As a conscientious hunter who uses everything but the quack on a duck, I sometimes find myself with a surfeit of giblets: livers, hearts, and especially gizzards. Gizzards, especially. They are persnickety to clean, but a gorgeous when you do — they’re a rich, deep burgundy that looks like a fine wine. Gizzards are just meat, so they shouldn’t be too scary.
But they are tough. That’s why they are perfect candidates for the grinder. And what better to make than sausages? I came up with this sausage recipe to stuff some duck necks — you heard me right: Duck necks make great sausage casings. More on that topic here. But the giblet sausage filling is surprisingly tasty. It is definitely minerally, and a bit irony if you use a lot of hearts. If you focus on gizzards this will taste a lot more like a regular duck sausage.
This recipe does not make a ton of sausage, as it is designed for giblets and other ducky bits. You will want to supplement it with meat from shot-up ducks that can’t be properly roasted. If you are not a hunter, just use store-bought duck meat in this recipe; it will still be good.
Makes enough for 4-6 sausage links (recipe can be scaled up)
- 1/2 pound assorted duck giblets (gizzards, livers, hearts)
- 1/2 pound duck meat
- 1/4 pound pork fat
- 3 grams chopped fresh sage
- 10 grams Kosher salt
- 1 gram Instacure No. 1 (pink salt) OPTIONAL
- 1 gram freshly ground black pepper
- 2 grams thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 1/4 cup sweet wine, such as Tokay or Muscat
- Make sure all the meats are cleaned of shot-up parts. Slice the top edge off any heart you are using to remove most of the vein-y stuff. Clean the gizzards. Make certain there is no bile in the livers — it’s a dark sac that looks like a pine nut.
- Chop all the meats and the pork fat into chunks. Put in the freezer.
- Mix all the spices and the garlic together. The Instacure gives the sausage a nice red color and will protect it from bad microbes if you choose to slow smoke these sausages. You don’t need to add it.
- Take the meat out of the freezer and mix it well with the spices and garlic. Put it back in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Grind it through a meat grinder on a fine setting. If you don’t have one, you can use a big food processor, but it won’t be a good.
- Add the sweet wine and mix well with your hands or a stand-up mixer with the paddle attached. You should need about 60-90 seconds on the lowest setting of the mixer. If your room is warmer than 70 degrees, set the meat bowl in a larger bowl that has ice in it. The point of this step is to create a primary bind in the meat, a sort of emulsion.
- Put the meat back into the freezer for another 30 minutes or so.
- Stuff into casings. I like the narrow sheep casings or natural duck or goose necks, but you could use regular hog casings. You could also form this into patties, or leave loose for something like a pasta sauce.
- Let these dry at room temperature for about an hour, up to 4 hours if you have a cold (50 degrees or so) room. You can hang them for 8-12 hours in such a cold room if you have used the Instacure. This gives you a drier, more concentrated flavor.
Serve these sausages with a strong mustard grilled gently, pan-roasted or smoked. Do not cook them fast! Giblet sausages need a bit of time over the heat to develop themselves. Enjoy!