Snack Sticks- Venison with A.C. Legg

Discussion in 'Wild Game' started by browneyesvictim, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    So, I've just about finished processing my mule deer and now on to making a batch of sticks out of the trim. I usually make jerky out of whatever isn't steak. Now, the Mrs. just indulged me with an early Birthday present with a Cabelas 5# sausage stuffer (LEM re-badge). [​IMG]

    Here is my plan:

    I'm going to go with the A.C.Legg recipe pretty much as-is with just a couple modifications with 19mm LEM Collagen casings.

    Coarse grind

    - Mix water, cure & add seasoning

    - Grind (fine)-

    - Stuff

    - Refrigerate 24 hours

    - Smoke (bump up method) to I.T. of 160'

    - rest

    - eat/package.

    The venison trim I have is VERY (~95%) lean and have 6 lbs of Pork Butt ready to go with it.

    Here are my questions:

    1. I'm aiming for a 70/30 venison to pork (14 lbs. venison to 6 lbs. of butt). I'm concerned there still wont be enough fat content at this ratio because of how lean I trim my venison considering the Pork Butt is only bringing ~80/20. Would it be worth picking up 5# of pork back fat to even out the mix for a full 25# batch? When I see ratios like this its confusing if recipes are talking about the venison/pork ratio or lean/trim ratio and not to assume and fall into the trap that the pork is added for the additional fat!

    2. The recipe/instructions for the snack sticks call for water to meat ratio of 1 lb. of water for every 10 lbs. of meat (cold of course). Any issues with using beer instead for added flavor?  

    I wasn't planning on adding any Amesphos or ECA or NFDM, but might be persuaded by those with the knowledge and experience.

    Any comments welcome. I will post in-process q-view... stay tuned...
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  2. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Try to keep your IT of the meat between 151-152, 160 could be reaching a fat-out issue. Yes you can use beer, i flatten beer out before adding as the seasoning will make it foam up.

    Amesphos is a moisture retention, ECA will give you a tang (careful to much ECA will turn your meat white and mushy) nfpdm will retain some moisture, bind and  give you a creamy taste (not milky)
  3. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Thanks nepas.
    I will heed the advice of 151 to 152. I have no idea why the A.C.Legg recipe calls for 160 I.T.
    Again, I wasn't planning on using Amesphos, ECA or NFDM. I have no idea what this mix will be like as-is.
    Does the fat/lean look about right for snack sticks?
    Another thing I noticed is there is no call for a water bath for these snack sticks. I don't know if that is typical for snack sticks or just this recipe. Makes sense that you would want them more of a dry snap to them or what effect that will have on a collagen casing. My only experience has been with natural casings years ago.
  4. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The water bath stops the heat between the meat and casing, it will also reduce the wrinkled look (i knida like the wrinkle) if your collagen casings are fairly new you should have no problem with a snap. IMHO a snap is like a smoke ring (just for looks) snap dont make them taste any better, but thats just me.

    Lean to fat looks good for 25lbs.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  5. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    i personally think 30% pork butt will make a lean snack stick for my tastes... the butts i've been getting are very shy of the old 20% you could count on but lets say it's 20%. 30% x 20% = 6% of the total sausage + 70% venison that is ~5% is 3.5% so you will have 9.5% fat.

    a lot of people swear by 70/30 venison to pork butt and some people like 90/10 ratio for snack sticks so this might be subjective, but i like a minimum of 20% fat.
  6. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Not sure Im following your math... but I think we are talking about 2 different things 1- fat/lean ratio and 2. venison/pork ratio

    Fat ratio:

    With 14 lbs of 100% lean venison (actually not quite) to that I will add 5 lbs of pork fat back to make 19 lbs of 28% grind. To that I will add 6# of ground pork shoulder (assuming its 80/20) for a total of 25#. The average difference between the two grinds should put it near 25% but definitely not 9.5% total fat

    Venison/pork ratio:

