Homemade Swedish Potato Sausage ♥ Recipe & Photos

Last month, twas my honor to witness something magical, a grandmother passing a family tradition along to two of her granddaughters. I took a few pictures so that readers might tag along too. Here's how to make homemade Swedish potato sausage, the classic Swedish dish, with step-by-step photos and tips.

It happened like a scene right out of Carl Larsson, the renowned Swedish painter who captured home and family scenes in the Swedish countryside in the last 1800s and early 1900s.

There we were on an unseasonably warm afternoon on the last day of November, the grandmother all organized and prepared, the kids smart from school, me bearing a camera and a tin of allspice -- all gathered in the kitchen to make one of the family's traditional Swedish recipes, an important dish for the feast on Christmas Eve.

The dish? Homemade potato sausage, 'potatis korv' en svenska. Here's how it's made, with love.

TESTIMONIALS
"We had a ball this afternoon grinding everything, cleaning the casings and just putting it all together." ~ The Larson Family
"I followed the recipe (except I used a sausage stuffer) and it turned out fantastic! My brother-in-law claimed it is the best he has ever had!" ~ Grant


(This post contains meat, a note to vegetarians.)




My neighbors across the street celebrate St. Lucia Day on Christmas Eve, not on the traditional date of December 13th. The tradition began when Max and Doris' own children were young. Now their children – and their grandchildren – help prepare for the celebration.

Doris (she's the proud grandma in the center), Erika (left) and Livvy (right) invited me over to watch the preparations. It was such a fun afternoon, watching the tradition being passed from one generation to another.
Here's how the homemade sausage looks when still uncooked. It's made from potatoes, onions and ground meat, spiced with allspice. It can be made ahead of time and then gently cooked and fried.

Get ready, it's going to be a fun afternoon making homemade Swedish potato sausage!
Cut 2 or 3 large onions into large chunks, then peel 5 pounds of uncooked red potatoes and cut them into large chunks too. Then grind the onions and potatoes. So long as the potatoes and onions aren't cut too fine, a food processor would work.
But Doris uses her grandmother’s much-beloved hand-cranked grinder, she wouldn’t consider anything else.

Who can blame her? The spirit of her grandmother, it lives on in those young hands that wo-manned the grinder that afternoon.
It’s hard work, grinding the potatoes and onions by hand.
A little boost is a big help.

(I'm just sure Carl Larsson would have loved Livvy's stool and unmatched pink socks as much as I did!)
To the onions and potatoes, stir in 3 pounds of ground meat, half ground beef and half ground pork.
Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Add a tablespoon of allspice too, one of the signature spices of Scandinavian specialties. (Don't skip the allspice, it's critical to the sausage's flavor.)
Now.comes.the.fun.part. Ask your butcher for sausage casings - if you're Livvy, you call them 'pig gut' because, well, that's what they are, the lining of a pig's intestines. I'm told you have to ask nicely, really nicely, because mostly grocery stores no longer have sausage casings. Max told me that when he got these at the Schnucks in Kirkwood, the meat person remembered, fondly, that the store once made its own potato sausage.

The casings are shimmied onto a slip of plastic (that's the red thing). A half pound of casings was two, maybe three times as much as needed for this recipe.
Who knew that a Bundt pan would be a home sausage-maker's favorite device?!

Slip the casing over the center tube, getting it as high as you can. Because the casing is quite slippery, wrap a paper towel around the center tube too, so that you're hanging onto the paper towel, not the casing itself.
Now.comes.the.squishy.part. But it's fun!

With your hands, gently press the meat mixture into the center tube. Long fingers like Erika's make it easier, Livvy's are shorter and so it was harder. I tried the end of a wooden spoon to press it in, that helped.
Make sure to hang onto the casing!

As the tube fills, the sausage will make its way into the casing. Use your hands to move it further into the casing.
Eventually, you'll end up with a looooooooooooog sausage, at least if you're as practiced as Erika. She made making sausage look so easy!
In the end, you'll have a half dozen or more of these sausages. Doris drops the sausages into a big pot of salted water with about 10 peppercorns. She starts with cold water so the delicate casings don't split, brings the water to a boil. Once the water boils, she turns off the heat and lets the sausages continue to cook gently in the hot water. She freezes the sausages in freezer bags right in the cooking water, so they stay moist.

On Christmas Eve, she'll thaw the sausages and then fry them and sprinkle with a little parsley.
On Christmas Eve, the family will sit down to a feast. Along with the Potato Sausage, there will be Smoked Salmon to start, then Swedish Meatballs (you might use my recipe for Finnish Meatballs, minus the cream sauce), Cabbage Rolls and Swedish Brown Beans. The meal will finish with bowls of creamy Rice Pudding for dessert. Some feast!
But there's more! There are costumes!

One granddaughter plays the role of St. Lucia and wears a crown of candles. Then there are Star Boys and Tomtons.

True story: I was staying with a Swedish family on St. Lucia Day in 1976. Early that morning, their blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter, Annikka, delivered sweet buns to all of us wearing a crown of candles, real candles, real flames, really beautiful!
Here's Brian (Erika and Livvy's little brother) with a Star Boy costume and Livvy who's donned a St. Lucia crown.

These kids love their family tradition! And I loved sharing it. Thank you, Doris and Max, thank you Erika and Livvy and Brian!




MORE SWEDISH RECIPES
~ Swedish Red Cabbage ~
~ Swedish Beets ~
~ more Scandinavian recipes ~
collected on Kitchen Parade, my food column




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2009


25 comments:

Oh Alanna - - -

We're going to be making turkey sausage from our own turkeys . . . and I can't wait to try the way to stuff the, well, we're not using real casings, casings that you describe!!!!! That was wonderful!

