Classin’ up SAUSAGE

Sometimes I’m a glutton for punishment. That must be the explanation for my affection for the Jags as well as my propensity to take the simple and make it complex. For example, this simple cooking class: Children’s Taco Camp. Easy enough, cook a little chicken, sear some ground meat, prep lettuce and cheese, and stuff them in a taco shell, like the old taco kits. Perfect, straightforward and entertaining, right?

Wrong. I’m a chef, not a babysitter, and if I’m not entertained by the food, what’s the point? If there’s no excitement or passion it becomes mundane, pedestrian, uninspired, corporate, Middle America-style mediocre. You might as well buy from the Schwan’s truck.

Therefore, my kids’ classes deserve to be Cheffed Up just as much as the adults’. It’s never too early to start establishing proper kitchen habits, which should be based on correct technique, respect for tradition, utilization of fresh ingredients and meticulous sanitation. Am I right? You know it!

My indoctrination, er, I mean, instruction, began with the kids marinating and roasting fresh chicken, which would later be pulled. They shredded cheddar cheese; crumbled queso fresco, learned to chiffonade lettuce, pickle red onions, and create pico de gallo. To complete the process, each kid seared tortillas à la plancha.

Instead of insipid ground beef, I chose fresh handmade chorizo. It’s my chance
to quell any potential veganism in the children by introducing them to the joys
of sausage-making.

The history of sausage can be traced to the ancient Greeks. Odysseus is said to have carried sausage to Troy. Sausage, consequently, was partly responsible for the defeat of the Trojans. Epic.

The basic anatomy of a sausage is ground meat, seasonings and fat. Simple sausages, such as breakfast sausages, don’t even require stuffing­–no specialty equipment or specialty food products necessary.

The most important thing to keep in mind when making sausage is to keep everything as cold as possible. The first step: Cut your meat and fat (there should be 70 to 80 percent lean-to-fat ratio) into pieces small enough to fit through the meat grinder base. Next, aggressively season the meats and chill overnight.

When ready to grind—work quickly. After grinding, chill the meats for 30 minutes or so. Then put the meats in a mixing bowl with a paddle and mix on medium to medium-high until the mixture becomes tacky. Break off a piece and taste. You can easily adjust the seasonings at this point. Now you’re ready to form patties, stuff, smoke or just cook your masterpiece. This is the chorizo recipe we produced in class.

Chef Bill’s Mexican Chorizo

  • 2-1/2 Pounds pork butt, cubed
  • 12 Oz. fatback, cubed
  • 20 Grams kosher salt
  • 8 Grams ancho chile powder
  • 4 Grams hot paprika
  • 4 Grams chipotle powder
  • 9 Grams garlic, minced
  • 1 Gram black pepper
  • 3 Grams oregano
  • 3/4 Gram cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. tequila, ice cold
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, ice cold


  1. Mix the meats and seasonings together, except the tequila and vinegar. Chill.
  2. Grind through the large die. Chill.
  3. Place in a mixing bowl with a paddle, mix on medium speed and slowly add the tequila and vinegar. Mix until tacky. Taste, adjust seasoning.
  4. Stuff in sausage casings, make patties, smoke or cook.

Until we cook again,


Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Amelia Island Culinary Academy in Fernandina Beach, at [email protected] to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!