I like to call this fresh venison sausage my “A Zone” sausage. It’s a California inside joke, as the state, in its infinite wisdom, makes us hunt blacktail deer in the Coastal Range mountains in August, when temperatures can soar beyond 100 degrees. But once you get the meat cooled down and ready to cook with, you happen to be blessed with summer’s ingredients.
No juniper, rosemary or winter flavors here. No sir. This sausage is all about our Mediterranean summers: Fresh garlic, lemon zest, white wine — and lots of fresh basil.
If you have not made sausages before, or want to bone up on basic technique, I wrote a simple tutorial on my friend Elise’s site, Simply Recipes, that can be found here.
Makes about 5 pounds
- 4 pounds venison (or antelope, elk, moose, or beef)
- 1 pound pork fat (beef fat is OK, too)
- 35 grams Kosher salt (about 2 tablespoons)
- 15 grams cracked black pepper (about a tablespoon)
- 25 grams fresh chopped garlic (about 2 tablespoons)
- Zest of a lemon
- 5 grams celery seed (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Juice of a lemon
- 6 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil
- Hog casings
- Chill the meat until it is almost frozen by putting it in the freezer for an hour or so.
- Take out some hog casings and set in a bowl of very warm water.
- Chop meat (and pork fat, if using) into 1 inch chunks.
- Take out half the black pepper, garlic and basil. Why? You’ll want to add them right before you do that final mix. This keeps the spices larger, altering the sausage’s texture, making eating it more interesting.
- Combine the salt, the rest of the pepper, herbs, lemon zest and spices with the meat, mix well with your hands and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.
- Grind through your meat grinder (you can use a food processor in a pinch, but you will not get a fine texture) using the coarse die. If your room is warmer than 69 degrees, set the bowl for the ground meat into another bowl of ice to keep it cold.
- Add the rest of the black pepper, basil and garlic, plus the wine and lemon juice, then mix thoroughly either using a Kitchenaid on low for 60-90 seconds or with your (very clean) hands. This is important to get the sausage to bind properly. Once it is mixed well, put it back in the fridge while you clean up.
- Stuff the sausage into the casings. Twist off links by pinching the sausage down and twisting it, first in one direction, and then with the next link, the other direction. Or you could tie them off with butcher’s string.
- Hang the sausages in a cool place for up to 4 hours (the colder it is, the longer you can hang them). If it is warm out, hang for one hour. Once they have dried a bit, put in the fridge until needed. They will keep for at least a week in the fridge.
- If you are freezing the sausages, wait a day before doing so. This will tighten up the sausages and help them keep their shape in the deep-freeze.