Food: Home Cookin'24 Jan 2010 09:38 am

I have to admit, I’ve always been cautious when it comes to sausage. I mean, I love it, but I can only eat so much. Perhaps this is because I can’t stop thinking about all the bad that comes with the good. It’s salty, it’s full of fat, it’s often smoked which isn’t that good for you either. There are nitrates and preservatives…and it’s so filling! Despite all these negatives, I am Ukrainian, so I grew up around rings of garlicky kielbasa and do enjoy dried sausages when hiking.

But: I am no sausage addict.

Mike has been discussing wanting to make sausage for some time. We have a lot of extra bits of deer meat from the bucks he shot this fall perfect for making into sausage. There are places in town that will make sausage for you out of game meat, so we considered dropping it off there and coming back to collect the links later. But, the more reading Mike did, the more interested he was in developing his own recipe, and in smoking his own meats. I have to admit when he said “I am going to make sausage” I envisioned this classic scene from Seinfeld:

So, we went to get a Bradley digital smoker a few weeks ago, and it’s been non-stop meat at the house since. Ribs, chicken and yes: sausage. We purchased the smoker at BBQ Country.

bbq country

BBQ country is a pretty great place. In addition to many BBQ models, there is a wide selection of BBQ tools, wood chips, sauces, rubs… anything the avid BBQer needs.

bradley digital smoker

The smoker is about the size of a bar fridge, and is happy living on our condo patio. It doesn’t make all that much smoke, but it really billows out when you open the door. It’s completely automated, with a special loader for wood chip “pucks”, a timer and a bunch of other settings I am completely unaware of. Mike is the smokemaster.

bbq country

bbq country

bbq country

In addition to the smoker, we also needed a few other specialty items, such as:

  • pork back fat (to add to the lean venison)
  • sausage casing
  • sausage press
  • meat grinder
  • smoke sticks
  • spices
  • measuring equipment: thermometers, scales and tape measures

Most of these items were purchased at CTR Refrigeration & Food Supply in Edmonton (10456 170 Street). The meat grinder we already had, but a few stops at the butcher and Home Depot and things were completely set up. And that is where I took my leave from the process and the men took over.

sausage press animation

There were two days of sausage making, with a knackwurst and hunter sausage being the final products. Here, Mike and Evan are trying to get the first sausage coil going. Things went pretty smoothly over all, with a few bursts and air pockets, but nothing too out of hand. I do know our kitchen is probably  too small for three tall men to be making sausage in, though.

I can’t speak much to the steps, but seems having the right grind on the meat and keeping the meat and equipment very cold (pre-grinding and during pressing) seemed helpful, and that there was a lot of cutting of meat, and double grinding of meat.

s06

I think that hog casings were used. They come packed in salt, for sterilization and preservation, so you have to soak them and rinse them thoroughly before using them.

venison sausage

venison sausage

venison sausage

venison sausage

venison sausage

Before the sausages smoke, they must hang overnight to develop a pellicle. This is a sticky surface for the smoke to stick to.

venison sausage

Then, they smoke.

venison sausage

After a few hours (depending on flavour desired) the hot sausages are plunged in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

venison sausage
Oh god, so good. Paprika laden venison knackwurst with braised red cabbage and bacon, and tarragon potatoes.

The sausage is unlike anything I’ve ever had. It’s got a crispy snap when you bite into it, and the inside is at once juicy and substantial. The venison is a great flavour, and any dryness is tempered by the pork fat. The smoke adds depth, and the spices are strong, but not overwhelming. This is no supermarket sausage. It’s not even deli sausage.

I guess you could now call me a bonafide sausage lover, since I can not stop thinking about it.

4 Responses to “homemade sausage”

  1. on 24 Jan 2010 at 6:17 pm H.Peter

    Very impressed. I do love sausages. Almost all sausages. but never yet thoguht about making them.

    I have to look into this smoker. Did you enjoy the other foods smoked?

  2. on 24 Jan 2010 at 6:45 pm Kelly

    H.Peter: We have had smoked chicken (amazing as chicken salad sandwiches) and ribs as well in the past 10 days we have owned the miracle box. Next up Mike plans to do brisket.

    The Bradley is amazing. My father prefers to smoke the old-fashioned way, fussing over temperatures, wood chip size and such on a BBQ smoke box. The Bradley takes away from that sort of experience, but the results are
    no less delicious. You also have the added benefit of “setting it and forgetting it.”

    The two minor quibbles seem to be the cleaning of it and the fact that you are limited to using the Bradley wood chip pucks. They have plenty of flavours however, so it might only bother the most demanding of BBQ aficionados.

    It comes down to a matter of budget and cooking style preference, really. But the flavour speaks for itself.

  3. on 26 Jan 2010 at 11:26 pm habanerogal

    Have you thought of smoking almonds or other weirder stuff? The sausages look amazing great job !

  4. on 28 Jan 2010 at 8:23 pm A Canadian Foodie

    Good for you! Wowsers! I have always wanted to do this – but Vanja isn’t too excited. He has done it most of his life, before moving to Canada. A bnch of his friends got a pig the first few years we were together… and they cured the entire thing – then smoked a lot of it – but got the Hungarian Grocer to smoke it – from Budapest Deli… it was heavenly… but they stopped doing it. I am trying to talk him into doing it again so I could learn… and this sausage making has really got me going. Total control of your ingredients. Yummmmm. I want to come to dinner!Where’s your recipe? ­čÖé