By Leigh McCarren
Ownership and Outreach Specialist
At the Wedge and Linden Hills Co-op, we’re proud to make our fresh sausages from scratch. We use only the best, highest quality ingredients in our sausages. The talented butchers in our Meat Departments develop recipes, assemble ingredients and link each sausage by hand to create the delicious sausages you see in the meat case.
I visited the Linden Hills Meat Department when they were making their Highland Lamb Sausage, a unique seasonal recipe developed by the Assistant Meat Manager, Jeff Nielsen. The recipe was inspired by Scottish haggis sausage, traditionally made with a variety of sheep organs, spices and oats. Jeff’s take on haggis contains boneless leg of lamb ground with pork fat, fresh onions, coriander, nutmeg, allspice and toasted oats.
After toasting the oats in the kitchen, Jeff combines all the spices into a “spice batch.” All spices are measured out by weight, so the recipe can be adjusted to how much sausage he’s planning to make that day.
Temperature is an important part of the sausage-making process. Everything must be extremely cold in order to maintain the consistency of the sausage. The whole process takes place in the cooler, from mixing, to grinding, to filling the sausage casings.
The pork fat for all sausages at Linden Hills comes from the hogs they butcher in house. Half hogs are delivered from Pastures A Plenty farm in Clara City, MN.
Butchers break down the animal into the cuts you see in the case, grind them into bulk sausage, and save extra fat to be added to the sausage.
Jeff prefers to use chicken stock instead of water in his sausage recipes for the extra flavor and nutrition. All sausage ingredients are high-quality products taken from the shelves at Linden Hills Co-op.
The pork fat and boneless lamb pieces are sent through the meat grinder once to be combined into a course grind before going through again with the added onions, spices and chicken stock.
After all ingredients are added, Jeff lets the grinder machine do the work of mixing and grinding the sausage to the desired consistency. Jeff knows when it’s ready by the feel and look of it. When he started in the Meat Department 10 years ago, the co-op wasn’t making their own sausage in house. Jeff encouraged the department to purchase the equipment needed, developed recipes, and learned the skills of sausage making through trial and error.
The next step of the process is filling the natural hog casings with the sausage mixture. Jeff swaps out the attachment on the grinder into a funnel-shaped piece that allows him to fill the casings. Maintaining the speed and size of the sausage is a unique skill. If the butcher fills the casing too full, it will be harder to shape into links later in the process.
When all sausage is in the casings, the linking begins. Several butchers help with the process of twisting the long sausages into links. Linked sausages are left in the cooler for a day to cure before being frozen, packaged or put directly into the meat case.
TRY OUR housemade Brats & sausages
Linden Hills —
Bratwursts: Fresh Pork • Beer & Onion Apricot & Orange
Sausages: Garlic & Black Pepper • Hot Italian Pork • Mild Italian Turkey & Pork
Wedge Lyndale —
Bratwursts: Pork • Pork Apple Cider
Sausages: Lamb • Pork Sweet Italian • Chicken Jamaican Jerk Peter’s Turkey Day • Turkey Andouille • Chicken Sweet Italian • Pork Hot Italian • Chicken Spinach Feta • Pork Chorizo • Pork Banh Mi • Chicken Hot Italian