Saturday, December 3, 2011

DIY Venison Italian Sausage

You can actually use this technique and recipe to make Italian sausage out of beef or pork also, I just think it tastes best with venison.

Making sausage sounds scary and intimidating. I've always thought there was some secret formula that only butchers knew and that it was almost impossible to do at home. Nothing could be further from the truth. Making sausage is time consuming, but no harder than any other recipe.

Step 1: Prepare the meat. 

You will need three pounds of freshly ground venison and two pounds of freshly ground fatty pork.  I have written a tutorial for grinding meat. you can find it here.

Pork?!? Yes, fatty pork. Sausage needs fat to make it stick together and be yummy. Venison is way to lean and venison fat can sometimes have a bad flavor. So, you need to add fat. The best way to do this is fatty pork, specifically bacon. You can use pork neck meat or other various pork areas, but nothing beats bacon. Just grind it up like you would any other meat.

Yummy, fatty, fat!
The ratio of fatty meat to venison should be 60% venison 40% fatty. I guess you could use really fatty beef instead of pork, but seriously.... yuck!

Step 2: Add the spices.

This is where your sausage becomes yours. Feel free to experiment.

This is what I use with spectacular results. I'm talking better-than-from-the-butcher results. Best-thing-I've-ever-tasted results! I'm-going-to-go-kill-another-deer-just-so-I-can-make-more results!

  • 2 Tablespoons of salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground coriander

Put everything, including both meats, in a mixing bowl and mix well. This will take a long time if you do it by hand. I highly recommend using a stand mixer on the low setting. Don't have a stand mixer? I highly recommend buying one. It will change your life.

Step 3: Chill the meat.

Put the meat in the fridge or freezer until it is compleatly cool, almost frozen. This is an important step. The fat in warm meat will smear, causing an undesirable texture.

Step 4: Prepare your meat again. 

Run everything through your grinder once more with its finest blade. This helps make sure everything is mixed well.

If you are making bulk sausage then you are done! Bag it in one pound portions and freeze. It does not keep long in the fridge.

If you are planning on stuffing the sausage then proceed to:

Step 5: Stuff it!

Put nicely ground sausage in fridge to stay cold.

Decide on whether you are going to use natural or collagen casings. Choose natural casings. Sure, they are made out of intestines, but they make much better sausage.

Can't find casings? Ask your butcher or look for them at Bass Pro, Cabela's, Etc... You can also order them from the links at the end of this post.

If you have to use collagen casings, just load them onto the nozzle of your sausage stuffer.

If you made the right choice and are using natural casings, soak them in a bowl of water for an hour. Then carefully run water through them. This makes them stretchy and cleans them. Granted, they are most likely very clean to begin with, but lets be honest, they used to store pig or sheep poop in them. I just want them to be as clean as possible.

When you are finished, load a four foot section of natural casings onto the nozzle of your sausage stuffer.

A word about sausage stuffers:

I only have a sausage stuffer attachment to my meat grinder. This works OK, but is very slow. I highly recommend a stand alone sausage stuffer. It is on my must-buy-soon list.

Start pushing the sausage through the stuffer. An air bubble will form. You do not want this at the end of your sausage, so do not tie the end off until the sausage actually starts to fill the casing. Keep pushing the sausage through until you have an acceptable size link. At this point I pull off some extra casing, cut it off and tie a knot. Starting over at every link. This is not the most efficient way, but I find it easier than twisting links.

That's all there is to it! Fry some up before you freeze it. Eat it with crackers and sharp cheddar cheese. My tummy is growling just thinking about it!

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