Making sausage

Home cooks can learn the craft

12/06/2012 12:00 PM

By Bill Motchan

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Rookie sausage-maker Christine DiMiceli (right) assisted by Westminster Hot Dog owner Mike Wojcik.

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” --
Otto von Bismarck

Sausage-making, as it turns out, is actually easier to watch than the legislative process. Since we live in one of the world’s meccas for “forcemeat” it seems fitting that every Chicagoan who’s ever hoisted a hot dog or sausage learn a bit more about the craft. I did just that, attending a sausage-making class at West Loop hot dog emporium Westminster Hot Dog at 1045 W. Madison.

Westminster owner Mike Wojcik led a group of 10 sausage aficionados through the process, allowing the class to encase and create their own Polish and Italian sausage. They also got to take their sausage home to cook.

The basic ingredients, Wojcik said, are pork shoulder, salt, pepper, garlic and marjoram. The actual formula used by Westminster is a secret, but all sausage starts with those staples. From that point, you can add red pepper flakes, fennel seed, mace or any other spices.

Equipment for home sausage-making is affordable, Wojcik said. You can get in the game for a couple of hundred dollars. The toughest ingredient to get is the casing itself—pig intestines (OK, so for the squeamish, this may be was Otto von Bismarck was getting at). Most butcher shops that make sausage will sell the casings.

If you’d like to take a sausage-making class at Westminster, you can sign up on Groupon. Classes cost $55 per person and fill up quickly. Westminster will offer the classes Dec. 15, Jan. 5, Jan. 19, and Feb. 2 at 2:30 p.m., and Dec. 12, Jan. 9 and Jan. 30 at 6 p.m.

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