Cooking Wild With Wil: Venison Summer Sausage

AGFC Educator Wil Hafner is back in the kitchen and showing you how to make summer sausage. He will take you through the process step by step and you will have a delicious treat to serve family and friends.

Sausage 101 – Outline •  Getting Started

What will we need

o Meat/meats of choice

o Sharp knife o Grinder (if making from scratch)

o Sausage Stuffer

o Seasoning

o Casings

• Choosing your meat o 70/30 lean to fat is ideal for most sausages o If using pork butt, you will have close to that o For wild game, best to add pork fat. Beef fat has a higher melting point ( may not render out) and does not taste as good as pork fat. o Whatever you choose, make sure it is cold, almost semi-frozen, it will grind the best and not make a mushy sausage • Grinding o Cut your COLD meat into cubes, small enough to fit in the throat of your grinder o Make sure the throat, pan, knife, and plate are cold o Most sausages require a fine grind. Some prefer texture of coarse ground meat but does not bind well together. o Feed your meat into the grinder, avoid overstuffing and forcing the grinder to bog down o If you want, you can grind a second time to reduce particle size.

o Weigh your meat and select your seasoning

• Mixing o Most small batches can be mixed by hand

o Sausages like hotdogs require a small particle size and protein extraction that can not be reliably reached by hand mixing.

o Use cold water to help mix in the seasonings o Once the meat is mixed decided whether to use casings or package in bulk

• Cured sausages o Cured sausages such as salami, summer sausage, snack stix, or smoked links need a few extra ingredients

o Some kind of curing agent will be needed to ensure the product is safe to eat. Although theoretically cured meat should be shelf-stable it is still recommended to refrigerate after cooking.

o Sure Cure (pink curing salt) or Insta-cure are your best choices as a curing agent. o Cured meats will need to sit overnight before cooking to ensure the cure works unless you want to use a cure accelerator.

o To retain moisture and increase yield, a binder such as Suregel or carrot fiber can be added.

• Choosing your casing

o Natural casings are made from hog intestines and are generally used for brats and smoked sausage.

o They are tender to the bite and have the most flavor o Natural casings are packed in salt and require at least a 30-minute soak in warm water, followed by a flushing of the inside of the casing.

o Leftover casings must be frozen to prevent spoilage. ( beware of freezer burn, casing will dry out and rip the next time you use).

o Sheep casings are smaller in diameter and more delicate than hog casings. Sheep casings are used for link breakfast sausage

o Collagen Casings are made from the connective tissues from bones and marrow of processed animals.

o These casings are easier to work with and do not require soaking or refrigeration.

o Collagen casings provide an extra “snap” to each bite and also work well for brats, smoked sausages, snack sticks, and breakfast sausage links. o Can buy-in “fresh” for fresh sausages or “smoked” which are mahogany in color and are great for smoked sausages or snack sticks.

o Fibrous Casings are a durable synthetic material used for making summer sausage.

o This casing is not edible and should be soaked in warm water for an hour prior to stuffing.

• Storing your sausage o Most fresh sausages should be cooked or frozen within 3 days.

o For bulk sausage, 2mil polybags work great for storing for up to a year.

o For links, brats, or cured sausages, slightly freeze your product for 1 to 2 hours to “ firm them up”, then vacuum seal. These will be fresh for at least 2 years… but why wait that long? Basic Smoking schedule for links, summer sausage, or snack stix

o 1 hour at 130* no smoke

o 2 hours at 150* add smoke

o 2 hours at 160*

o Increase temperature to 180*, cook until internal temperature is 155* Remove from the smoker and soak for 20 minutes in an ice water bath to set the casing and to terminate the cooking process. Allow to reach room temperature before packaging. Great Resources for guidance and products s:


Feel free to contact me for any assistance or to share success stories. Wil Hafner 870-241-3373