Landjaeger. Such a cool name, eh? It’s a German dry-cured sausage that is made small enough to fit into your coat pocket on a cold day hiking, fishing — or hunting. Traditionally made with beef and pork, my landjaeger is made with venison and pork fat. You could use any red meat — goat, lamb, elk, etc.
This is a tricky sausage to make. It requires a few advanced sausage-making skills and some equipment. If you’ve never made dry-cured salami before, don’t try this recipe. Make something a little easier, like my Boar Salami California instead.
You will need a few things before you even start:
- A humidifier, or a place where the humidity is over 85 percent.
- A place to hang your sausages in this humid environment.
- A place to hang your sausages after the initial ferment, preferably a place with humidity about 80 percent and about 55 degrees.
- A smoker. Landjaeger is lightly smoked before it hangs to dry.
Use narrow hog casings for this salami. Landjaeger is, in essence, a really, really good Slim Jim. A snack to be enjoyed outdoors, not sliced like a wider salami. Hog casings are available at any good supermarket (ask the butcher) or in a butcher’s shop.
Makes 5 pounds, or about 20-22 eight-inch links.
Prep Time: 20 days
Cook Time: 3 hours
- 4 pounds venison
- 1 pound pork fat
- 38 grams (about 3 tablespoons) kosher salt
- 15 grams (a scant 2 tablespoons) sugar or dextrose
- 6 grams (about a teaspoon) Instacure No. 1
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 20 grams (about 2 tablespoons) starter culture T-SPX
- 1/2 cup distilled water
- Chill the meat and fat in the freezer for at least 1 hour. You want it close to frozen, even a little crispy cold.
- Chop the meat and fat into 1-inch chunks. Remove as much silverskin and gristle as you can from the venison.
- Put about 10 feet of hog casings into some warm water and set aside.
- Mix all the spices, salt, curing salt and sugar with the meat and fat. Chill for 1 hour in the fridge.
- Grind through the fine die on your grinder. If you are using trim from a deer — meaning there’s a lot of silverskin, etc — grind first through the coarse die, then again through the fine die. If you need to double-grind, chill the meat in the freezer between grindings for 15-20 minutes. Clean up the grinder while the meat is chilling. When you finish cleaning it, submerge everything in ice water to quickly cool it down.
- Meanwhile, run warm water through your hog casings. This flushes them, and will show you any leaks in the casings. Set them aside when you’re done.
- Take the temperature of the meat: If it is warmer than 40 degrees, put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes and check again.
- When the meat is good and cold, get your starter culture ready. Gently mix the starter culture with the distilled water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Take out the meat and put it in a mixer bowl with the heavy paddle attachment. Add the starter culture, then mix everything on the lowest setting for 60-90 seconds. You will see the meat change texture. You are looking for a good bind, where the meat is beginning to stick to itself.
- Put the meat into your sausage stuffer and stuff it into the hog casings. Twist off into links of about 8 inches. Tie off each link with kitchen twine.
- Hang the links on a drying rack — a wooden clothes drying rack is excellent for this — and find a needle. Heat the tip of the needle over a flame until it glows; this sterilizes it. Prick the casing anywhere you see air pockets.
- Now you need to ferment the sausage. You will want to tent the hanging sausages with black plastic from some garbage bags, or some other plastic sheeting. If you have one, put a humidifier under the sausages. You really want them to stay moist.
- Let the sausages hang for at least 24 hours, and up to 48 hours. Every 6-12 hours, spritz them with a spray mister to keep them moist. This is the fermentation stage, the stage where the starter culture you are using defeats any bad bacteria in the sausage.
- When the sausages are ready, fire up the smoker. Put ice cubes in the water tray to keep the temperature as cool as possible. You are not cooking the links here, you are giving them a good smoking.
- Use oak, hickory, any fruit or nut wood. Avoid mesquite, as it is too distinctive. And no pine — too much resin. Smoke the links for 2-3 hours, making sure the temperature stays cool.
- If the smoker got beyond 150 degrees, douse the links in an ice water bath to stop any cooking. Pat them dry.
- Now you need to hang them in your drying chamber. I use an old fridge with a temperature regulator and a humidifier in it. Hang the links at about 80 percent humidity for at least 2 weeks before eating. You can let them go as long as 6 weeks. Store in the fridge, or vacuum sealed in the freezer.