On a deer hunt last fall I harvested a nice four point buck on public land in California. After cooling, then getting the carcass home I started turning the primal cuts into portions that I would use. Typically I would end up with a pile of bits and pieces that were not easily usable but as I cut up this deer I saved all those little pieces and froze them with the the steaks and jerky meat. Over dinner I shared my idea of making venison sausage with Jenna and Amon – they were into the idea and we set up a weekend work day at their Full Belly Farm Kitchen. Arriving with my family and venison, with their family and community, they were in the process of cutting up an old sow that had been culled from a farming operation in the Capay Valley. With the pork but of this sow and their kitchen we made a great batch of venison sausage. The recipe we started with is from CHARCUTERIE by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. Thank you so much Jenna and Amon for helping us with this – I will forever use my venison more wisely.
Ingredient List 5X Larger Batch
- 3.5 pounds Venison 16 pounds
- 1.5 pounds Pork Shoulder Butt 7.5 pounds
- 2 tablespoons Sugar 10 T
- 1.5 ounces Kosher Salt 7.5 Oz
- 1 tablespoon Onion Powder 5 T
- 1 teaspoon Ground White Pepper 5 tsp
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian Paprika 10 tsp
- 1 teaspoon Pink Salt 5 tsp
- 0.5 teaspoon Ground Allspice 2.5 tsp
- 0.5 teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg 2.5 tsp
- 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper 5 tsp
- 0.5 teaspoon garlic powder 2.5 tsp
- 1 cup Ice Water 5 Cups
1. As you cut up your deer, while trimming the steak and jerky cuts, make a pile of all those little bits of good meat that are just too small to do anything with. The neck, normally a piece of meat that I have been at a lost as to what to do with, is also great. All of the small meat from the front shoulders are also prime candidates to be salvaged into sausage . Additionally, some of the better cuts from other parts of the deer to get the volume you want. However, the prime back-straps are not best used this way and if you do turn those into Deer Sausage, don’t tell anyone…
2. Use pork shoulder butt with the natural amount of fat that is attached. Adding chunks of pork fat out of proportion of what was already on the shoulder butt is not needed.
3. Cut the venison and pork into cubes that are about 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches.
4. Lay all of the meat onto a tray and put into the freezer – the grinding part is much more successful when the meat is very cold, even a little froze on the edges.
5. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
6. Once the venison and pork are cold enough, put them into a large bowl, sprinkle the dry ingredients over and mix with your hands (your hands should get so cold they hurt).
7. Set the meat grinder up with a small to medium die plate and grind into sausage.
8. Add the ice water to the ground meat and mix until it has a uniform sticky appearance.
9. Saute a small piece on the stove and taste, make adjustments as needed (we added the fresh lemon juice to taste, which was not called for in the recipe, but made the sausage more flavorful).
10. If you are going to stuff the sausage into casings, now is the time to do it. Alternatively, you can portion the meat into one pound bags.
11. Different ways to ration the sausage before freezing it:
a. 1 pound bags – we really like these and they were the first to be used up.
b. Hog Casings – tried them but think they are too thick, however, they are very easy to get into the casing.
c. Lamb Casings – we really liked these, however, they are more difficult to case.