Italian Sausage – How to Trim Fat Off of Meat

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 33,253
    Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue demonstrates how to trim fat off of meat for Italian sausage.

    Tom Papoutsis

    Tom Papoutsis is a “Firehouse Chef” that currently holds the rank of Lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Tom’s experience in the Fire Service spans over 29 years, 19 of which have been with Fairfax County. The bulk of his firehouse culinary expertise has been practiced during his tenure there. He was a national finalist in the 2004 Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition finishing in the top 10 of the nations Firehouse Chef’s, and traveled to New York City to compete in a cook off with his peers. He has also been placed on the “charity” auction block several times to prepare meals for the highest bidder. Tom likes to specialize in Italian and Greek cuisine being of the same heritage, but also enjoys preparing Asian and of course “Good Ole American” foods as well. He concentrates on entrées but also has a few hors d’oeuvres and dessert specialties as well, such as his versions of Bruschetta and Amaretto Cheesecake. For the past year he has been studying the practice of making homemade Italian deli meats and sausages. Tom’s motto: “It’s just cooking, not rocket science, take a chance…..you might like it!” Residing in Chambersburg, PA with his wife JoAnn, twins Jonathan & Katie and “Buddy” their Golden Retriever. Tom enjoys cycling, hunting, fishing, woodworking, raising his children and helping form today’s youth while volunteering with son Jonathan’s Cub Scout pack. Tom can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

    Hi! Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis, back making homemade Italian sausage, Fire station One in McLean, Virginia; its Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Okay, this cut of meat, if you look at it, it doesnt look bad here, but when you flip it over, its like, Oh my! There is a ton of fat on here. Actually, you probably dont want all that fat in your sausage. A bit of fat is okay, but we really dont want a whole bunch. So, what I am going to do is to start trimming this fat off of here? As you can see, I have a little corner here; I am going to take my knife and I am going to just kind of start -- I am going to pull this corner up, and I am going to start trimming this back. Now as I trim, and I cut this back, whats going to happen is -- and I'll do it so you can see what I am doing -- I am going to follow this line back, and then I'll start pulling. When I start pulling, I am going to catch that fat, and then, I am going to take the tip of my knife, and I am going to start -- with a very sharp knife, just start cutting that back. Now you can see, I kind of missed a spot there, but I'll come back and pick it up. Theres going to be a little bit of a meat that actually gets kind of hung-up on here, but this is how you trim it. Pull it back, and you can actually just pull it back and trim, and keep trimming, and the tip of a knife typically works pretty good, but you see how I pull that back and just trim it back, thats all youve got to do right there. You can see how much of the fat is actually coming off - there you go. Thats a big hunk of pork fat right there. This piece right here, if I want to save that little bit of meat right there, thats the good stuff, just trim it off. Youve got a little bit of fat on it, but its not too bad. Thats really not worth saving, so we are going to get rid of that. Okay, this here, weve got a little bit more fat here, I am just going to kind of, trim this off here - there we go, trim that. Okay. Now the rest of the fat we are probably going to leave in. So, we leave this fat in here, and as most of you know, sausages, it cooks the fat off of it. And like I said before, if you really want some lean meat to make sausage with, wait till pork loin goes on sale, use the pork loin, thats about as lean as you can get, and that will make real good lean sausage. This is basically your typical, normal, pork sausage that we are making. So, also I am going to do is cut this, and I am just going to kind of cut it into pieces like this, and we are going to get ready to grind this meat. I am making my strips; they are all probably about three quarters of an inch by three quarters of an inch, and they should feed fairly nicely down into the machine. So, we are going to just trim this up; if you think theres a little bit too much fat on a piece, take it out. That has a little bit more fat than I want, so I'll just trim that fat out; and as we go, we look at how much we have. This is a big -- see here, look at this fat here; it goes the whole way through to here. So, I am going to take that big piece of fat and we are going to cut that big piece of fat out. I may want to just keep a little bit of that; well trim that, thats it, okay? So, what well do is, well finish cutting this meat, well come back, and then we are going to start grinding.