Blessings this wonderful Christmas Season and THANK YOU again!!!

Thank you for your emails, I've been enjoying them. I was interested to see the Swedish sausage post. Lately I've been curious about making sausage, as it's one of the more expensive things on my shopping list. The bundt pan idea was just the kind of helpful tip I needed!

Good work.

This is so wonderful! I've never thought to use a bundt pan. Awesome!

Yummy!

Wonderful post, Alanna. I still have sausage casings left from doing some chorizo and this looks like a 'must do'. Is there no salt and pepper- just allspice?

Kitchen Druid ~ Hmm, let me check with Doris. I do think the meat was seasoned with salt and pepper along with the allspice. Good catch, if they are!

Alanna, your description of this event borders on the poetic. I smiled all the way through (and glanced up at my Larssons on the kitchen wall occasionally).

I married a Swede whose family didn't think to pass on their recipes or most of their traditions, though he at least has good memories of the foods of his childhood. (Okay, lutefisk isn't on the 'good memories' list)

I'm inspired to make the sausage... it might be a meaninful surprise for Mr. Wonderful this Christmas!

That was a terrific post!

This is lovely. I love the legacy building.

This is one of those things I've always wanted to make but just wasn't sure if it was actually feasible - like marshmallows! Knowing the Bundt pan will make stuffing the casings easier makes it less daunting!

Kitchen Druid ~ Yes, salt and pepper are added too, I've updated the post so that it's in the recipe description. Thanks for being such a careful reader!

Fantastic, Alanna! A friend just pointed this post out to me; she's going to make the sausage and maybe I'll get to taste it!

Holiday best to you.

Dear Alanna, Wonderful post. You captured a moment in time for the family and for us! Thanks! Mary

marygunderson.com

What a treat! You are so lucky to have been able to see it first-hand!

Happy Holidays!

MMMM that looks so tastey, love all the pictures!

I LOVE your post, including the photos, of your family making potato sausage. I’ve never made it myself, but I make one that’s easier (in a loaf pan, like a meat loaf) and it’s one of our favorites. Otherwise, we buy potato sausage all over the place and have “taste tests.” I’m ¼ Swede and ½ Norwegian, so we know how to celebrate, don’t we? I made lefse this year, as I do every year, but we don’t have lutefisk unless my in-laws are with us.

Thanks so very much for getting back regarding the use of raw potatoes in our first attempt at making Swedish Potato Sausage. We had a ball this afternoon grinding everything, cleaning the casings and just putting it all together. The whole process took nearly 5 hours to do 16 pounds of this popular commodity. Most of the time was spent fumbling about not quite knowing what to do next. Ha! Ha! But that’s what made it such fun I think. At any rate, all went well and I know next time we will make it in half the time now that we know what we are doing. Thanks again for the help and best wishes for a very Merry Christmas!!! From the Larson family in Mukilteo, Washington.

I happened across your blog when I was searching Google for a recipe for Swedish sausage. I was drawn to it because of the descriptions and pictures of your neighbor ( and her Dala horses!). It really reminded me of my mother-in-law, who was a textbook Minnesotan Scandinavian/Lutheran.

I am the cook in our family and I love to try new things and my mother-in-law took great joy in showing me how to make the finer things in life, i.e.: lefse, krumkake, rice pudding, and I have even cooked lutefisk.

She passed away unexpectedly last January and one of the things we never got around to making was potato sausage.

My wife & brother-in-law love potato sausage so I thought I would learn how to make them some, and that is when I happened across your blog.

I followed the recipe (except I used a sausage stuffer) and it turned out fantastic! My brother-in-law claimed it is the best he has ever had!

So thank you for posting the blog, it is nice to see there are other families out there that share and enjoy being together and cooking together like we always did/do.

I think someone else touched on this but it still isn't clear to me. Do you grind the potatoes raw or cooked? Are the potatoes raw when you stuff the final mixture into the casings?

Any help is appreciated!
-Andrea

Andrea ~ Good question, yes the potatoes are raw. I've added that info, just to be perfectly clear for others, to the post as well. Thanks for asking!

We make 20 pounds at a time. We have a stuffing tool which is easier than the method shown here. We make rings about 18 inches long and cook them for 20 minutes after the water bois. We keep it at a gentle boil and eat them as soon as they are cooked. Any uncooked sausage we store covered by water in a pail in the refrigerator. Some we also freeze in freezer bags.

Halla Alanna, I read your recipe & saw the photos for the Swedish Potatis Korv, and it reminded me of watching my grandparents make it on their kitchen table with a hand grinder. Several years ago my Aunt Do made some with me and perfected Grandma's recipe using my Kitchen Aide mixer with a sausage grinder. When I make it this year, I am wondering if I should par boil it & keep it in water when I deliver it to a friend? One year I didn't keep it in water and it turned black from the starch. Tack så mycket,

Hi Delores, This is from Doris. She says, "I always leave the potato sausage in the water and freeze it that way. Then I carefully heat it up in the same water. I think the flavor is better and I too have had it turn black - ugh."

....What a trip down "Memory Lane" It was my job to "grind" the "potato mountain" into several cake pans....I think the "blisters" on my hands have finally healed after 60 some years passing......but the end result from all that work..... YUM YUM !!!!!

Thanks so much for this. It quite literally saved smorgasbord on Christmas eve. Our usually reliable local grocer had not made enough and were sold out two weeks prior. I followed the recipe and begged casings from my grocery store butcher. Everyone said it was better than what we usually had. Please thank the Larson family as well. I will be making my own from now on...and more often than December.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna