Smoked sausages are created from ground meat mixed with spices and used to fill a sausage casing, before being dried and placed in a smoker. Different types of meat can be used for this process, though beef and pork are both quite common while some people may prefer a blend of meats. Various spices are typically added to the ground meat, which usually includes some type of curing agent to discourage the development of bacteria. Smoked sausages then gain their name through the smoking process, which often involves different types of wood and smoking over low heat.
Sausages of all kinds, including smoked sausages, typically start with varying types of meat that is trimmed and ground down. Beef and pork are commonly used to make sausages, though poultry such as chicken and turkey can also be used and may allow for a final product with lower fat content. Commercial smoked sausages are available from a number of manufacturers; many butchers and delis make their own sausages for sale. These sausages can be made fairly easily at home, with the proper equipment to grind meat and then use it to fill casings.
The ground meat for smoked sausages is typically mixed with a variety of different seasonings, often including salt and pepper as well as garlic and onion powder. While not all sausages need to be cured, most people cure those that are to be used in smoking, because the environment in which they are smoked is ideal for the development of bacteria responsible for botulism. This is a very unpleasant form of food poisoning and the addition of curing agents can greatly diminish the risk of this illness. There is some controversy over the use of nitrites in curing, but they are typically fine in small amounts and sodium nitrate is often added to smoked sausages along with seasoning.
This seasoned filling is then used to fill casings for the smoked sausages, which can be made in a number of ways. The sausages are then allowed to dry out, to make the smoking process easier and more effective, which is often done by someone hanging them in a well-ventilated room. Once dried, the sausages can be smoked by placing them in a smoker, which is similar to a barbecue grill. Wood chips that have been soaked in water are heated to produce smoke, which then passes all around the sausages to give them aroma and flavor. Different types of wood can be used to make these smoked sausages, and the resulting taste often changes based on the wood used.