This is a rich, country-style venison sausage where the dominant spice is 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.
If you can’t find pure pork fatback, sub in belly or some really fatty pork shoulder. 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.
Makes about 5 pounds
- 3 pounds venison
- 1 pound pork shoulder or belly
- 1 pound pork fat back
- 34 grams salt (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 grams Instacure No. 1 (optional)
- About 10 bay leaves, ground to a powder
- 25 grams minced fresh garlic (about 2 tablespoons)
- 10 grams ground black pepper (about 2 teaspoons)
- 3 grams celery seeds (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup red wine (I used Zinfandel)
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 25 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 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 fine 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, the other direction. 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 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.