Friends brought over some yummy ground venison mixed with bacon and cheddar. Brushed the veggies with some evoo and seasoned with Montreal. Also did some prepackaged meatballs and hot dogs. Venison came out a bit salty but that was due to Montreal being added. I'm sure it would have been fine unseasoned. Too bad because the meat was moist and cooked wonderfully. Hope your Sunday was spent with friends or loved ones as well!
My coworker harvested a nice buck on opening day, and shared some venison. I had been making jerky out of most of the meat, but this time I tried Venison Sticks. The collagen casings were more difficult to link than natural casings. These turned out more the texture of a summer sausage than the deer sticks I have gotten from other hunters. Still tasty, but not what I was expecting. I will have to look for some other recipes.
Deer season is upon us once again and the bounty has been plentiful! I normally covet the backstrap and only cook a small amount at a time, but this year we have plenty and the season has just begun. So I took a backstap, marinaded in milk for 24 hours (to get the gaminess out). Rinsed and seasoned with Salt, Pepper and Garlic and wrapped in thin bacon - HOWEVER - next time - I will precook the bacon a little beforehand - I wanted it more crispy. I seasoned the bacon with Tony C's and a bit of Paprika and tossed it on my KJ at 275 indirect. (might try direct next time) USED a PROBE - cooked till 128 and glazed with a soy/brown sugar/garlic/ginger/sesame oil/honey/green onion/vinegar mixture and cooked till 135, foiled and rested. - Honestly I would have liked it a little more done - but was afraid to overcook it. It was pretty amazing.
Happy hunting friends.
Venison Snack Sticks
My brother who does a lot of hunting was coming for a visit. The last time I was at his house I brought back a 5.75 lb package of frozen deer meat that was already cubed for stew. My brother had been talking about snack sticks for some time so I decided to surprise him by making some. My able assistant (son) added his expertise to the project. We have done so much sausage together that as a team we can really crank it out. Our joke about sausage making it that it is really an excuse to see how many time you can wash your hands.
The recipe I started from is found in the Eldon Cutlip book “The Sausage and Jerky Maker’s Bible”. I highly recommend this book. It should be in your library. It is from page 263 – a recipe entitled Slimm Jimmy Sticks. It can also be found on line at this link: https://www.dakotahsausagestuffer.com/Articles.asp?ID=371
I modified the recipe to reduce the black pepper and added cayenne pepper. I also reduced the salt, added some MSG to make up for the reduced salt and added garlic powder as a flavor element.
To add fat to the deer meat, I used a mix of pork belly (@ 50% fat ratio) and pork fat (100% fat) adjusted so that the final fat ratio was around 17%.
Here is the recipe for the 8 pound (before smoking) total batch of sausage. I also provide percentages for easy scaling.
Pork Back Fat
Total Meat Block
Total Fat %
(pork belly @50% fat content
pork fat @ 100%)
Pickling Salt (Mortons Brand)
Coarse Grind Black Pepper
Ground Cayenne Pepper
Ground Celery Seed
Dry Mustard Powder
Corn Syrup Solids
Non Fat Dry Milk
Prague Powder (Cure #1)
I smoked/cooked this in my home made electric oven converted to a smoker controlled by a home-brewed PID based temperature controller using an A-MAZE-N-Products sawdust smoke maze. The smoke flavor was “Pit Master’s Blend” which is hickory, cherry and maple. I find that at the low temperatures sawdust is preferred over pellets which will not consistently stay lit.
The sticks were started out 130 degrees temp with no smoke for an hour to dry the sausage. Then the temp was increased to 140 and I began the smoke. A quarter size sheet pan of initially boiling water was placed on a lower rack above the heat element to add moisture during the smoke process. This helps to reduce hardening of the casing and improved heat transfer into the meat.
The cook temperature is increased over time 170 degrees (no more to avoid fat melting) and the sticks were cooked to 152 degrees internal temperature. If you hit an excessive stall – remove from the smoker and poach in 165 degree water until internal temperature is reached – this will only take a few minutes poaching. I did poach these near the end. I find it results in a moister final product.
You can also remove sooner, say at 140 degrees internal after they have gotten good smoke and poach. It can take 8 hours or more in the smoker to final result – poaching significantly reduces that time.
After smoking or poaching, I rest the sticks on cooling racks (called blooming) with a fan blowing over them until at room temperature.
Eat some (well a bunch!) now - actually sample some now and age for a day or overnight in the fridge - it really matures the overall flavor profile. Store in fridge and /or vacuum pack the some and freeze. I cut the lengths before smoking at 8 inches to fit my vacuum bags.
Here are some photos during the process:
The Ground Meats & Fat
The Spice Blend
The Non Fat Dry Milk Binder
The "Pink Salt" (this is enough to last a life time! - Use in precise amounts per the recipe - 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs of meat!)
