The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Making Venison Sausage–Or is it Pork Sausage with Venison?

April 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Posted in Recipes

You can make your own sausages at home

Take a look at these gorgeous sausages made at home from venison that was gifted to us by a neighbor whose family owns a farm in southern Virginia. With these sausages, I’ve finally used the last of what was probably 30 pounds of venison. We’ve almost eaten our way through one venison thigh turned into pastrami. Another leg is hanging in the back stairway, drying for prosciutto.

I made these sausages also from leg meat–part of the thigh and the calf. This area of he animal is pretty sinewy, which meant I had to clean my grinder a few times to remove all the stringy stuff so the meat would actually pass through the cutting blades. In all, I ran the meat through the grinder three times using two different guage cutting plates before stuffing the mix into casings.

Venison is notoriously lean. Fat must be added. In this case I was using a recipe from Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book, which calls for adding a combination of pork butt (shoulder), back fat and bacon to the venison to impart the required succulence. Finding fat back isn’t necessarily easy. The Ecofriendly meat stand I visit at the Sunday farmers market had only huge pieces on hand–far more than I could ever use. There was none at Whole Foods. So I substituted more pork butt for the fat back. I think the finished sausage had enough fat.

I loved the smell of my hands after handling all the sausage ingredients: red wine, brandy, black pepper, juniper berries, garlic, shallots, rosemary. That alone is worth the price of admission, although you should be warned that making sausages does require some time, especially the cleanup end where each piece of your grinder and sausage stuffer must be assiduously scrubbed to remove any trace of meat. A little bleach in your cleaning solution wouldn’t hurt.

An electric grinder definitely helps

That said, here’s the recipe:

Cut into 2-inch strips 1 1/2 pounds venison shoulder, 1 pound pork butt, 3/4 pound pork back fat (or substitute more pork butt), 1/2 pound slab bacon, rind removed. Mix with 3 tablespoons red wine, 2 tablespoons brandy, 4 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons minced juniper berries, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon minced shallots, 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary. Store, covered, in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

The next day, grind the mix through a 1/4-inch plate. You will probably want to do this more than once–perhaps use a large plate for the first pass, the smaller plate to finish. Knead the mix to blend all the ingredients thoroughly, then stuff into hog casings and tie into 6-inch links. (Typically the casing will need to be soaked for an hour or so in warm water to soften them.)

Dry the sausages uncovered in the fridge overnight before cooking. Aidells says they will keep for three days in the refrigerator, or two months in the freezer.

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  • Don

    We’ve made delicious (and healthy) venison sausage without a pork or pork fat. We added about 2 tbs of olive oil per pound of ground venison and used typical sausage seasoning blends. So far we’ve done traditional hot Italian, maple sugar and sage, and a Texas-style mix with powdered chilis and cumin. There’s no need for all that pork fat. Just be very careful not to overcook the sausage; it’ll get tough if you do. It requires a change of mind set to do that. After overcooking it a couple of times, we’ve finally gotten it into our heads that there’s no pork involved so all we need to do is take it just a shade beyond medium rare.