The owners of Dog Haus have big plans. They already operate three company-owned locations in Pasadena, Old Pasadena and Alhambra, and there are five franchise restaurants in greater L.A. On May 9, the first out-of-state franchise location of Dog Haus will open in Centennial, Colorado. Further expansion is in the works with more than 80 franchise restaurants planned for California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and beyond. The hope is that soon, Dog Haus will be a national brand.
There are many people behind the success of the fast-casual sausage restaurant, but one of the most important is Adam Gertler, who develops and creates all the sausages on the menu. We wondered what it takes to be a master sausage maker (and in the process give us some tips on how we might make sausages at home), and Gertler was good enough to let us know his must-have tools.
5. Meat Grinder
“A meat grinder is absolutely essential for breaking down meat when you're making a sausage. The key thing to look for is something with high horse power (3/4-1hp), although you can get by with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer attachment as well. Before getting started, make sure your meat is cubed to an appropriate size for the grinder and also extremely cold. After cubing the meat you must chill the meat to almost frozen. If the meat isn't cold enough, the sausage emulsion will break.”
4. A Five-Pound Sausage Stuffer
“While the meat grinder attachment will do in a pinch for the home cook, I don't like to use the sausage stuffer attachment on the Kitchen Aid-style stand mixers because they can warm the filling, potentially causing the sausage to break. A five-pound capacity stuffer isn't that expensive, and because most simpler crank-and-gear-based machines and aren't electric any way, they can last forever. The best place to find a sausage stuffer is online at sites like sausagemaker.com.”
3. Sausage Pricker
“This is the most simple thing in the world, but is a vital part of the sausage-making process. It's just three needles sticking out of a handle, but it is essential for eliminating air pockets from sausage casing. A knife will tear too big a whole and air pockets create gaps in the sausage. To use a sausage-pricker (always fun to say by the way), you simply prick the sausage during the stuffing and linking process.”
“In order to develop the firm and springy texture of a würst, as opposed to the crumbly texture sometimes associated with bad Italian sausage, the mixture needs to be worked very hard to develop myosin, the protein that forms the web or net that gives sausage a desirable texture. This is best accomplished in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
“Your mixture will involve a combination of lean to fatty meat. I like a 60/40 ratio. You'll add salt (8 grams per pound of meat), and from there, the seasonings, herbs, cheeses, etc. The only limits are pretty much your imagination. For example, at Dog Haus, we make a Thai Red Currywurst sausage that contains red curry paste, Thai chilies, fresh basil, and kaffir lime leaves, but it starts — like all good sausages — with the appropriate ratio of meat to salt, ground and mixed at the right temperature.”
“This is maybe the most important of all tools. You can make a sausage in a food processor. You can skip the stuffing and form patties. You can mix it by hand, but if the meat is not extremely cold, like under 32° before you start, you will never have good sausage. You will have meatloaf. When you mix the mixture in the mixer, the temperature will rise, it should come up to about 40°.”