This is a rich, country-style venison sausage recipe where the dominant spices are ground bay leaves and garlic. These are especially good for grilling, as bay seems to go well with the flavors that come with cooking over an open fire.
I like this as a coarse sausage, but you can grind it finer if you’d like. I also prefer a mix of venison and pork — and do your best to use pork that has never been frozen. This is important, because never-frozen meat, when ground, binds to itself better than pre-frozen meat. And you will be judged on how nice your bind is with sausages. No one likes crumbly sausage.
You will want fatty pork shoulder or pork belly, or a mix of both. For those of you who don’t know about dry milk powder, it’s used to retain moisture in smoked sausages; skip it if you don’t plan on smoking your sausages — likewise with the Instacure No. 1. This is a curing salt that protects the meat from bad bacteria while you’re smoking it. Skip it if you are just making sausages for the grill.
If you are unfamiliar with making fresh sausages, I wrote a basic tutorial on my friend Elise’s site here. I’ve also varied things by using thin hog casings and making large coils of sausage, which you then stab a long wooden skewer through on each axis, making a cross that you can then use to flip the coil whole. Then you just slice off as much venison sausage as your guests want.
It goes without saying that while this is a venison sausage recipe, you can make it all pork, or any mix of meats.
Venison Sausages with Bay and Garlic
- 3 pounds venison
- 2 pounds fatty pork shoulder or belly
- 34 grams salt, about 2 rounded tablespoons
- 4 grams Instacure No. 1 (optional)
- About 10 bay leaves, ground to a powder
- 6 to 8 cloves minced fresh garlic, about 2 tablespoons
- 10 grams ground black pepper, about 2 teaspoons
- 3 grams celery seed, about 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 20 grams dry milk powder (optional)
- hog casings about 12 to 15 feet
- Chop meat and fat into chunks that will for into your grinder. (Optional expert step: Mix the salt and curing salt - if using - with just the meat, grind very coarsely -- 10 mm or 12 mm plate -- and refrigerate overnight. If you don't have such a large plate, cut the meat a little finer and do the same thing. This will give you a tighter bind in the finished sausage, which is especially important, as this is a coarsely ground sausage.)
- Take out some hog casings and set in a bowl of warm water.
- When you are ready to grind, mix the meat and fat with all the herbs and spices. If you are using the dry milk powder, mix that in, too. I use it when I slow-smoke sausages; it helps them retain moisture and shrink less after they come out of the smoker. Make sure the meat and fat are 37°F or colder by putting the mixture in the freezer for an hour or so. Put the wine in the fridge.
- Grind through your meat grinder (you can use a food processor in a pinch, but you will not get a very good texture) using the coarse die (6 mm or 7 mm).
- Make sure your sausage is very cold, between 28°F and 32°F. When it's cold enough, take it out of the freezer and add the wine and water. Mix the sausage 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.
- 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, in the other direction; this helps prevent them from unwinding. Or you could tie them off with butcher’s string. Make sure you pierce the links wherever there are air pockets; I use a needle sterilized in the flames of my stovetop. Gently squeeze the links to remove all air pockets.
- Hang the sausages in a cool place for up to a day (ideally hanging in a fridge, but even an hour at room temperature helps a lot). Once they have dried a bit, put in the fridge until needed. They will keep for at least a week refrigerated. 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.