Wild Game Summer Sausage Recipe

There are three main reasons I love summer sausage. First, it’s virtually indestructible. You can bring it along on backpack hunts and camping trips without having to worry about it going bad or getting crushed inside your backpack or cooler.

Second, I love it because it’s flavored heavily enough to hide the off flavors of rutty old bucks or black bears that have gotten themselves involved with less-than-ideal food sources.

Third, I love it because it tastes so damn good.

My two brothers and I have experimented with many summer sausage preparations over the years, and this is the best I’ve come up with. It’s based loosely on Michael Ruhlman’s method as described in his book Charcuterie. I’ll pack one of these sausages when I’m on overnight hunts, and I’ll eat it on pita bread along with mustard. It’s one of the best and simplest sandwiches you’ll ever taste on the hunt.

I make this sausage in 10-pound batches, but you could halve the recipe if you wanted to make just 5 pounds. I like to go with a 2-day ferment, so carve out a little extra time if you want your sausages to reach perfection.

Ingredients

8 lbs game meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 lbs pork fatback, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tbsp kosher salt
4 tbsp dextrose
2 tsp curing salt (often sold as pink salt # 1)
1-1/2   tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup Fermento
1 cup water
Four 2-1/2-by-18-inch collagen casings

Also works with

Deer, elk, bear, other large game animals

Method

1
  1. While keeping everything ice cold (see methods for fresh sausage), combine the game meat, pork fat, and all of the other ingredients except for the Fermento, water, and casings in a large bowl.
  2. Mix to combine with your hands. Work in small batches if you need to, and don’t be afraid to throw the meat back in the fridge or freezer, or into a cooler with ice, to get chilled again.
  3. Using the 1/4-inch plate on your grinder, grind the meat mixture into the bowl set over ice.
  4. Change out the grinder plate to the 3/16-inch plate and pass the mixture through the grinder again.
  5. Meanwhile, dissolve the Fermento in the water and stir with a spoon.
  6. Add to the ground meat mixture and again mix with your hands, or throw the meat mixture in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on low, until it’s all incorporated.
  7. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the meat, making sure there are no air bubbles. Then wrap the bowl with a second layer of plastic wrap and set it in the fridge for 2 days to ferment.
  8. Make a little test patty and cook it up in a  sauté pan to be sure you got the seasonings right. Adjust them if you didn’t. Then, using a sausage stuffer, stuff the sausage into the casings.
  9. Let the stuffed casings rest in the fridge to dry out for 1-2 hours.
  10. While the stuffed sausages are resting, soak a panful of applewood chips for 20 minutes.
  11. Preheat the smoker to 112°-130°.
  12. Set the pan of chips in the smoker. Lay or hang the sausages in the smoker.
  13. Smoke for about 60 minutes at this temperature, then raise the temperature to 180°.
  14. Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 150°, which will probably take 2-3 hours, depending on your particular smoker and the ambient temperature.
  15. Keep refilling the pan of apple wood chips as they get low.

When the sausages are done, let them hang at room temperature for 1 hour to cool, then wrap well and refrigerate. They can be frozen for several months.

Ingredients

8 lbs game meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 lbs pork fatback, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tbsp kosher salt
4 tbsp dextrose
2 tsp curing salt (often sold as pink salt # 1)
1-1/2   tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup Fermento
1 cup water
Four 2-1/2-by-18-inch collagen casings

Also works with

Deer, elk, bear, other large game animals