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Venison Sausages with Sage

venison sausages with porcini and sage recipe

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I invented this fresh sausage recipe as a way to link the venison with its surroundings. Venison and woodland mushrooms like porcini are natural complements — and sage is another natural pairing with venison, and grows wild here in California. So there you go.

I also wanted this to be a little more refined than my typical country sausages, so I used gin and ground the meat and fat through the fine die of my meat grinder; this results in a smoother texture in the finished sausage.

A note on the fat: If your deer is fat, cut off some of it, chop it small and render it out slowly in a little pan with some water. Once the fat is clear and rendered, smell it: Does it smell good? Taste it on some bread: Does it taste good? Then use a little venison fat in this sausage. If not, use pork fat or beef fat.

You also need to remove as much gristle and silverskin as you can off the meat or it will clog the fine die. You can avoid all of this by grinding everything twice, first through your coarse die, then the fine.

If you are not a hunter, substitute in lamb or beef. If you are having trouble finding dried porcini, you can often find it in supermarkets in little packets, or just use any dried mushroom you can find.

Once these sausages are finished, they are excellent smoked for a few hours, then grilled.

NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with making sausages at home, I wrote a good step-by-step on the technique over at my friend Elise’s site Simply Recipes. You can read it here.

Makes about 5 pounds, or about 15 sausages

Prep Time: 90 minutes

Cook Time: n/a

  • 4 pounds venison, lamb or beef
  • 1/2 pound venison, lamb or beef fat (optional)
  • 1/2 pound pork fat (or 1 lb pork fat if not using venison fat)
  • 1/4 cup gin or red wine
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 33 grams (about 2 tablespoons) Kosher salt
  • 4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) Instacure No. 1 (optional)
  • 6 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 4 minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground dried mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons minced sage
  • hog casings
  1. Chop the meat and fat into chunks of about that will fit into your grinder. (Optional expert step: Mix the salt and curing salt with just the meat and refrigerate overnight. This helps make a tighter bind by developing myosin in the meat.) When you are ready to grind, mix the garlic, shallots, herbs and spices together and toss with the meat and fat.
  2. Take out some hog casings and set in a bowl of warm water.
  3. Make sure the meat and fat are very cold, about 34°F or thereabouts. If it’s not, freeze the meat and fat for an hour or so. Grind the meat and fat through your coarse die, anywhere from 10 mm to 7 mm. If the mixture is still nice and cold, grind immediately again through a finer die, say 4.5 mm. If the mixture’s temperature has climbed beyond about 38°F, chill it in the freezer until it’s cold enough.
  4. After grinding, put the mixture back in the freezer until it’s very cold — about 30°F. It won’t freeze solid because of the salt. When it’s cold, take it out and add the gin and water and mix thoroughly either using a Kitchenaid on low for 60 to 90 seconds or with your (very clean) hands for 2 minutes. This is important to get the sausage to bind properly.
  5. Stuff the sausage into the casings all at once. 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. NOTE: If you are using venison, lamb or beef fat, make these sausages smaller than you would with pork fat, as these fats are richer than pork fat.
  6. Hang the sausages in a cool place for at least an hour; 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.

More Venison Recipes
More Sausage and Cured Meat Recipes

16 responses to “Venison Sausages with Sage”

  1. DIY moose sausage | The DIY Adventures

    […] recipe was poached from Hank Shaw’s Hunter, Angler, Gardener Cook site, with some […]

  2. Bob

    Curious as to the addition of the instacure #1?

  3. Bob

    Wow, second time today I failed to read the entire piece. I completely missed the part about smoking, which I’m presumming your addition of Instacure #1.

  4. Bob

    Hank, just made my adaptation of this recipe, using Berkshire pork and juniper berries (no gin on hand). Did a sample taste test. Oh wow! This sausage is unbelievably good. Now off to get some casings to stuff it.

  5. Andy

    I just made this recipe and it was terrific! Even the wife likes it.

  6. Bryan

    Would you recommend using porcini mushroom powder or getting whole dried porcini mushrooms and grinding them myself? If the latter, how many ounces of porcini mushrooms are in 2 tablespoons?

  7. Chris

    Unbelievable! Made this last night and am cooking some up for breakfast as well. This is a close to venison sausage PERFECTION I’ve tasted. Thanks Hank!

  8. Mikhail

    I just made this recipe with more wine and no gin and it was very good. However the whole porcini thing is an absolute joke. I actually added several times the required amount of dried porcini mushrooms, just because I had them available, but then I realized that it’s a total waste of porcini’s because you will never be able to taste them. Please note that I could not find my butcher’s string and ended up using some cotton (I think) string I had available, and it did not work nearly as well as butcher’s string, the knots did not stay tight.

  9. John D.

    Mr. Shaw,

    I had to let you know how impressed I was with this recipe, even though I did some tinkering out of necessity. I couldn’t get my hands on the porcini mushrooms, mainly due to my own impatience, so I roasted/dried some sliced portabella mushrooms in a 200 degree oven for a few hours, diced them up, and used them in the mix. Two hours of hickory and pecan smoke in my Bradley and the links came out as close to perfection as I could have hoped. Thanks for the recipe and method. All that venison roast in the freezer now has a new purpose.

  10. dave


    You mention that they re excellent smoked then grilled. Does that mean cold smoked for flavor only, and all the cooking done on grill? Or hot smoked to doneness?

  11. Giuseppe

    Hank: Made this with Elk last night, I’ll try it tonight but it smelled fantastic. I don’t have a smoker, and further preparing suggestion?

    Bryan…maybe a year too late but I ground dried porcini with a mortar and pestle and it worked great. Used about a hand full of larger pieces to get to 2tbls

    Thanks for all your great recipes! Made duck stock last night as well and making your spicy goose prosciutto next week with spec.

  12. Shawn

    I am not fond of venison fat (tallow). This has to e the first recipe where I have seen it used in sausage.

  13. Jim

    I just made a batch with a moose shoulder roast a friend gave me a couple of years ago. I haven’t smoked them yet but this is already a superb sausage.

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