I am a huge fan, a connoisseur even, of sausages, especially smoked sausages. If I am at an event or gathering where there is food served, I can sniff out the meat and cheese tray with relative ease. I have to watch myself closely because I have a tendency to wipe out all of the sausage off the tray before the end of the night. I guess the first step to managing a problem is admitting that I have a problem……or addiction……depends on how you look at it. This year I got a meat grinder
for a Christmas gift and couldn’t wait to try it out. Something about the combo of highly seasoned ground meat and smoke that wins me over every time. I’ve only made my own sausage from time to time, for special events or occasions, until recently. Not only is it easy to do, but the best thing about it is that you can control what goes into your food, which to me is a big deal. Take a look at the list of ingredients on most any commercially made sausage and I will bet you that there are at least 3 things in there that you can’t pronounce and have no idea what they even are.
My most recent voyage into the sausage world was this Smoked Beef Summer Sausage. Now if you want to be more adventurous or just plain different, you could use venison, elk, pork, bison or any other meat. Just make sure that you have enough fat in your ground meat mixture to keep the sausage from getting dry and crumbly. Plus everyone knows that fat is where the flavor lives!
Sausage in its most basic equation is meat + fat + seasonings + goodthings! I have found that a ratio of 20-30% fat to 70-80% lean meat works best. Make sure your meat and fat are very well chilled, as close to freezing as possible, when grinding. This will help the meat grind better and form nice separate pieces of ground meat, not a mushy pile of crapola.
So once you get your ground meat and fat mixed together you need to season it. I combined some fresh minced garlic, brown mustard seed, coarse ground black pepper, a hint of sugar, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes and onion powder in a bowl and mixed until blended. Mix all of the ingredients into the meat and work it in until thoroughly combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 days. Once a day for the next 3 days unwrap the mixture and mix thoroughly. Recover and put back in the fridge.
On the third day remove the mix from the refrigerator and mix one last time. Separate the mix into equal parts
I don’t use a casing when I make summer sausage because I smoke mine and in my opinion the casing limits the amount of smoke flavor that the sausage takes on. I use a rectangle shaped piece of plastic wrap to roll and shape the mixture into a tight log about 2 inches thick and 6-7 inches long.