Venison Summer Sausage

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.

Originally posted 2014-04-10 23:21:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Lamb & Anchovy Sausage

There are perfect pairings – peas & carrots, chilis & mint, peanut butter & jelly, ham & everything – and then there is the combination of lamb and anchovy.  There is no Smuckers jar with alternating stripes of lamb and anchovy, but rest assured, there should be. The salty depth of the anchovy combined with the gaminess of the lamb work together to create an amazingly forward and deep savoriness (see lamb neck, as an example). When I was looking for a new sausage pairing, I saw a deli of salt-cured anchovies sitting next to a plate of lamb leg and it made me think “Why is there no standard lamb-anchovy sausage?”

As I was grinding the lamb, I looked down at the bowl where the anchovies were soaking and tossed the filets into the meat grinder. To add fat to the lamb leg and anchovy, I found some lamb bacon in the back of the freezer that would keep this sausage pork-free while increasing the fat content. In a pinch, bacon would work and, if back fat or pork belly are used, toss in a little more salt, but only a little. Then for balance, I added mint.

When the sausages were encased, I roasted them in the oven. The aroma from the sausages created quite a stir in our house (I did not expect the girls, ages 3 and 4, to be interested, but the 3 year old ate the gamey/funky sausage with glee). The flavors held true to the aroma as the sausages were exceedingly savory. The lamb and anchovy in tandem combine to be an absolute powerhouse. The mint adds a touch of brightness.

As I looked at my plate, the shredded carrot hash combined with the peas directly next to the lamb & anchovy sausage, it sparked the idea of food that goes so well together. Two mixed on a plate and, directly next to them, two more commingled inside a hog casing.

Lamb & Anchovy Sausage

1 pound lamb, shoulder or leg, ground
4 ounces lamb bacon, ground
4 filets from salt cured anchovies, ground
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons mint, minced
8 grams salt
Pinch of black pepper

Step one: Combine all ingredients and bind using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, or if looking for adventure, by hand.

Step two: Stuff into sausage casings.

Step three: Roast or grill and consume

Originally posted 2013-12-19 00:05:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Chestnut and Concord Raisin Salami

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Growing up, we always had a garden and, alongside the garden, we also had an enormous mass of concord grape vines. When we were there in early October, there were pounds and pounds of concords bending the vine, so how could I resist bringing home a bunch? One of my first thoughts was making raisins with the concords, but the problem I found was the enormous number of seeds.

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After trying to manage the concord raisins by simply spitting the seeds (delicious but tedious), I took a step back and thought of what to do with these things. First, they were delicious – far more complex than regular concord grapes and sweeter than regular raisins. Second, they were dried – in my mind that would figure into how I used them. Finally, to get the seeds out, I would likely need to destroy the beauty of the raisins.

The last two thoughts took me directly to a dry cured sausage. Thoughts of classic fall flavors led to the addition of roasted chestnuts to the sausages. Chestnuts are one of those things you hear of in songs, but rarely in non-song life. Once you taste a good batch of chestnuts, you understand how they have taken such lofty song status. I find them to be a great pair with Midwestern, sweet fall grapes.

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With that thought, into the oven went the chestnuts. After peeling the roasted chestnuts, they were chopped and cooled. Once the chestnuts were cooled, they were added with the seeded concord grape raisins to ground pork along with baking spices. After binding the pork, raisins and chestnuts, I stuffed them into hog casings.

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For a day, the sausages waiting at room temp to ferment and then they went into the smoker. Given the add-ins discussed above, two obvious fuels for smoking were chestnut hulls and dried concord vines. After a few hours of cold smoke, these were hung up for a few weeks until they lost 30% of the hanging weight.

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The raisiny sweetness and the smoke are the most prominent flavors of this sausage. Initially I was worried about the chestnuts going rancid during the curing process (I was reassured by Travis Grimes and Rob Levitt), but they held up well. They feature less prominently flavor-wise, but their mellow sweetness comes through in the finish.

Chestnut and Concord Raisin Salami

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/4 cup concord grape raisins, seeded
9 chestnuts, roasted and chopped
14 grams salt
5 grams dextrose
3 grams curing salt #2
2 grams granulated garlic
2 allspice berries
2 coriander seeds
2 cloves
2 fennel seeds
A few rasps of nutmeg
1 tablespoon ramp kraut juice (to start fermentation)

Step one: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to bind.

Step two: Stuff into hog casings, making sure no air remains in casings.

Step three: Leave at room temp to ferment for 24 hours the cold smoke for 24 hours.

Step four: Hang at 55-60 degrees to dry for 3-4 weeks until 30% weight is lost through evaporation.

Originally posted 2013-11-05 00:39:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Ham Shank Terrine

Life has been busier than normal and the time I spend in the kitchen, one of my favorite ways to unwind, has been inconsistent. In an effort to simplify and refocus my kitchen hobby, I went back to an ingredient, ham, and a preparation, terrine, I feel both comfortable with and inspired by.

