Texas Hot Links

Red hot beef sausage on a cutting board

Milanfoto / Getty Images

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Inactive Time: 19 hrs
Total: 20 hrs
Servings: 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
239 Calories
8g Fat
5g Carbs
37g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 239
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 112mg 37%
Sodium 695mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 395mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You can recreate a Texas tradition in your own kitchen with chef Ryan Farr's version of the famous Texas hot links. This dish, strongly engraved in the Southern tradition, probably originated with Spanish recipes in New Orleans, but it quickly expanded to other areas. In Texas included, it's usually served with bread, pickles, and onion slices.

It's usually made out of beef, sometimes pork and beef, and heavily seasoned with spices like paprika, chili, and coriander. Farr's take on the sausages uses beef chuck, a tough and tasty cut of beef. These then should be hot-smoked until cooked through to an internal temperature of 148 F. If lacking the necessary equipment for smoking, poach or gently grill the meat to an equally wonderful result.

It's not hard to make sausage at home. You need about 20 feet of large or medium hog casings for this recipe (rehydrated overnight), which you can order online or purchase from a specialty butcher. This recipe is found in Ryan Farr's book "Whole Beast Butchery," (2011) reproduced here with permission from Chronicle Books.

Ingredients

  • 20 feet hog casing

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt (or Kosher salt)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper , freshly ground

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 3 to 4 pounds beef chuck , very cold

  • 1/3 cup ice water

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Prepare the Sausage Casings

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Soak hog casings in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate overnight.

  3. Untangle casings and begin to open them up with the help of the sink faucet nozzle: hold one end of each piece of casing up to nozzle and support it with your other hand, gently turning on water and letting it run through casings to check for holes. If there are any holes in casings, cut out those pieces. Keep casings in a bowl of ice water or refrigerate until stuffing time.

Make the Stuffing

  1. In a small bowl, mix salt, cayenne, paprika, sugar, mustard powder, pepper, coriander seeds, and chili powder. Reserve.

  2. With a sharp boning knife, clean beef chuck, removing meat and fat from bones.

  3. Freeze meat, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes, until surface feels crunchy to the touch and interior is very cold, but frozen.​

  4. Cut beef into 1-inch cubes or a size slightly smaller than the opening of the meat grinder.

  5. Freeze meat again, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes, until surface of meat is crunchy to the touch and interior is very cold, but not frozen.

  6. Prepare a clean and chilled meat grinder, fitting it with medium plate. Start auger and, without using supplied pusher, let auger gently grab each cube of meat and bring it forward toward blade and through grinding plate. Continue grinding until all of the meat has been processed.

  7. Place processed meat in a clean, cold nonreactive bowl or tub and open-freeze, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes, until surface is crunchy to touch and interior is very cold, but not frozen.

  8. In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine dry spice mixture with ice water and yellow mustard, Whisk together until blended to texture of a slurry.

  9. In a large, wide basin, combine cold meat with spice slurry. With clean hands, begin kneading and turning mixture as you would a large quantity of bread dough. The mixture will acquire a somewhat creamy texture because of the warmth of your hands, a sign that you have finished mixing. Spoon out a few tablespoons of the mixture, reserve covered, and return remainder to the refrigerator.

  10. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, lightly fry a test portion of sausage mixture until cooked through but not caramelized. Taste for seasoning. Based on this taste test, you can adjust the salt in the main portion of sausage, if desired.

Stuff the Sausages

  1. Prepare a chilled sausage stuffer and place the water-filled bowl of casings next to it. You will also need a landing surface of clean trays or parchment paper-lined baking sheets for finished sausages. Load sausage mixture into canister of sausage stuffer, compacting it very lightly with a spatula to be sure there are no air pockets. Replace the lid.

  2. Thread a length of casing all the way onto stuffing horn and start cranking just enough to move a little of the ground meat mixture into casing. As soon as you can see meat poking through nose of stuffer, stop and crank backward slightly to halt forward movement. Pinch casing where meat starts, to extrude all the air and tie into a knot.

  3. Start cranking again with one hand while you support emerging sausage with the other. Move casing out slowly to allow it to fill fully. Don't overfill; sausages need to give a little when it comes time to form links. When you get close to the end, leave 6 inches of unstuffed casing and stop cranking.

  4. With big sausage on your landing area, find initial knot and measure 6 inches of sausage. Pinch sausage gently to form your first link, and twist forward for about seven rotations.

  5. Move another 6 inches down sausage, and this time, pinch firmly and twist backward. Repeat this process every 6 inches, alternating forward and backward twists in casings, until you reach open end of casing.

  6. Twist open end right at last bit of sausage to seal off whole coil, and then tie a knot.

  7. Hang sausage overnight in a refrigerator, or refrigerate on parchment paper-lined baking sheets covered with plastic wrap, to allow casing to form fully to meat, and sausage to settle.

  8. Poach, grill, smoke, or bake sausages.

How to Store and Freeze Texas Hot Links

These will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks if they're in a vacuum-sealed package or tightly wrapped. You can also freeze them for up to 6 months if stored in similar packaging.