Lamb sausage is easy to make at home, and the addition of rosemary and red wine makes this a tasty, yet versatile treat. High-quality lamb will have plenty of fat, meaning that this sausage won’t lack richness or flavor.
The first time my husband and I made sausage, our two-month-old daughter watched us from the comfort of her bouncy seat. That’s what you’re supposed to do on maternity leave, right? We had just processed our two pigs at home, and an all-day sausage making bonanza followed as we made 100+ pounds of sausage in various flavors.
After that very long day in the sausage mines, we now work in small batches. Five pounds at a time is just about perfect. We’ve also realized our land is much better suited to raising lamb than pigs.
Luckily, we both actually prefer lamb to pork, and the local farms around here have shown us that it’s possible to make a truly epic 100% lamb sausage. We’ve been practicing, and I think this rosemary red wine lamb sausage is just about perfect.
The meat to fat ratio is important for both the flavor and texture of the finished sausage. Including 80% lean meat and 20% fat is a good ratio, and there’s plenty of fat on a lamb to make that happen. Ask your butcher for lamb fat, or buy a lamb leg and trim off all the fat (dicing the meat for a tasty curry). That’ll give you a little under 1 pound of fat, and then add it to an already fatty lamb shoulder.
Most sausage recipes have a truly absurd amount of salt included, and if you scroll to the comments, all the reviews say “really good recipe, just cut the salt in half…” Clearly, I’m not the only one that doesn’t like wicked salty sausage. Heavy salt recipes tend to include as much as a tablespoon of salt per pound, more moderate versions include 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons per pound. Personally, I’m very happy with about 1 teaspoon per pound and that’s how this recipe is written.
After you mix the meat, fry up a quick sausage patty and test the salt and seasonings before you put it in the casing. Everyone’s taste buds are different, and there’s still time for adjustment before you pack the sausage into casings.
A note on casings…hog casings are available year-round from our local grocery store meat section. That’s because we have a strong hunting culture in Vermont, and there are both spring and fall hunting seasons. Plus, there’s plenty of foodies who make their own sausage. Using hog casings results in a larger sausage that’s the normal size most people associate with a grilling link. For most of the country, the best place to get hog casings is ordering them online.
Regardless of where you live, sheep casings are a bit harder to come by, but they’re inexpensive and readily available online. Sheep casings make much smaller sausages, more the size of breakfast links. If you’re hoping to make a completely pork-free sausage, obviously go with sheep casings.
Ideally, mix the cubed meat and spices and allow the flavors to marry for about 24 hours in the fridge before grinding. If you’re short on time, you can just mix and grind but in that case, I’d increase the seasoning quantities slightly.
If you’d like you can leave this as a loose pack lamb sausage, perfect for adding to pasta sauce. We love making cased links, and they make a better presentation as the main dish. You can leave the cased sausage as one long rope sausage or twist it into links if you prefer.
Equipment for Sausage Making
To make this recipe you’ll need a meat grinder and either a dedicated sausage stuffer or a sausage stuffer attachment for a meat grinder. For beginners, I’d suggest using the KitchenAid meat grinder attachment which comes with sausage stuffer tubes, and assuming you already have a KitchenAid mixer that’s the cheapest way to get started. If you’re planning a lot of sausage making, invest in a good quality meat grinder. I use a 0.75hp LEM grinder and I stuff sausages using a stuffer attachment for the grinder.
Using a dedicated sausage stuffer results in better quality sausage, but they’re expensive.
For the wine, we're using Côtes du Rhône because it's our favorite, but really any decent red will work great. It's important to keep the meat cold so that the fat doesn't melt. If the fat melts during grinding and stuffing, the texture of the finished sausage will be dry.
For the wine, we're using Côtes du Rhône because it's our favorite, but really any decent red will work great.
It's important to keep the meat cold so that the fat doesn't melt. If the fat melts during grinding and stuffing, the texture of the finished sausage will be dry.