I found ham shanks at an old German butcher shop near my parents home in Wisconsin. While not quite an off-cut, it is not prime real estate in a butcher case with smoked sausages and thick steaks and chops. I asked for whatever they had left and received 3 smoky and richly colored shanks wrapped in paper. When I picked them up, I didn’t have a good use for them, but we prepared for a party, I found a large collagen casing. I had never used a casing to stuff a terrine, but I thought, if I could make it work, a terrine encased in smooth casing would make a clean presentation.

Figuring that keeping things as simple as possible would make up for my relative absence from the kitchen, I kept the ingredients to a minimum and made sure to supplement the shanks with terrine insurance, pork trotters. After boiling the shanks for around three hours. I pulled the pink meat from the shank bones and as much of the trotter goo from the hooves. Once the meat was pulled, the gelatinous stock from boiling the shanks and trotters reduced and was added with a few heaping scoops of dijon to the still steaming pork. I whipped the pork until it was shredded and sticky with stock.

Then by hand, I stuffed the ham into the casing, tied it off and chilled it between sheet pans overnight. The next day, the terrine had clearly set. Later in the day, I removed the casing and sliced a bunch to serve. It had set very well without being overly gelatinous. The terrine had a beautiful cross section with the deep red of the outer most smoked shank, the pink of the remaining shank and the milky white trotters. Visusally, it was where I wanted it to be. The flavors were straight smoked ham. Simple and smokey with just a touch of sweetness.

Sometimes “straight forward” is not a desired outcome. This time, it was just what I needed. This ham shank terrine had just enough adventure to be exciting. Projects like this pull me back into the kitchen and hopefully gets me back into the habit.

Ham Shank Terrine

2 ham shanks (about 3-4 lbs. in total)
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 pork trotters, split
375 mL white wine
Water
Salt
2 tablespoons dijon mustard

Step one: Add shanks, onion, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns, trotters, and wine, then add water to reach the top of the shanks. Add two large pinches of salt.

Step two: Boil for 3 hours. Remove shanks and trotters. Strain liquid and begin reducing it.  Soak collagen casing in warm water.

Step three: Pick meat from trotters and shanks and add it to a mixing bowl with dijon mustard. Whip with a paddle attachment and begin to add reduced stock until it will take no more. Taste and reseason, if needed. Keep in mind, ham is salty.

Step four: Begin stuffing, by hand, the ham into the casing. Keep tamping down the ham and squeezing out air bubbles. Once you have added all of the ham (should be about 2′ of tube meat in a large summer sausage casing), tie off the tube and then tie it off again.

Step five: Press terrine between two sheet pans with a little weigh on top in your fridge overnight.

Step six: Remove casing and slice about a centimeter thin.

Note, you can easily do this in a loaf pan or with plastic wrap in a torchon shape.

Huitlacoche & Smoked Corn Pate

We moved out of the city almost a year and a half ago. It seems like ages ago, but really has not been. However, what we found in the burbs from a dining perspective can be described most nicely as “limited”. Coming from Chicago, where we could stumble down the street for any number of great things to eat and having dozens of great places to deliver food to us, it was a shock. Since moving, we’ve adjusted. We have bought a second car. My garden has grown exponentially. But, some adjustments will never be made. We usually travel into the city to eat out and go in to do so as frequently as we went out when we lived in the city.

There are so few options near us that a place serving real quesadillas with handmade tortillas four miles from our house qualifies as destination dining for me.  The quesadillas are hidden on the last page of the menu and caught my eye when I saw nopales, huitlacoche, flor de calabasa, and chorizo. I was concerned, given what I have seen in the area, these would be ortega flour tortillas and shredded cheez. Since discovering the deliciousness of the huitlacoche and nopales quesadillas, I have adopted a more regular weekend lunch pattern of grabbing lunch while out (like a normal person).

The quesadilla

When I saw in the nearby bodega, a jar of huitlacoche, I picked it up. I had a half dozen ears worth of corn smoked over corn cobs (meta) to go along with the huitlacoche. When I opened the can, I was surprised by how ugly the contents were. Black sludge with large kernels, corn silk and everything. Knowing this was corn smut, mold and fungus, I was ready. After all, I had the real thing in the kitchen last summer from a local farmer. That was a different animal. Even so, I wanted to embrace the horrifying appearance and make something where I saw the ugliness. I didn’t want to hide it in a casing or puree it into a sauce, so I made a pate.  Cross sections of black-hued pork with flecks of fungus throughout.

As ugly as it was, there was a deep richness to the pate coupled by a really unique savory quality with the combination of the smoked sweet corn, the pork and the huitlacoche. The corn brings a smokey flavor, but also a bit of color among the muddy, ugly pate.

Huitlacoche & Smoked Corn Pate

750 g fatty ground pork, I ground a fatty pork shoulder
150 g smoked corn
250 g huitlacoche
20 g kosher salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 serrano chile, roughly chopped

Panade

10 grams all-purpose flour
1 large egg
70 milliliters heavy cream

Step one: Assemble your gear and cut your pork shoulder into one inch cubes, run it through your meat grinder using the fine disc. Refrigerate.

