The noble pig sports several types:
- FatBack: (a.k.a. back fat) The hard fat found on the back of the pig. With a high melting-point, it is exceptionally well suited for sausage. It sometimes comes skin-on, in which case be sure to remove the skin before weighing or grinding.
- Jowl fat: Prized by fancy artisanal sausage makers for it’s more creamy texture.
- Shoulder Butt: (a.k.a. Boston butt, shoulder) A roast heavily marbled with fat, excellent for sausage. “Pork Butt” or shoulder trimmings are the most common source of fat specified in game recipes. Keep in mind a whole butt is about 30% fat, 70% lean. “Pork Butt Trimmings” are much higher in fat percentage, up to 90% depending on who did the trimming. So there is a huge difference, and they are not interchangeable in a sausage recipe.
- Belly Fat: (a.k.a pork belly, where bacon comes from) A soft fat with a low melting point. Some sources consider it unsuited for sausage. Probably best not to use belly fat or bacon unless the recipe specifically calls for it, or you’re experimenting on purpose.
- Kidney Fat: (a.k.a. leaf lard) A hard intestinal fat concentrated around the kidneys. Some consider it a bit too hard for sausage, but it has the most neutral (least “porky”) flavor, makes the flakiest pastries and the best lard.
Be warned that most grocery store meat counter folks, and even some butchers, don’t understand all of the above. I’ve had butchers tell me there is no difference between back fat and shoulder fat, and it just ain’t so.
Cost for fat varies widely. In deer hunting country supply and demand can drive the cost up during the peak of venison sausage making season. — supply and demand. I consider $1 a pound to be fair, but you may need to call around to get it for that.
Tweaking sausage recipes is part of the game — but two ingredients are worthy of caution: salt and fat. Too much or too little of either can ruin things.
When adjusting fat or salt in a proven recipe, it’s best to test with a small batch first to be sure you’re hitting your target. Even changing the type of fat can produce a large swing in the taste or texture of your sausage.
Salt density varies widely by type and even brand. Going by weight is safest. But if you measure by volume using a different type of salt than the recipe presumes—you could be way off. The intarwebs has a WIDE range of opinions on the salt density of the various types and brands. The volumes in this recipe are based on sources that seemed the most credible.
This recipe includes eggs & dairy, which produce a nice firm texture when poached. You can skip poaching if preparing and serving right away. But proper poaching (152°F for at least 3 minutes) also pasteurizes the sausage, extending shelf life.