Wild Turkey Bratwurst

This is a great generic bratwurst recipe, and wild turkey meat is a fine base for sausage. But wild turkey is as lean as wild game gets, so fat is a critical factor.Be sure you adding enough to keep it from turning out dry or mealy.

Hover here for the “skinny” on fat…

Game sausage recipes always include added fat, usually pork. They use words like “shoulder trimmings” or “butt” or just “fat”.

The noble pig sports several types:

  • FatBack: (a.k.a. back fat) The hard fat found on the back of the pig. With a high melting-point, it is exceptionally well suited for sausage. It sometimes comes skin-on, in which case be sure to remove the skin before weighing or grinding.
  • Jowl fat: Prized by fancy artisanal sausage makers for it’s more creamy texture.
  • Shoulder Butt: (a.k.a. Boston butt, shoulder) A roast heavily marbled with fat, excellent for sausage. “Pork Butt” or shoulder trimmings are the most common source of fat specified in game recipes. Keep in mind a whole butt is about 30% fat, 70% lean. “Pork Butt Trimmings” are much higher in fat percentage, up to 90% depending on who did the trimming. So there is a huge difference, and they are not interchangeable in a sausage recipe.
  • Belly Fat: (a.k.a pork belly, where bacon comes from) A soft fat with a low melting point. Some sources consider it unsuited for sausage. Probably best not to use belly fat or bacon unless the recipe specifically calls for it, or you’re experimenting on purpose.
  • Kidney Fat: (a.k.a. leaf lard) A hard intestinal fat concentrated around the kidneys. Some consider it a bit too hard for sausage, but it has the most neutral (least “porky”) flavor, makes the flakiest pastries and the best lard.

Be warned that most grocery store meat counter folks, and even some butchers, don’t understand all of the above. I’ve had butchers tell me there is no difference between back fat and shoulder fat, and it just ain’t so.

Cost for fat varies widely. In deer hunting country supply and demand can drive the cost up during the peak of venison sausage making season. — supply and demand. I consider $1 a pound to be fair, but you may need to call around to get it for that.

Tweaking sausage recipes is part of the game — but two ingredients are worthy of caution: salt and fat. Too much or too little of either can ruin things.

When adjusting fat or salt in a proven recipe, it’s best to test with a small batch first to be sure you’re hitting your target. Even changing the type of fat can produce a large swing in the taste or texture of your sausage.

Salt density varies widely by type and even brand. Going by weight is safest. But if you measure by volume using a different type of salt than the recipe presumes—you could be way off. The intarwebs has a WIDE range of opinions on the salt density of the various types and brands. The volumes in this recipe are based on sources that seemed the most credible.

This recipe includes eggs & dairy, which produce a nice firm texture when poached. You can skip poaching if preparing and serving right away. But proper poaching (152°F for at least 3 minutes) also pasteurizes the sausage, extending shelf life.

