I had the opportunity several weeks ago to participate in something I’ve never done before. My brother-in-law recently acquired some sausage making equipment and my mother and father-in-law came into possession of large amounts of ground beef as well as some venison that was still in the freezer. It was time to make some sausage. Me and my son, Brian, got invited over for the fun.
It was quite the process, let me tell you. All the recipes they used required a certain amount of ground pork. So the first stage of the operation called for grinding massive quantities of pork shoulder. As with most things, having good equipment makes a world of difference. Here we have an electric grinder making quick work of the pork. I imagine the venison also had to go through the grinder as well.
Next came the mixing. This looked like the most arduous part of the procedure. They made the venison (deer) sausage first. Ground venison, pork, some seasonings, including an interesting mixture called “freeze ‘em pickle”. I had to research this a little bit because I’ve never heard of it before. It is a curing agent consisting mostly of sodium nitrate. It adds flavor to the meat and acts as a preservative. A few years ago, they also started adding some shredded cheddar cheese to the mix. This was really good. It melts inside while the sausage is cooking and really gives the sausage a nice juicy flavor.
All this was mixed by hand along with some water to keep the meat moist and to aid in the stuffing process. It looked like a lot of work. Kind of like mixing a meatloaf for a small army.
Then the fun begins. You load up the mixture into a canister and put it into the stuffer. Then you slide the casing over the stuffing tube and turn the crank. It does work best with three people. My father-in-law, Jim, is working the crank, brother-in-law, Dave is feeding the casing, and my son, Brian is coiling the sausage. They look they’ve done this before.
Another shot of the stuffing crew.
After the venison was finished, it was time for the beef. Their plan was to make slim-jims and summer sausage. I really like slim-jims but I know they aren’t for everyone. They are a bit on the spicy side. This recipe called for beef and pork and slim-jim seasoning purchased from the local butcher. I was also told some more pepper was added for a bit more “zing”.
More mixing, and mixing, and mixing. Then we took a handful and fried it up to see if anything needed to be added. It was delicious but wow, what a kick! It was quite spicy and everyone agreed nothing needed to be added. I don’t have any pictures of this but the process was the same. The stuffing tube was just smaller.
After the spicy was done, they mixed up a batch of teriyaki flavored. A sample of this was also fried up for taste testing. It was much sweeter with a hint of brown sugar. Really good for the mild palate. Into the stuffer with that.
Next on the agenda was summer sausage. Beef and pork again, along with summer sausage seasoning with some mustard seeds thrown in. Mixing, mixing, mixing. Then into the stuffer. This one called for the big stuffing tube.
I got to take a turn at the crank.
After the summer sausage was stuffed, the ends had to be tied. Here’s Brian keeping it upright so the tying could take place.
Stuffing completed, time for stuffer disassembly and clean-up.
It was a lot of fun. The slim-jims and summer sausage went to the butcher for smoking. The deer sausage went through a vacuum sealer.
Thanks to my generous in-laws, we were rewarded for our efforts with a portion of the proceeds. I haven’t had a chance to try the deer sausage yet, but am not worried. It’s always been delicious in the past. The slim-jims were probably my favorite. After the smoking process, the spice wasn’t so overpowering. The raging inferno was tempered to a slow burn. I do like spicy sausage and they really came out nice. We had them all eaten within the first 2 weeks.
My wife and son liked the teriyaki flavor better as it wasn’t as spicy. It was good, but my preference is still the heat.
The summer sausage was fantastic. The seasoning and smoke were mixed really well. We probably wouldn’t have any of this left either but I’m rationing it. I only take a log out of the freezer every so often so hopefully it will last a little longer.
I’ll probably fire up the grill and cook some of the deer sausage this weekend now we’ve been blessed with snow-melting temperatures. It may rain, but that shouldn’t stop me.
I must thank my wonderful in-laws for the experience and gift of meat. It is most sincerely appreciated. I look forward to another invitation to a sausage making party.