By Meredith Duke
Are You Ready For Some Delicious Deer Sausage?
In the previous two articles in this series I covered how to process a deer and how to cut up a deer in to the different cuts of meat. Now I will show you how to make venison sausage. The beauty of processing your own venison is that you get to determine what type of sausage your family will like. For us, we wanted to try a few different recipes. We typically make breakfast sausage, but this year I wanted something different, so we tried three different recipes; Italian sausage, farmer’s sausage, and breakfast sausage. The farmer’s sausage is very similar to Elgin sausage, which can be a little spicy and is great if it is smoked.
We like to use a 50/50 ratio of ground pork to ground venison. So, for every pound of venison you’ll use a pound of pork. This is completely subjective, though. You can use more pork to venison or more venison to pork. The pork adds fat to the sausage which is helpful when the sausage is cooked because the venison is incredibly lean and can make very dry sausage. To prepare your sausage, you’ll need to pull the cut and packaged venison from the freezer and let it partially thaw. You can either use the steaks, the stew meat, or the little pieces that were saved from when you processed the deer (see Deer Processing 201). You’ll also need to pull the ground pork from the freezer, too. Partially thawed meat is MUCH easier to clean and process than thawed meat.
Plus, it does not clog the grinder like thawed meat can. Something to keep in mind is that when we make venison sausage, we tend to purchase 10-12 packages of ground pork (which roughly equals 20-24 pounds of sausage when it’s all said and done).
Set Up Your Sausage Making Work Space
While the meat is thawing, it’s time to set up your work space. You’ll need:
- a meat grinder
- ground pork (how much pork depends on how much venison you are grinding)
- several bowls
- your spices and recipe(s)
- sausage stuffer (if you are making sausage links)
- a scale to weigh the meat (If you don’t have a scale that’s okay. I have an alternative method for measuring the meat.).
How to Make Venison Sausage in 5 Easy Steps
Our meat grinder is an attachment for the KitchenAid stand mixer. We have very limited kitchen space so the fewer gadgets we have the better. In addition, this meat grinder is perfect for what we do. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other meat grinders on the market and does a splendid job. And, I can keep it stored in its original box in the cabinet. Since we use the KitchenAid, our setup involves the mixer, with the grinder attachment installed and a bowl that sits directly underneath the grinder where the meat is pushed out of the machine. If you have a different type of grinder, your setup may be a little different from ours. Now is the time to get your work space set up so that it creates an easy flow from one step to the next.
Step #1: Grind the Venison Meat
It’s time to begin when the meat is partially thawed. Start with the venison and run it through the hopper at the top of the grinder. Use the stomper, a wooden device that pushes the meat through the chute into the grinder. DO NOT use your fingers or hands. It’s much safer to do it this way.
Step #2: Weigh and Measure the Deer Meat
Once the venison has been ground, either weigh the meat in one-pound increments or you can measure it our way. Most ground pork comes in one-pound packages. We don’t have a food scale so we empty one of the ground pork packages into a bowl and add ground venison to the empty pork package (without packing it down). We simply place the venison in the container until it looks like the pork did before we unwrapped it. It’s not an exact science and a scale would be much easier, but we use what we have on hand.
As I mentioned before, we use a 50/50 ratio of pork to venison. Using the recipe as a guide, determine how many pounds of meat are needed. Each of the recipes we used called for a total of 5 pounds of meat. We used 2.5 pounds of each for a total of 5 pounds. Divide the meat accordingly and set it aside.
Step #3: Creating Venison Sausage Patties
Pick a recipe (there are three links at the bottom of this post to get you started), gather your ingredients, and prepare the seasonings as directed. When everything is ready, mix it into the ground venison/pork. You can either use your hands and mix it all together, or you can mix it up really well and put it through the grinder once more. Either way you really need to incorporate the seasonings thoroughly into the meat mixture.
To eat right away, simple take a small ball of sausage, form into a patty, and cook over medium-heat on the stove (using a cast iron skillet works great). TIP: Always cook and taste a small portion of the sausage before packaging it so that you can adjust the seasonings if necessary. To store for the freezer, see Step #5 below.
Step #4: Creating Deer Sausage Links
Add a sausage stuffer to your meat grinder attachment. Follow the directions for your own meat grinder or sausage stuffer (as far as setting it up and using it). There are two types of casings, either hog/sheep casings or collagen casings. My preference is the hog/sheep casings simply because they are natural. Follow the directions on the casing package on how to prepare them. Soak them in water for a specified amount of time and later inse them with water to remove all the salt.
Once the stuffer is set up and the casings are prepared, slide a casing all the way onto the stuffer. Tie a knot at the end that is left. Now, the process is very similar to when you were grinding the meat. Add your sausage to the meat tray at the top. Turn on the machine and stuff the meat mixture through the grinder/stuffer. As the meat is expelled through the stuffer it will start to fill the casings. Carefully adjust the casings as they start to fill. We discovered that the best time to twist the casings (to make the links) is when the person filling the meat tray takes a break to add more meat.
Here are a few tips when creating venision sausage:
- It helps to have two people during this process. One for adding meat to the tray/stuffer and the other to handle the links and casings as the sausage is being made and stuffed.
- Go slow and steady so as to keep the air bubbles to a minimum.
- If you do have an air bubble, it will work its way out.
- Be gentle with the casings because they can break.
- If one breaks, stop adding meat. Turn off the machine and either push the meat back into the casing or make a new link at that point by twisting the casing.
- Above all else, remember that it takes practice. You won’t get it right the first time but eventually you’ll work out a system with your sausage buddy. It will still taste the same and you’re building memories at the same time.
When the links are made, place them on cookie sheet lined with paper towels. They will need to sit overnight in the refrigerator before you are ready to package them for the freezer.
Step 5: Preparing Your Freezer For Your Delicious Deer Sausage
Now that your sausage has been prepared either as links or as patties, wrap the sausage in freezer paper, tape it closed, label it, and place it in the freezer. You are done. Clean up and then relax. You’ve earned it.
Other Venison Sausage Recipes
Now that you know how to make sausage, go forth and make it! It’s really quite easy once you get the steps down. Yes, it takes time and is a lot of work. However, it’s all worth the effort when you take that first bite and realize how tasty it is and knowing that you did it with your own two hands. Very satisfying indeed. If you need to learn the basics of processing venison before making sausage please click here.
If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email or comment below. I love to hear from y’all!
Meredith Duke is a homesteading mama on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. She and her family are beekeepers, gardeners, hunters, and general “DIYers.” They are always seeking ways to expand their skills and learn the “old ways” whether it’s canning, quilting, or simply trying to find new ways to save money and be good stewards of their God-given resources. You can read more about the Duke family’s adventures at www.sangabrielfarm.com.