin or pork sirloin)
- 1 cup pork fat, coarsely then finely ground (about six ounces; increase to 8 ounces if using venison instead of beef)
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp mustard seed
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons caraway seed (may substitute fennel)
- 1/3 cup red wine, optional
- optional: 1 Tablespoon prepared pre-soaked cracked peppercorns, or to taste
Brine solution for soaking cracked peppercorns:
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon distilled vinegar
- 2 teaspoon table salt
Pre-soak cracked peppercorns if using for one hour in brine solution.
If grinding meat at home, rather than purchasing already ground, do each meat individually. Coarse grind then repeat using fine grind setting or food processor plate/disc.
In food processor or meat grinder, combine pork fat with ground pork, then divide into portions, and process pork mixture with equal portions of ground beef or venison.
In a large bowl, mix together the meat and seasonings until evenly and thoroughly mixed.
Roll the mixture into four approximately 2 to 4 inch diameter logs, and roll up snugly in aluminum foil leaving enough on ends to fold and pinch shut without mashing ends of salami rolls. (Or stuff into properly prepared casings) Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours to allow flavors to meld.
Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees.
Make a few slits in the bottom of the foil to allow the fat to drain when cooking -- not required if using casings. Create a tiny opening top center sufficient for inserting meat thermometer or instant read thermometer later.
Place a roll onto a rack placed inside a baking sheet or pan with deep sides, and fill the bottom part of the pan with enough water to cover bottom of pan. This is to keep the salami moist and prevent any drippings from burning or smoking on the bottom of the pan -- but the liquid should not be touching the salami roll.
You can cook more than one roll at a time but will need to watch level of liquid in bottom of pan very carefully to ensure it doesn't rise too high as the salami rolls drip -- and be prepared to drain any excess so that liquid does not come into contact with salami rolls.
Bake for 90 minutes in the preheated oven or until salami log reaches internal temperature of 165 to 170 F degrees with an instant read or a meat thermometer
Remove from pan, leave foil on if used instead of casings, and rest for 30 minutes on a paper towel covered sheet pan or platter before unwrapping. Pat dry if required with paper towel. Finish cooling on a cooling rack. If used casings, cool on either rack or paper towel then pat or wipe dry if required to remove any excess oil.
When cooled, place in refrigerator covered or in airtight container to chill for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, slice, and serve.
Store covered in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or well wrap to avoid freezer burn and freeze.