The last thing you need to do is package the sausage. For this breakfast sausage, I did some links and some bulk sausage. Now they are ready for the freezer or ready to cook. If packaged correctly, they will last in the freezer for a year or more, although sausages never last that long in my house. Jamie Carlson
We have all heard that old saying, You don’t want to see how the sausage is made. I disagree with that. I think we should all know how sausage is made, and we should all try making it ourselves at least once.
Making sausages with your wild game can be a great way to enjoy the meat you bring home. It’s also a great way to share wild game with friends and family who might not be familiar with it, or reluctant to try it.
Making fresh sausage at home may seem overwhelming, but truly: once you have the equipment and a little know-how, it goes very quickly. Best of all, it can be done with any kind of wild game you have handy.
The first thing you will need is a meat grinder. This can range from a cheap hand-crank grinder to a fancy multi-horse-powered grinder. You can pick up a very good quality grinder that will meet your needs for around $80. If you have a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, you can buy a grinder attachment for it that works very well.
If you want to make cased sausages, you will need a sausage stuffer. You can find these at most hardware stores or online for 75 dollars. You don’t have to make links however if you just want to make bulk sausage you can do that as well and then freeze your sausage in one-pound bags for later use.
There is only one rule I go by when making sausage: keep it cold. The colder the meat is, the better your final product. During any down time in your sausage-making process, keep the meat in the freezer. If the meat warms up too much (over 40°F), you can end up with a grainy texture in your meat and the sausage will not bind together well. So, keep your meat as cold as possible without actually freezing it.
Ingredients for venison, maple and cranberry sausage
- 4 lbs. venison
- 1.5 lbs. pork fat
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 40 grams kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1tsp fresh sage
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup powdered milk
- 1 tsp black pepper
Weigh out four pounds of meat (in this case, venison) and cut it into 2-inch cubes for the grinder. I like to use the meat from the front shoulders and the meat around the neck to make sausage. I try to avoid tough meat with a lot of sinew (like the shanks) for making sausage.
Most wild game is very lean and will need fat added to it. I use pork back fat, since it has a more neutral flavor than beef. Cut the fat into smaller pieces, about 1-inch cubes.
Measure out the seasoning ingredients for your sausage.
Add the seasoning to your meat.
Mix them all together. Let sit about 30 minutes in the freezer.
About 15 minutes before you are ready to begin grinding, place the metal grinder plates (or at the grinder, if you’re using a hand crank) in the freezer. Again, this will help with the texture.
For some sausages, you will need to grind the meat twice using a course grind and then a fine grind. I only ground this meat once, through the medium plate.
After the sausage is ground, you will need to give it a mix. They sell mixers for this and if you are going to be making large batches of sausage, I would highly recommend one. However, if you are just making small 5-pound batches, you can do this with your hands just as easily.
At this point, you are ready to taste the sausage. You should make a small patty and cook it as a sample. If you feel like you need to adjust the seasoning, now is the time to do it. Once you put it into the casings, it will be too late.
If you are going to make links, now is the time to prep the stuffer. I use to different kinds of casings for my sausage. I use hog casings for bigger sausages like bratwurst and polish sausage, and I use sheep casings for smaller-diameter sausage like breakfast links.
You can buy casings at your butcher shop or online. Some outdoor retailers have a selection as well. Most of the casings you will find are packed in salt and need to be soaked and rinsed before using.
Once you have filled your casings you will want to link them. Depending on the size of the links, you just pinch the sausage and then roll each link in the opposite direction as the last one. You will end up with nice, tight links.
After they are linked, you can cut the links and set them somewhere cold and with a good breeze. You want the casings to dry slightly and tighten up around the meat.
The last thing you need to do is package the sausage. For this breakfast sausage, I did some links and some bulk sausage. Now they are ready for the freezer or ready to cook. If packaged correctly, they will last in the freezer for a year or more, although sausages never last that long in my house.