So the other day we got a deer and decided to butcher it all out ourselves (gotta start sometime). Did an OK job and all, and probably as a result of our doing it ourselves we have probably more sausage meat than we would have had from the butcher. So we go about making our own sausage.
First hurdle: The "sausage grinder" we inherited from my in-laws is actually a tomato strainer (they look very similar when you just peek inside the box before storing it away).
Second hurdle: The meat grinder we did find doesn't have the sausage stuffer attachment, plus it goes on an old mixer that the electric motor has lost power on- that ain't going to work.
Third hurdle: Go to my buddy's house to pick up his grinder attachment that goes on a KitchenAid mixer (we have one of those, but his attachment is one of the old school Made in the USA aluminum ones, not the crappy plastic Chinese garbage they sell today) but he also does not have the sausage stuffing attachments (these are just tubes that fit on the output of the grinder and you put the sausage casing on the tube, as it fills up you twist it off and fill the next one).
So, on my "way home" (which means a wide detour down town) I stop by the Ace Hardware store hoping they might have the tubes. No go.
I call home and explain, offering to stop by the gourmet cooking store in town (Sur La Table) and see what they have. As I am driving over there they are on the computer and have called the store to ask advice and the gal at the store says they have a really good hand crank model that works like a charm for @ $40 http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-650648/Cucina-Pro-Meat-Grinder-with-Clamp
The $40 grinder (made in China) gives us fits. The tolerances are way to wide and it recirculates the meat back up the intake when it gets any resistance. The pork fat gets warm and plugs everything up, basically the thing is a piece of crap.
So, we take my buddy's KitchenAid attachment and start grinding away- works like a charm! Grinds out about 10 lbs in no time at all. Then to stuff the casings we have to try the piece of crap from Sur la Table again. We got one single sausage made before it plugged up and started pumping back up the intake again.
So we put all of the bulk sausage we have made into the freezer so we can get the proper quality equipment.
Anyhow, my wife went down to return the piece of crap, my son has done some research and found the Lem company ( http://www.lemproducts.com/
) which has some really affordable products that appear to be high quality. I found a local retailer and called them up and asked a bunch of questions. The gal I talked to makes her own sausage and was very helpful. She does have a small grinder/stuffer made by Weston and she believes that the Weston and Lem machines are made by the same manufacturer (unfortunately made in China like damned near everything else these days). It looks like a choice between the Lem electric countertop grinder for $120 http://www.lemproducts.com/product/4259/electric-meat-grinders
or the Weston #8 hand crank grinder for $25. Obviously if price alone were the deciding factor I would go for the hand crank, plus the versatility of being able to make sausage without having to rely on electricity would be a plus.
I'll let you all know what happens next.