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Sausage Making 101 - Venison Snack Sticks
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and that’s what WildIndiana is doing in Sausage Making 101. We want to expose you to the culinary hobby of sausage making. It’s easier than you think. Today we'll tackle venison snack sticks.
To get started down this road, we recommend making summer sausage snack sticks using a kit by Hi-Mountain Seasoning. Why, you ask? Because the kits come with the casings, seasoning, cure, and detailed directions.
We recommend that you use a Lem, or similar, electric meat grinder with the accessory sausage stuffing tube.
Sure, you can grind the meat with an old-fashioned meat grinder, and you can stuff the sausage using a manual sausage stuffer, but we doubt it will take too many sausages to make you realize the superiority of using modern conveniences, like electricity.
To start, you will need one to three pounds of venison, ground to a fine cut. We also recommend blending ground beef into the mix at a two-to-one ratio of venison to beef. So, for three pounds of sausage, we recommend two pounds or ground venison and one pound of ground beef.
Use a stuffing nozzle to match the sausage being made.
Before getting started, get everything required set up for quick use. For safety sake, the meat must be kept in the temperature safe zone of 40 degrees F or below.
Get the sausage stuffer ready for use by placing the casing over the stuffing nozzle. If a meat grinder is used, remove the cutting blade and grinding plates. Replace them with the stuffing plate.
Pull a small portion of the casing off and tie it in a knot or use butcher string.
Mix the ground meats well in a large bowl using your hands or a meat mixer.
Snack sticks require a 1/2" nozzle.
Measure out the correct amount of spice blend and cure for the weight of meat being used and set aside.
Measure out ¼ cup of ice water per pound of meat being used.
Mix the spice, cure, and water in a small bowl.
Make a large, deep depression in the center of the meat and dump the water/seasoning slurry into it.
Work the seasoning slurry into the meat using a meat mixer or your hands. Don’t be shy and get after it. Mix it well for five minutes or until the blend starts getting sticky. (The cure mix has a binder in it.)
Immediately place the meat mixture into the sausage stuffer or meat grinder and start stuffing.
The casing slips tightly over the nozzle.
Work the casing to allow the meat to fill it completely, but without bursting. If the casing does burst, cut the casing, squeeze out enough of the meat to allow the casing to be closed and tied, and start again.
As the sausage is stuffed, carefully turn it into a large bowl. Once you have used all the meat, tie off the casing and place the sausage in the refrigerator overnight. Cover the sausage with plastic wrap or place it in a large bag to keep it from drying out.
There may be some meat left over in the stuffer or grinder. Place it in between two sheets of wax paper and roll to about ¼” thickness to make jerky. Save this with the sausage.
The meat will push the casing away from the nozzle. Hold it back just enough to fill the casing.
The next day, remove the sausage from the refrigerator and let stand for an hour so that reaches room temperature.
Place the sausage in a smoker or oven, set to 200 degrees F, for two hours or until the core temperature reaches 165 degrees. Some smokers and ovens vary in actual temperature, so some adjustment may be needed.
Do not over smoke, otherwise the sausage can become bitter.
When done, cut the sausage into snack-sized sticks and refrigerate.
Eat and enjoy. While this sounds involved and complicated, it is far easier than it seems. Do it a few times and you’ll be ready to experiment with your own spice blends and types of meat, but we’ll leave that for another time.
These snack sticks will disappear fast, so get'em while you can.