Smoky venison breakfast sausage
We adapted this recipe several years ago from the most important work of literature of modern times, "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing" by Rytek Kutas.
The book has hundreds of recipes and we've made many of them. But this one stands head and shoulders above any we've had. Of course, we've tweaked it a bit, making it a bit spicier than Kutas called for in his original recipe.
Kutas also advises that it's better to omit the sage if you're going to freeze the meat, but we freeze these sausage every year and have never encountered a problem.
The result is a very, very flavorful breakfast sausage that tastes great with just about everything and screams of autumn on a chilly tailgate morning. We often serve them as a little autumn appetizer with our homemade mason jar cranberry sauce.
Like all our sausages and cured meats, it's incredibly aromatic – even outdoors at a tailgate. We want to capture this aroma and sell it as cologne.
We'll call it "Autumn Smoke" or maybe "Yum, Bambi." Makes 10 pounds of sausage (about 50 to 60 breakfast links).
- 8 pounds of chilled venison (we use chunks of stew meat)
- 2 pounds of pork or beef fat (we use beef fat, which is thicker and richer and works better with a leaner meat like venison; the butcher shop at your local market will probably give you the beef fat for free)
- 2 cups water
- 5 Tablespoons of salt
- 4 teaspoons sage
- 4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoon of ground white pepper
- 1½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 Tablespoons powdered dextrose
- 2 teaspoons Insta Cure No. 1
Make sure meat is free of clots, bone and skin. This should not be a problem if you get your meat from a reputable venison farm or specialty meat shop. It may be a problem when it's left to you and Uncle Cooter to trim this year's haul.
Grind the meat chunks in a sausage grinder and into a large stainless steel or disposable aluminum pan. Add the dry ingredients and about half the water and mix well with clean, bare hands. Run through the grinder once more. If the meat seems a little tough to get through the grinder (the dextrose will make it very thick) add the rest of the water at this point. When all the meat has gone through the grinder a second time, add any remaining water and again mix well with bare hands.
Using a sausage stuffer, stuff all the meat into cleaned and soaked breakfast-sized (22 to 26 millimeter) sheep or lamb casings, tying off individual sausages as you go at about four inches long. (Stuffing could take many hours for a rookie sausage maker using a small sausage stuffer.)
After stuffing, hang all the sausage in a cool, dry place for at least two hours. Then place all the sausage in a smoker. Kutas recommends putting the sausage in a 110 degree smoker to apply a heavy smudge of smoke, while gradually raising the smoker temperature to 160 degrees and an internal temperature in the sausage of 152 degrees.
We just toss them in the smoker – even a standard, backyard smoker – for about four hours until they sweat a bit and develop a dark, smoky color to our liking. Wrap six to 20 links in freezer paper (date the outside) and defrost in the refrigerator the day before you plan to cook them. Simply fry them up in a skillet on gameday and serve with breakfast.