Smoked Summer Sausage
We’ve been working our way through the meat from last year and have been playing with different kits. We’ve tried 4 flavors of jerky, pepperoni snack sticks, bratwurst and now summer sausage. All have come out awesome. We’ve been using Hi-Mountain and Hi-Country kits that have all the casings and seasoning in them. The directions for both companies suck, so be prepared to pull up a search or two. I’m almost ready to contact the companies and offer to write them new directions they are so bad. As bad as the instructions are, the finished products are amazing. I’ve had to freeze most of it to stop myself from eating it all.
The kits recommend freezing meat for 6 months to get rid of any kind of ick that it might have. I guess the FDA says so, but generally you can tell if something is wrong with the meat. We do it, mostly because we can’t process a whole animal at once and because long winters mean lots of time to work on stuff like this. The kits all specify what ratio game meat to pig fat to use, for this one it was was Eastman Sports (whose directions also suck…) and needed 12lbs game meat, in this case, Mule Deer and 3lbs pig fat. About a 70/30 mix.
First, cube up your meat and fat, cutting out most of the tendons and linkage so you don’t gum up your grinder. We run it through a coarse grind first, then add the cure and seasoning, then run it through a medium grind as we stuff. The kits usually have casings. Make sure you look at the packaging before starting, a lot of kits require overnight soaking of the casings. In this case, just 30 minutes for the non-edible fibrous (synthetic non-death smelling) casings. Stuffing is ideal with 2 people, one to feed the grinder and one to regulate the stuffing. You want it full, but not over-stuffed.
Something the kit didn’t specify was to let the links cure overnight in the fridge before smoking. You also want to let the links come up to room temperature for 2 hours before smoking. I don’t have a smoker yet, so I did my smoking in the oven. It’s messy, but it works. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and put the sausages on racked cookie sheets. If you’re willing to clean up a God-awful mess, just put them on the oven racks. My links were longer than my cookie sheets, so the ends hung off a little.
It actually worked out OK. Some grease dripped onto the bottom of the stove, so the links ended up being smoked for real as it burned off. The sausage takes about 2 hours at 200 degrees with the oven door cracked. The meat should reach 156 degrees F internally and turn pink from the cure. Let it cool and store in the freezer or refrigerator. Serve sliced with cheese and crackers, in sandwiches, on pizza or by itself. It’s just plain good. Don’t eat the casing. It’s not for eating. M-Kay?