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I have recently taken akin to making my own sausages. The flavor and texture is pretty spot on, but when I cook them the links 'unlink'. I use a natural casing, and reverse twist every link at about 6". When I cook them I boild them for about 6-8 minutes before finishing in a pan. Typically in the transfer from the water to the pan the links unroll and turn into one giant link. How do I keep the links separate, do I need to tie off each link individually when stuffing them, or am I missing some crucial step? Also, when I cut the links apart I lose a lot of the juices.

One liner: How do I keep my homemade sausage links separate during cooking, and not lose their juices when separating them.

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my initial guess is your not twisting the links tight enough but I find it curious that they unlink after the boiling since the meat should be set by then and segregated into their individual sausage shapes. –  Brendan Feb 19 '13 at 16:55
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1 Answer

You need to let the sausages sit exposed to some air -- refrigerated, of course -- for a few hours (preferably overnight) so that the twisted segments of casing dry out and become tough again. Lay them out on a baking sheet, uncovered, and flip them at some point to make sure the whole surface is drying. If you have space, you can hang them up so that all sides are getting air at once. (Aside: this is also an important step for smoked sausage. See "sausage pellicle".)

If you don't have time for that, you can tie off each twist with a bit of butcher's twine (although this is also time-consuming and rather mind-numbing). One loop, cinched tight around each twist, will keep them from untwisting in the water. If you're really pressed for time, stuff the casings a little tighter and don't link them at all. When these full-length sausages have cooled, you can simply slice them into your desired portions.

Also, if you're losing "a lot of juices", you are either overcooking the sausage or not emulsifying it properly. There should be very little juice exuded when you cut into a link. You need to keep the ground meat quite cold during every stage up until cooking. The sausage should become quite tacky after mixing -- enough that it actually sticks to a rubber spatula (although some variation is possible for stylistic reasons). Don't boil the links, either, when it comes to that stage. Poach them in (salted) water in the 180-190˚F range, and check them with a thermometer -- they don't need to go higher than 160˚F (former "safe pork cooking temp" recommended by USDA). I shoot for 145-150˚.

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