I am not a huge fan of the cheap processed bologna you buy in a pack at the grocery store. I do occasionally break down and eat a cheap bologna sandwich, but the homemade, original version of this meat is a meal I will never turn down.
In this article, I will walk you through the steps explaining how you can make a simple batch of ring bologna. Once you have learned how to make ring bologna at home and have already made your first batch, you can try and change up the meat blend, grind, smoke, and spices to find the perfect product for your taste.
Before I jump into the process of making this sausage at home, I first would like to explain to you what is ring bologna, so you understand better where does it come from and from what is it made of.
What is Ring Bologna?
Ring bologna is derived from the Italian version, mortadella (Source). The primary difference is that most bologna is finely ground, while mortadella has visible chunks of fat and spices inside the sausage.
There are a lot of variations and they are made all across Europe with the main differences being the grind and spices used.
The European products are a spicy, smoky cased sausage. Much pride is taken as these tubes of smoked meat are painstakingly made by hand.
The finished product is a delicious meat I will eat every chance I get. Whether served cold or seared in a pan, traditional ring bologna is quite tasty.
- Also Read: How to Make Capicola at Home
Required Supplies and Ingredients
In order to make this recipe at home, you need to buy/collect a few supplies and ingredients.
Here it is a detailed list of the required supplies and ingredients:
After you collect all the required ingredients and supplies, it is time to start with the preparation process of the meat.
How to Prepare the Meat for Ring Bologna
Step 1) Get the meat on the cutting table and cut it all into two inch cubes or small enough to fit inside your grinder.
Step 2) After you have finish cutting the meat, it is recommended to partially freeze it, so it holds together better in the grinder.
Step 3) Chill all parts of the grinder in the freezer. Cold metal will operate much better when you start grinding.
Step 4) Grind all of the meat using the 1/8 inch plate. Mix the meat thoroughly as it comes out of the grinder so you have an even distribution of beef and pork.
Step 5) Now, combine the flour, sugar, saltpeter, coriander, black pepper and garlic powder to 12 the ounces of ice water. Stir it all up until the mixture is completely blended.
Step 6) Now, take the spice mixture you did on the previous step and with your hands, start to mix it into the meat. Continue mixing it until the spices are evenly distributed.
Step 7) Take the mixed meat and let it chill in the refrigerator until is cold all the way through.
Step 8) After the meat is all cold, regrind it again using the same 1/8 inch plate that you used before.
How to Stuff the Ring Bologna Sausage
After you finished preparing the meat like I mentioned in the upper steps, it is time to stuff the sausage.
Step 1) Assemble your sausage stuffer using one of the tubes with a larger diameter.
Step 2) Tie one end of the casing and fish the other end over the tube. Continue feeding the casing onto the stuffer until the tied end reaches the tip of the stuffer.
Step 3) Stuff the casings until they form tight, 18 inch sausages. Then cut and tie the ends
How to Cook the Ring Bologna Sausage
After you have prepared the sausage, it is time to cook it.
Actually, the cooking step includes a two part process, where you first have to smoke the sausage and then you have to boil it.
How to Smoke the Sausage
Step 1) Put the bologna back in the refrigerator and light the smoker.
Set it up for indirect heat and use soaked maple chips along with your charcoal. You just want to accomplish a light smoky flavor. Let the smoker get to the recommended temperature of 225°F.
Step 2) After the temperature gauge of your smoker reads 225°F, get your meat out of the refrigerator and place it on the smoker and try to maintain this temperature.
Just a handful of wood chips should be fine to start, but be ready to add another handful if you smoke the meat for more than one hour.
Step 3) Plan to smoke the meat for roughly an hour, but check the internal temperature periodically. Continue cooking the meat until you reach an internal temperature of 155°F.
How to Boil the Sausage
After you finished smoking the sausage, now it is time to start the second step of the cooking process; boiling your ring bologna sausage.
Step 1) To finish the whole cooking process, you need to boil the meat to reach the desired final temperature.
Put the meat in a stock pot and cover with water. Bring it to a boil.
Step 2) Keep cook/boiling it until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 180°F.
Step 3) Now that the internal temperature is at the desired levels, remove the sausages from the water and hang them over wooden dowels to dry.
It is recommended to leave them hanging until the casings are dry to the touch.
Step 4) Refrigerate it for as long as two weeks, or freeze it for longer storage.
Step 5) Slice it and Enjoy!
I showed you exactly how I make my own ring bologna for my family but you can try different combination based on your preferences.
There are several ways that you can customize this recipe to better fit your preferences.
There are dozens of different spice combinations that can be used to create a completely different flavor profile. Bologna can be mild and rich, or it can be spicy and bold. You can use mustard to make it tangy or peppercorns to give it more bite.
In addition to the spices, you can also modify other elements of the recipe to try out different flavors. The ratios of meats can be adjusted as long as there is plenty of fat content. You can also experiment with meats other than pork and beef. However, be cautious about your final internal temperature as other meats are more likely to carry bacteria.
You can also try out different types of wood chips to change the flavor and strength of your smoke. You can also reduce the temperature of your smoker to allow the meat to absorb more smoke flavor. By lowering the cooking temperature, you will have to cook the meat much longer. Focus on reaching the ideal internal temperature, and the meat should still be cooked properly.
No matter how you customize the recipe, knowing how to make ring bologna at home will give you a superior finished product versus what you would buy at the grocery store.
In fact, most people would probably not even recognize it as bologna at all. The flavor and texture are so much better when you use high quality ingredients. Your homemade ring bologna will be a far cry from the yellow package in the lunch meat aisle or even the product you can get from the deli counter.