Step two: Add corn, huitlacoche, salt, cilantro, garlic and chile

Step three: Assemble the panade and combine with the forcemeat. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, mix the forcemeat/panade until it is sticky.

Step four: Line the inside of your terrine with plastic wrap. Form the mixture into a loaf and place it inside the terrine. Fold the pastic wrap over the loaf, cover, and place terrine into a high sided roasting pan. Fill the pan with water until in reaches 2/3’s of the way up the terrine. Place in a preheated 300 degree oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Step five: Remove terrine from oven and place a two pound weight on the pate to weigh it down until it cools to room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight.

Step six: Slice the Pâté about a centimeter thin and serve with salsa and corn tortilla.

Duck and Black Trumpet Salumi

Duck is delicious. It has a rich and complex flavor. However, I have made duck sausages multiple times and never once liked them. Every time, the classic flavors I paired with them taste too sweet – maybe they are classics because their sweetness balance the richness of the duck, but either way, they are not suitable as sausage flavors. When I happened upon a stewing duck at a farmer’s market, I grabbed it and stuffed in the freezer.

Here’s the thing. I don’t like stewed duck. However, the sound of how these ducks were raised, running free and eating bugs and what not, so I could not pass it up. After a month, I thawed the bird and de-boned it and went to making a sausage that does not repulse me. Working hard to fill the complements with savoriness, I grabbed a bag of dried black trumpet mushrooms. Then I grabbed a handful of szechuan peppercorns, some lard, a few spoonfuls of shoyu and a bunch of the duck skin. With what I grabbed, I understood this was feeling a bit more like a dried sausage.

After grinding, binding, stuffing and fermenting, I dried the sausages over a cool few weeks this fall and pulled them after they lost 30% of their hanging weight. The fermenting period brought out the deep red of the duck and hanging to dry did nothing to dull it. The dried black trumpet mushroom had softened but provided a nice color contrast to the deep red.

The flavor was funkier than I expected, but definitely not sweet. The deep, savory flavors in the mushrooms along with the funkiness of the slightly fermented duck were the most forward flavors with the distinctive szechuan peppercorn flavor strong in the finish. There was no mouth numbing qualities typically associated with szechuan peppercorns (not knowing the science, the aging process may cause a tingly depreciation). The best part is I broke through a couple massive failures and made a duck sausage I like.

Duck and Black Trumpet Salumi

365 g duck flesh
50 g duck skin
40 g lardo (bacon or back fat will do)
10 g salt
10 g shoyu
5 g dried black trumpet mushrooms, crushed
3 g szechuan peppercorns, ground
1 clove garlic, grated
1 g Bactoferm
1/4 c Water

Step one: Put duck flesh and fat along with bacon in freezer for an hour and then grind using a fine grind die.

Step two: Add salt, shoyu, crushed dried mushrooms, peppercorns and garlic. Whip with a paddle attachment.

Step three: Dissolve bactoferm in water and add to mixture. Continue to whip with paddle attachment until bound.

Step four: Stuff into casings, poke with needle to eliminate air pockets and leave at 75-80 degrees F to ferment overnight.

Step five: Weigh and hang to dry until 30% of hang weight is lost.

Hautwurst

What, you have never heard of hautwurst? Do not worry a bit because it is made up. With football season upon us, I wanted to make a batch of bratwurst, but make the standard recipe a little more “mine”

The start of this sausage is a basic bratwurst recipe, but adds an addition is ground bacon rind. The rind has gone through the curing process and then was smoked. Finally it was boiled until it softened and then was ground into the sausage mixture. The skin would bring flavor, but also, the texture and juiciness would be improved with the addition of pork skin.

The other motivation here was to test the ordering of simmering in beer and grilling. I remember, during my formative tailgating years in Wisconsin (the Copenhagen of tailgating), grilling then simmering. It seems backwards from everything, but I wanted to test. After testing both methods, I found that grilling then simmering produces a bratwurst with equal beer flavor, but noticeably better bratwurst texture.

By basically apply grill marks, then slow simmer it, you get enough grill character while ensuring a bratwurst which is cooked evenly and gently. The other way yielded good results, but were slightly overcooked. Now, with operator error certainly possible (probable), this could be proven incorrect, but I was happy to find that we didn’t waste our time grilling in a parking lot all those years.

Hautwurst

600 grams lean pork, ground
200 grams pork fat, ground
200 grams boiled bacon skin, ground
7 grams granulated sugar
15 grams kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram

Step one: Combine pork, fat and skin. Add sugar, salt, spices, and herbs and mix to combine until sausage sticks to your inverted hand.

Step two: Take a teaspoon and cook. Taste and reseason, if needed.

Step three: Stuff into casings.

Step four: Grill over an incredibly hot grill.

Step five: Simmer in a pot filled with beer and sliced onions.