Print Recipe
Wild Turkey Bratwurst Yum
Traditional bratwurst involves pale meats such as veal and pork. Wild turkey is a great base for this iconic sausage. Including thigh along with breast improves flavor.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
lbs meat/fat
Ingredients
Meat
  • 5.3 lbs Boneless wild turkey meat — Best is a mix of breast and thigh. Those who just "breast 'em out" & don't save legs and thighs do not have permission to use this recipe. See notes below about dealing with pellets.
  • 2.7 lbs Fatback
Salt by weight or volume - PICK JUST ONE!
Pre-grind ingredients
Post-grind ingredients
Other
  • 8 yards 32-35mm natural hog casing — Shop carefully, pricey in small quantities. Extra should last at least a year or two in the fridge if packed in salt.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
lbs meat/fat
Ingredients
Meat
  • 5.3 lbs Boneless wild turkey meat — Best is a mix of breast and thigh. Those who just "breast 'em out" & don't save legs and thighs do not have permission to use this recipe. See notes below about dealing with pellets.
  • 2.7 lbs Fatback
Salt by weight or volume - PICK JUST ONE!
Pre-grind ingredients
Post-grind ingredients
Other
  • 8 yards 32-35mm natural hog casing — Shop carefully, pricey in small quantities. Extra should last at least a year or two in the fridge if packed in salt.
Instructions
  1. Get the pre-grind ingredients measured out and ready
  2. Cut meat and fat to fit grinder.
  3. mix meat (not fat) together with the "Pre-grind ingredients", taking care to have the lemon zest well distributed - it tends to clump. Refrigerate covered. 12 hours is great, not less than 2 hours.
  4. Place meat, fat and removable grinder parts in freezer ≈ 20 minutes. You want the meat stiff but not frozen.
  5. Toast and lightly grind caraway seed with mortar and pestle. Get your remaining post-grind ingredients together.
  6. Grind semi-frozen fat through a coarse plate - 1/2" (12.5mm) or 3/8" (10mm).
  7. If you want to be fancy about it, divide the meat into two batches and grind the first batch through a coarse (3/8" or 10mm) plate, then add the fat to the 2nd batch and grind through a fine plate (3/16" or 4.5mm), then mix both batches together. This produces an interesting texture, but it's OK to just grind everything through the 3/16" plate, producing a more familiar brat.
  8. Add dry post-grind ingredients. Mix.
  9. Add remaining "Post-grind ingredients" (cream & egg). Mix well. If it looks too stiff to stuff, add ice water and mix until you are happy with the texture.
  10. Return meat to the refrigerator to chill below 35°F
  11. Prepare/rinse casings and soak in warm water 20 minutes. Set up stuffer.
  12. Stuff into casings and form into links. It's not hard but there are some techniques. Watching a couple of youtube videos on sausage linking will help you much more than me trying to describe it. Try to fill the cases consistently loose enough they don't burst when linked, but tight enough to become firm when linked. It takes practice. Do the linking right away before breaking down your stuffer, so if you have "exploders" you can add the recovered meat back to the stuffer for a second try.
  13. Secret note: it turns out the leftover bit in the stuffer and tube is the perfect amount to slap into patties and fry right away for a well-earned Scoobie snack with a dab of mustard. They brown up nice!
  14. Optionally poach links in 160°F water until sausage hits 152°F, ≈ 25 minutes. Try to get close with the water temp — definitely do NOT boil or let the sausages get much above 152°F. Sous vide is even better than poaching - retains more flavor and easier to be precise, but difficult to accomplish in a large batch. Once the center of the sausage hits 152°F, if you hold it there for at least 3 minutes that sausage will be pasteurized, which increases the safe shelf life. Don't go much longer or to a higher temp or you will render too much fat. See notes below for more info.
  15. Immediately chill links in ice water to 90°F or cooler.
  16. Hang links at room temp to dry for an hour or so. Refrigerate a day or two then wrap well and freeze. Or leave in fridge and use within a few days. Cook and serve like any other bratwurst.
Recipe Notes

This recipe was updated in April 2020 to add some new spices, and to make some detailed changes to the instructions.

Poaching is not mandatory, but with sausages containing eggs and dairy it works best — creating a nice firm texture. If making patties you can poach them using the sous-vide method then brown them with a torch or on a hot grill or pan..

Like any other game taken with birdshot, it is VERY important to take the time necessary to check for and remove any pellets before cooking. This involves careful, observant trimming before packaging for the freezer. Candling meat strips when preparing large pieces for grinding is a good last step to be sure you didn't miss any. A small percentage of any lead you may have missed is "bio-available". No safe level has been established for children or pregnant women. And if you use non-toxic shot such as bismuth, steel, or tungsten - errant pellets may be hard enough to break your grinder knife and damage your grinder plate. Not to mention your teeth.

If poaching via sous-vide, avoid applying enough vacuum to distort the casing. Either use the water displacement method, or an external style sealer — pressing the "seal" button the instant you hear the motor pitch change or see that nearly all of the air is out. If using a chamber style sealer turn the vacuum time down far enough so that there is a little bit of space still visible around the brats - you may have to waste a bag or two while dialing that setting in.

Cook and serve like any other bratwurst. Take them to at least 165°F. Best if nicely browned. Enjoy!

View online at http://KillerNoms.com/turkeybrats

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