Venison Summer Sausage

I’ve been tweaking this recipe for years, and finally have it where I want it. More than one person has told me it’s the best they’ve ever had.

A big part of the great flavor is the satisfying “tang” that comes from adding ECA (Encapsulated Citric Acid). Use only ENCAPSULATED citric acid or you won’t get the proper tang, and might get an odd flavor. The encapsulation (made from hydrogenated vegetable oil) melts at the proper temperature so that the meat gets exposed to the citric acid at the right time in the process. Otherwise getting that tang requires fermenting the sausage, which involves using bacterial cultures, equipment and techniques that are more for professionals.

I’m starting to shift from imperial to metric. Sorry if that’s a hassle – but digital kitchen scales are inexpensive, accurate, rugged, and widely available. You need one. Sausage recipes can be fussy, and accuracy is important.

Several of the ingredients may not be available at your grocer or butcher. They are all available online at sites like SausageMaker.com, and Amazon.

Part of the secret is the timing and temperatures. They are important but can be a hassle to attain without babysitting the smoker. I use an external smoke generator (google “Mailbox mod”) with the temperature in my electric smoker precisely managed by a programmable “Auber WSD-1500H-W” PID controller.

It is expensive but makes a complex temperature schedule very easy to handle. Warning – PID’s work only on analog smokers. Most digital smokers can be brute modified to put their heating element under PID control (that’s what I did with my Masterbuilt MES 340G), but that typically disables all of their digital functions and means that unless restored to original condition they must NEVER AGAIN be plugged into direct power, but always powered through a PID.
Print Recipe
Venison Summer Sausage Yum
Course Side dish
Cuisine American
Servings
lbs
Ingredients
Meat/Fat
  • 16 lbs venison — trim well and slice into grinder strips or chunks
  • 4 lbs pork butt — trim out large fat chunks, no need to get crazy with it
  • 5 lbs Fatback — You'll probably need to get it from a butcher. Read more in "notes" below.
Slurry
Final Mix
  • cup whole peppercorns — Sample amount.... 1/2 cup per 25lb was light
  • 3/4 cup yellow mustard seed — or mix of brown/yellow
  • 3 oz Encapsulated Citric Acid (ECA) — Don't mix longer than needed and stuff immediately after.
  • casings — Enough to hold your batch. I recommend "fibrous". Check "notes" below for more info. Be sure you have hog rings and hog-ring pliers too.
Course Side dish
Cuisine American
Servings
lbs
Ingredients
Meat/Fat
  • 16 lbs venison — trim well and slice into grinder strips or chunks
  • 4 lbs pork butt — trim out large fat chunks, no need to get crazy with it
  • 5 lbs Fatback — You'll probably need to get it from a butcher. Read more in "notes" below.
Slurry
Final Mix
  • cup whole peppercorns — Sample amount.... 1/2 cup per 25lb was light
  • 3/4 cup yellow mustard seed — or mix of brown/yellow
  • 3 oz Encapsulated Citric Acid (ECA) — Don't mix longer than needed and stuff immediately after.
  • casings — Enough to hold your batch. I recommend "fibrous". Check "notes" below for more info. Be sure you have hog rings and hog-ring pliers too.
Instructions
Step 1
  1. Make a plan for your time. Most important is to avoid delay between the time you add the ECA, and when you load the smoker.
  2. Stage grinder parts, fat and chunked meat and in freezer until meat is well firmed but not frozen hard (≈ half an hour)
  3. Coarse grind the fat and return to freezer.
  4. Grind meat through 3/8" plate, return to freezer a few minutes then mix in the coarse-ground fat and re-grind it all through a 3/16" plate (≈ half an hour)
  5. If using fibrous casings, soak in warm water 1/2 hour before stuffing
  6. make the slurry and pour over meat. Mix a bit.
  7. Add peppercorns and mustard seed and thoroughly mix until tacky.
  8. It's fine to schedule a break here, up to a day or two, storing the meat in the fridge. Or just carry on.
Step 2 - ECA (VERY IMPORTANT to perform all steps in this group and get the sausage in the smoker without extra delay)
  1. Add the ECA and mix only until well distributed. DO NOT OVERMIX or the encapsulation can be damaged, which introduces the citric acid to the meat too early, which will prevent the proper tang from developing during the cook.
  2. Stuff casings (≈ half an hour)
  3. Hang sausages at room temp 2-4 hours.
Step 3 - Smoking
  1. Preheat smoker to 110°F then dry the casings by hanging sausages with full open damper for 2 hours with cold smoke.
  2. Raise temp to 120°F for 4 hours, continuing smoke
  3. Raise temp to 165°F for 4 hours, continuing smoke.
  4. stop smoke, and raise temp to 175°F until sausage temp reaches 152°F
  5. Immediately remove and shower or ice bath to drop internal sausage temp < 120°F
  6. Hang to "bloom" at room temp 2-4 hours.
  7. Refrigerate at least a couple of days before use. Freeze for long term storage, leaving what you'll use within a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

FAT: Use pork fatback. Check with your butcher. Often fatback is sold with some skin still attached. Ask that the skin be removed first, or plan to remove it yourself.

The meat must be also be chilled to a stiff consistency before coarse grind. Then mix the fat and meat and fine grind together.

You could also grind the meat "night before" so long as you have a good cold fridge to store it covered until mixing in the morning. 

If using Encapsulated Citric Acid, don't mix in the slurry. You add it last for a final, gentle mix - just enough to get it evenly distributed but not enough to damage the encapsulation.

Purchase enough casings to comfortably hold the batch. Somewhere around 2.5" diameter is traditional for summer sausage. If you plan to hang them to smoke, buy a size that will fit while hung without leaving the bottom of the sausage too near the heat source - which would cause the bottom to overcook. Of course you could cut them to fit before stuffing. Casings are widely available but my favorites are the beautiful casings from a Ukraine company called Seym: https://www.ebay.com/sch/fashionseim/m.html. They liked the picture I took of my sausages so much they made it their profile pic on their Facebook page! facebook.com/SEYMcasings. Shipping takes a few weeks so plan ahead.

View online at KillerNoms.com/summersausage

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