PWE Hot Links

I like hot links so I wanted to make some. This presented a problem. Most hot links are hot (surprise!). She Who Must Be Obeyed does not like very spicy food. I decided what the heck, I was going to make some whether she liked them or not. Of course, I asked her permission first.

There are many different kind of hot links, Louisiana, Texas, Tex Mex just to name a few. They vary by level of heat and seasoning blend. I wanted to make one that was hot without being painful with a nice complex flavour profile. I was inspired by a post of an honoured member on Smoking Meat Forums, Chef Willie. He makes a Texas Hot Link that is highly regarded on the forums. I made it a bit milder to fit tame Canadian tastes and called it PWE Hot Links after our estate, Passing Wind Estates.

Remember it is critical to keep the meat cold when making sausage. It just grinds better and gives a better consistency. Whenever you aren’t doing something with the meat, put it in the fridge.

The recipe calls for Prague powder #1. This is a curing salt and is also known as pink salt #1, Instacure #1 and several other names. Any curing salt that is  6.25% sodium nitrite 97.75% salt is fine.

I started by rinsing some hog casings out the night before and leaving them in cold water. The next day, I put them in warm water before starting the sausages.

If you can’t get natural pork casings, you can use collagen casing. These don’t usually require soaking but check the manufacturer’s instructions.

I cut some pork shoulder steaks into 1 inch cubes and put them in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.

While they were chilling, I made a slurry. You make this by mixing the following ingredients per kilogram of pork you have:

  • 125 ml beer
  • 10 ml ground pepper
  • 11 ml crushed chillies
  • 11 ml cayenne
  • 13 ml paprika
  • 14 ml kosher salt
  • 7 ml mustard seed
  • 15 ml minced garlic
  • 2 ml ground coriander
  • 2 ml dried thyme
  • 1 ml mustard powder
  • 7 ml light corn syrup
  • 25 ml skim milk powder
  • 3 grams Prague powder #1

If you are metrically challenged, mix the following amounts per pound of pork:

  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed chilies
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 5/8 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 5/8 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons skim milk powder
  • 0.048 Prague powder #1

After the slurry is mixed, put it in the fridge.

I ground the pork through the medium plate of my stand mixer and spread it on a tray. I poured the slurry over the top and mixed it by folding the meat in half and pressing it out. Then I turned the tray 1/4 turn and repeated for 3 to 4 minutes.

Then I put the meat in the bowl of my stand mixer with the paddle attached and beat it at medium speed for 3 minutes.

I put the meat in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

I put the casings on the horn of my sausage stuffer and stuffed the casings. I really recommend you get a dedicated sausage stuffer. I have tried using the stuffing attachment on my stand mixer and it is a real pain.

I measured the sausages to 6 inch lengths and twisted them. I cut each twist to make individual sausages.

I cold smoked the sausages by putting my A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker in my Louisiana Grills smoker and not turning it on for 4 hours. I put some ice in the smoker to keep the temperatures down. As the meat is cured, it isn’t really necessary.

You can skip the cold smoking all together if you’d like. I just like a touch of smoke but the sausages would be great even without it.

Whether you cold smoke the sausages or not, put them in the fridge overnight for the flavours to blend.

Using either your oven or a smoker, set the temperature as low as you can down to 150 F. The temperature can not be above 180 F. Put the links on a rack in the smoker or on a rack over a tray in the oven. Cook for one hour and then slowly increase the temperature to 180 F by increasing it 5 degrees every 1/2 hour.

If you cook your sausage at too high a temperature, it can cause the fat to separate out and this makes for a poor consistency. If you keep the temperature at 180 F or below, you should be fine.

Cook the sausage to an internal temperature of 155 F and take them out. Let them sit on the counter for an hour and then put them in the fridge, covered, overnight.

They can be cooked any way you would cook a hot dog but really shine when they are grilled. I made up the first one and somehow a piece of it immediately disappeared!

The Verdict

These are great hot links! A nice spicy sausage with a great bite and very moist. The spice was lots for me but if you are into burn your mouth out hot, these aren’t them. However, your mouth will be warm after each bite. I would say they are the same heat as hot pepperoni.

There is no way SWMBO will eat these and that really upsets me. Sigh, I will just have to eat them all myself.

The Old Fat Guy

PWE Hot Links

PWE Hot Links

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork shoulder cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 feet pork casings or collagen casings
  • 125 ml beer
  • 10 ml ground pepper
  • 11 ml crushed chilies
  • 11 ml cayenne
  • 13 ml paprika
  • 14 ml kosher salt
  • 7 ml mustard seed
  • 15 ml minced garlic
  • 2 ml ground coriander
  • 2 ml dried thyme
  • 1 ml mustard powder
  • 7 ml light corn syrup
  • 25 ml skim milk powder
  • 3 grams Prague powder #1

Instructions

  1. Put the pork in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.
  2. Make a slurry by combining all ingredients except the pork and casings. Put the slurry in the fridge.
  3. Grind the pork through the medium plate of your grinder.
  4. Spread the pork on a tray and pour the slurry over the top.
  5. Mix the pork and slurry by folding it over and pressing down. Rotate the tray and repeat for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Put the pork in the bowl of a stand mixer and affix the paddle. Mix at medium speed for 3 minutes.
  7. Chill the pork for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  8. Stuff the pork into the casings and twist to 6 inch lengths. Cut to single sausages.
  9. This step is optional. Cold smoke the sausages for 4 hours.
  10. Put the sausages in the fridge, uncovered, overnight.
  11. Preheat your smoker or oven to 150 F or the lowest temperature it will go to.
  12. Put the sausages in the smoker or on a rack over a tray in the oven.
  13. Cook the sausages for 1 hour.
  14. Increase the temperature to 5 degrees at a time every 1/2 hour until the cooking temperature is 180 F.
  15. Cook the sausages to an internal temperature of 155 F.
  16. Let sit on the counter for 1 hour.
  17. Put in the fridge overnight.
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