Many venison sausage recipes almost seem to apologize for the venison — either masking it with heavy spices or shoehorning it into recipes designed around other meats.
But venison does taste different than beef or pork. If it was cared for properly from the time it hit the ground to the time it hit the plate, it needs no apology — and deserves its own recipe.
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.
- Jowl fat: Prized by fancy artisinal sausage makers for it’s more creamy texture.
- Shoulder Butt: (a.k.a. Boston butt, shoulder) A roast heavily marbled with excellent fat for sausage. The butt is the most common fat specified in game recipes. Keep in mind a whole butt is about 30% fat, 70% lean. 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 recipes call for it, but some sources consider it unsuited for sausage. Probably best not to use belly fat or bacon unless the recipe calls for it or you’re experimenting on purpose.
- Kidney Fat: (a.k.a. leaf lard) A hard intestinal fat concentrated around the kidneys. Possibly too hard for sausage, but it makes the flakiest pastries and the best lard.
Be warned that many 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 can vary all over the place – from free or close to it, to those who will charge as if it was loin. More than 1$/lb seems excessive, though in areas where deer hunting is common prices tend to go up after the deer season while everybody gets the sausage making bug. I’ve sometimes seen pork butt trimmings cost more than pork butt, a reflection of supply and demand. It pays to shop.