Throughout the South, a key player on any BBQ menu is always a smoked sausage. Whether cheesy jalepeño, smoked garlic, applewood chicken, or any other variety, a great smokehouse will always feature a fantastic sausage, usually made in-house. But just because your backyard isn’t a famous Southern smokehouse doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a great sausage up your own sleeve! And if you’re going to do smoked sausage, you may as well start with Cajun-style Andouille.
Andouille (pronounced an-DO-ee) sausage is a classic part of Cajun cuisine and is descended—by way of delicious improvement—from the French Andouille. Often made of coarse ground pork, it is highly seasoned, made with curing salt, and smoked to perfection. Andouille sausages can be cold smoked or hot smoked, depending on the final use. They can go into a killer gumbo or any other stew, or be served as a course in and of themselves. Today, we’re hot smoking our sausages to eat on a bun with some sauteed peppers and onions, but the same principles apply to any hot-smoked sausage preparation.
There are two stages in sausage-making when
Of course, the other temperature-critical stage is cooking. Nailing the temperature for the cook is important for both safety and deliciousness. Sausages are, by definition, made of ground or minced meat, so they must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 160°F (71°C). But go over that final temperature by even a little and you run the risk of drying your sausage out—and a dried out sausage that was supposed to be juicy is nobody’s friend.
Now, grill surface temperatures typically exceed 500°F (260°C). On a hot grill, we would be hard-pressed to hit 160°F (71°C) without overcooking. But because we’re smoking our andouille sausage, we’ll be cooking these beauties at a nice, easy 225°F (107°C) smoking temperature for a longer period of time. In a “low and slow” smoker, it’s easier to pull things off the heat at precisely the right temperature, especially if you track the internal temperature of your sausages and the smoker air temps with a multi-channel thermometer like Smoke™.
A note on curing salt
This recipe uses curing salt, which changes the color and flavor of the finished product. It is very important to use the correct curing salt, and it is very important to use the right amount. Use Instacure #1 or Prague Powder #1, which are the correct salts used for foods that will be cooked, rather than slowly air-cured. And be sure to use an accurate scale to weigh out the amount of salt you use. Salt proportion is very important. Too much curing salt can actually be toxic.
Smoked Andouille Sausage Recipe
For the sausage:
- 5 lb boneless pork butt, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 oz kosher salt
- 6 grams—use a scale!—pink salt (Instacure #1)
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp ground mace
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 3/4 tsp ground mustard seed
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 10 feet hog casings
- Peppers and onions for sauteeing
- Olive or other oil for sauteeing
- Before assembling your sausage, put all of the components of your grinder into the freezer to chill.
- Combine the cubed pork butt with all of the other sausage ingredients and mix them together well to evenly distribute the seasonings.
- Chill the pork/seasoning mixture in the freezer, as well, for at about 15 minutes, or until the pork is firm to the touch but not frozen.
- Assemble your chilled grinder and grind the pork/seasoning mixture through a coarse grinding plate into a bowl set in ice.
- Mix the ground sausage well until it becomes stringy-fibrous looking—an indication that the myosin network has formed that will help keep the sausage moist.
- Stuff the mixed, ground sausage into the casings, being sure not to overstuff them.
- Link the sausage by pinching at about 6″ intervals and twisting, reversing twist direction every time. Do not cut the links apart.
- Allow the sausages to dry for 1–2 hours in the refrigerator, uncovered, before smoking them.
- Preheat your smoker to 225°F (107°C). Place your air probe near where your sausages will be cooking and set the high-temp alarm for the air probe on your Smoke to 250°F (121°C) and the low-temp alarm to 200°F (93°C)
- Place the whole chain of sausages in the smoker. Insert a probe into one of the sausages and set the meat probe high-alarm on your Smoke to 160°F (71°C).
- Smoke the sausages.
- While the sausages smoke, sauté your peppers and onions to your preferred doneness.
- When the meat-channel high-alarm sounds on your Smoke, verify that the temperature is 160°F (71°C) in all of the links with a Thermapen® Mk4.
- Remove the sausages from heat and allow to cool slightly before piling them with sauteed peppers and onions onto buns that have been smeared with good mustard.
Spicy, savory, hearty: andouille has lots of variations, but this one is a fine example. You can play with the spice level. You can tweak the seasonings. And of course, you can use this method for any smoked sausage recipe. Try it out, and just like the very best smokehouses, you’ll soon have a spectacular smoked sausage in heavy rotation on your own smoker. Just be sure to keep both the meat and your equipment cold while you’re working it and to cook to 160°F (71°C) with your Smoke and Thermapen Mk4 for safe, juicy results.
For more on homemade sausages, be sure to read about Making Homemade Bratwurst.