In round two of turning venison scrap from my father into something more edible, I made a dangerous choice – a sausage of great familiarity. Summer Sausage. It is easy to cook without context when the only question is “Does it taste good?” I guess easy is relative, because it seems easy in comparison to when you are cooking something familiar and add “Does it taste right?” to “Does it taste good?” Venison summer sausage is, when combined with Ritz crackers and cheese, the most popular pre-dinner, post-lunch food in Wisconsin. When given venison scrap, how could i have ignored the opportunity to stock the pre-dinner, post-lunch larder for the year, or more likely, the remainder of April?
I based the recipe on an earlier beef summer sausage I made. I also opted to keep the grind very coarse. This is somewhat in conflict with standard summer sausage, but I like the texture of the sausage better with a coarse grind despite liking the appearance better with the finer grind.
A finer grind gives the even and consistent red/white speckled sausage. The coarse grind gives a more irregular pattern, but keeps a more significant chew in the texture.
At every turn, I tried to keep the sausage traditional. Down to the fibrous casings. I typically prefer natural casings, but traditionally those casings are shunned for the synthetic casings.
With a short period for fermentation, there is a pleasant souring of the summer sausage. Once the casings have been soaked, stuffed, and set out to ferment, they dry overnight and then spend a little time over smoke. To maximize smoke time, I started the sausages over cold smoke. Cold smoking is not necessary, but if you take care to keep temps low in the beginning, the amount of smoke the sausages get before their temps reach 150 degrees is much higher.
After the sausages were dropped into a sink of ice and water to stop the cooking process, I chilled them. The next day, I sliced up the smaller sausage (the sausage I am keeping as a fabrication tax). The first thing I noticed was the texture was as I had hoped. There was no mushiness which can happen in the finely ground Wisconsin venison summer sausage.
The meaty and moderately gamey venison flavors were the most prevalent flavor with sweet smokiness. I smoked the sausages over chestnut hulls and corn cobs (mostly because I was cleaning out the freezer and they were there). The smoke coming from the corn cobs smelled amazing and I will save my summer cobs to smoke next fall. As I have noted in the past, I appreciate the gamier flavors of wild venison and really wanted to let those flavors come through.
The spices added subtle flavors, but these sausages were decidedly simple and I was happy for it. The contextless venison boudin from last week came with no measuring stick. A venison summer sausage comes with expectations and this sausage meets those and it is a relief more than anything.Venison Summer Sausage 36 ounces venison, ground with large die 12 ounces pork back fat, ground with large die 1/4 cup ramp kraut juice 23 grams kosher salt 30 grams nonfat dry milk powder 20 grams dextrose 1/2 tsp ground ginger 2 cloves garlic, grated 1 tablespoon chili flake 4 grams pink salt 3 grams black pepper, crushed 3 grams coriander seed, crushed 1 grams fennel seed, crushed 6 grams mustard seed, crushed
Step one: Combine all of the ingredients above in a cold mixing bowl and stir with a paddle attachment until a meatball-sized piece of meat sticks to your hand as it is suspended.
Step two: Stuff into fibrous casings which have been soaked in hot tap water for 30 minutes. Tie tightly and prick casings to remove air bubbles.
Step three: Hang in a warm room for 10-12 hours to ferment. Then store in the fridge until you smoke the sausages.
Step four: Start the sausage with cold smoke (as cold as possible) for 2 hours. Then increase heat until sausages reach 150 degrees internal temps. Shock in an ice bath.
Step five: Store in the fridge. Consume with cheese, crackers, and beer.