Mixing the Meat Batter (my son is really good at this)
The Stack Sticks After Stuffing - This Was About 40 Feet of Sausage
A Close-Up View of the 19MM Size
After Overnight Fridge Aging/Curing - Stick Cut to 8 in Length Using Scissors (to fit the vacuum bags) - Ready for the Smoker
After Smoking Poaching and Blooming - A Stack of Snacks
This was an excellent result. Good flavor, not fatty, nice bite and texture. The extended family said that I just ruined them from ever buying any commercial snack sticks again. To me that is a compliment I will gladly accept.
You really need to try this. This recipe will also work using beef.
Christmas Break – 85 lbs Venison Ground; Four Kinds of Deer Sausages and a Pork Boudin Bonus
I have not posted much lately as I have had back to back work related travel and then needed to deal with some family matters also out of town. As part of the out of town travel, I spent some time in New Orleans area with my brother and he asked me to bring my meat grinder and I decided that my basic sausage making equipment would also go along for the ride. My LEM Big Bite #12 grinder was perfect for the upcoming task.
Let's Start With A Bit of Venison to Grind
Why … well he had 85 pounds of trimmed and cubed venison in the freezer that he wanted ground. We partially thawed the meat in a large ice chest for several days to a workable level of thaw/frozen state. We did a single grind on a 3/16 plate with 40 lbs. Then double ground the remaining 45 pounds. Of the double grind we further ground 5 lbs through a 1/8 plate as my brother wanted some very fine grind to use as an element in tacos. All the ground meat was stuffed into commercial bulk plastic meat bags at 1.5 lbs per chub (about 47 of them) and tape sealed. I found we could get roughly 1.5 lbs in the nominal one pound meat bag chub. It was a good thing I had bulk pork/beef meat storage bags on hand or we would have killed the vacuum sealer machine.
A Sampler of Some of the 85 lbs Frozen Trimmed Louisiana Harvested Venison (It may look it in the photo but it was not freezer burned)
A Growing Mountain of Ground Deer Meat
A Few Chubs Already in the Chest Freezer
To assist the filling of the chubs I used a piece of 2 in PVC pipe and a plunger made from 1 1/4 PVC in with a cap – no need to glue the cap. Load the 2 in pipe with meat and tamp it. Slide the plastic bulk meat bag over the end, push the meat into the bag. Bingo! Then compress the bag, top off with an appropriate ball of extra meat to the final fill level, compress again, twist and seal. Simple and quite effective. Having a couple of the 2 in lengths handy works well as the person filling the “magazines” can always have one ready for the bag handling person. An 11 inch length of the 2 inch is about 1 pound. You could make a longer length (say 17 inches) to size for 1.5 lbs but it might get awkward to use.
Chub Loader & Tape Sealer
Onward to Sausage Making Time
Now in the process of grinding the venison, the subject of sausage came up. Who would have guessed that? So about 18 lbs total of the single/double grind was set aside for sausage.
With that we made four different venison based sausages adding in an appropriate amount of bacon. The bacon in the mix when ground adds the fat element and some pork meat and is easy to find and work with. We used roughly 4.5 lbs deer to 2 lbs bacon. Next time I would probably use 1 lb ground pork butt and 1 lb bacon to add some extra pork meat in the mix.
We made in about equal batches of 6.5 pounds each:
#1- Breakfast Sausage (bulk packed in 1 lb chubs) - The test fry.
#2- Roasted Garlic, Mushroom & Sweet Onion (cased)
#3- Hot Italian (cased)
#4-Sweet Italian (cased)
It was a bit of a marathon event spread over a couple of days with one day for grinding and the next for the sausage particularly since I did not bring my 5 lb hand crank sausage stuffer machine and only had with me my home made 1 lb at a time caulking gun stuffer - which did an admiral job (this: http://www.kamadoguru.com/topic/19891-the-homemade-smokehowze-caulking-gun-sausage-stuffer/#entry260655.) I did not know we were going to be making this much sausage and I was short on room in the truck. We did do one mod to the stuffer which was to add a simple spring loaded air bleed valve on the end of the point where the stuffing tube attaches.This permits one bleed out trapped air when inserting a the filled tubes of meat in the gun.
Air Bleed Valve Modification
O Ring Seal
But wait there is more
And then the rains came, so the following weekend another even more intense multi-day marathon ensued as we made two separate 22 plus pound versions of pork based Louisiana boudin for a total of 45 lbs of links and some bulk also. Another marathon of sausage making especially because of the preparation time involved for each batch with the 18 lbs of the mixed meats to be cooked, the massive amounts green onions, parsley, and sweet bell peppers plus garlic to be hand chopped, and the 34 cooked cups of rice to fix. But since it was storming the whole time and no good reason to be outside, why not?
Boudin Sausage - Ready to Poach - (we used the crawfish boiling pot with the basket insert)
Boudin After Poaching and Cooling - Heated Gently in the Microwave and Ready to Eat
And I know you are thinking it... yes, an ice chest full of the ground venison and a sampling of the sausages went home with me.
I feel a pot of chili in the making for New Years and maybe a sausage appetizer plate......Yummmm.