    6 lbs. of shoulder + 5 lbs. of pork fat= 11 lbs. of pork to 14 lbs. of Venison= 56/44 venison/pork ratio.
  7. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    !. think your ratio is off a little bit for a 70/30 mix... I come up with 4.2 lbs of pork for 14 lbs of Venison ... Your ratio is close to a 50/50 mix ... FOR ME, I think I'm going to try my next batch at 80/20 .... but also, I did summer sausage instead of sticks with the venison... I used the left over pork for sticks... I used NFDM at a ratio of 1/2C per 5 lbs of meat...
  8. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    Sorry, i must have miss understood. I thought you were questioning if the extra pork fat was necessary ontop of adding pork butt at a rate of 30% pork butt to 70% venison. I think 70%venison to 30% pork butt is lean for my tastes without the added pork back fat.

    6 pounds pork butt to 14 pounds venison is actually 1/3 pork butt to 2/3 venison which is 33.3 pork butt to 66.7% venison but pretty close to the 70/30 venison/pork butt.

    14 pounds of 95% lean venison = .7 pds of fat
    6 pounds of 80% lean pork butt = 1.2 pds of fat

    18.1 pds lean to 1.9 pds fat which is 9.5% fat (1.9 pds fat/20pds) Adding pork fat is a good idea IMO... what percentage of fat to shoot for as ideal is subjective... adding 5 pounds of pork fat to your 14 pds venison and 6 pds pork butt would give you 6.9 pds fat (1.2 pds from the pork butt, .7 from the venison and 5 pds of pork back fat) to 18.1 pds lean (13.3 from the venison and 4.8 from the pork butt) or 27.6% fat (6.9 pd fat/25 pds total multipled byt 100) which would be a nice ratio IMO

    but that would give you 11 pds of pork (6 pds pork butt +5 pds prok back fat) to 14 pounds venison which is 44% pork or 44/55 pork to venison, but not 44% fat to lean because pork butt is not 100% fat, it is 20% fat.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  9. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

  10. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    I did some editing to hopefully clean up what i was trying to say i believe my math is right, but my overall point is. Adding the 5 pounds back fat ontop of 6 pds pork butt to the 14 pounds venison should be a nice amount of fat at 27.6 fat to 72.4% lean.

    However some people think a lean snack stick is good and skipping the back fat and keeping the butt will get you damn close to 90/10 (90.5/9.5 to be exact if the pork butt is truely 80/20) and will keep you extremely close to the 70/30 venison to pork (66.7/33.3 to be exact) if that is important to you.
  11. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm a little late to the party, but I'll throw my two cents worth in.....

    NEPAS is the man when it comes to sticks, and what he says is the word of the man.....

    I've made beef and pork mix sticks with the AC LEGG #116, but the last 50 pounds or so I've made this year have all been from 80/20 ground beef from Sam's Club (pre-ground at the store that morning, yes I'm getting lazy in my old age).  I'm very happy with the 80/20 mix of meat to fat and the results I get using just the ground beef. I would recommend you shoot for that ratio in your mix of venison and pork.  Or go with venison and fatback (venison as sole source of meat) in the same ratio.  That might be easier to calculate instead of estimating the amount of fat in the pork and trying to work it out.

    I also have taken to using Butcher and Packer "special phospate binder #414" which is their version of AmesPhos.  I go at about 70% of their recommended amount and find the moisture retention and mouth feel is perfect for sticks.  I've made lean sticks without phosphates and the mouth feel is different and they can almost be like dehydrator sticks sometimes. IMO, more fat would be better if not using phosphates, or you could use NFDM like NEPAS said.  To me, the best moisture retention and mouth feel comes from the use of the correct ration of a phosphate binder, but make a batch without before you try that trick.

    If you are a fan of the sour twang of slim jim sticks, then ECA can help you attain that pretty easily.  If in the future you do use ECA, just make sure to blend it by hand right before stuffing, don't stuff with a grinder, and start the smoking process as soon as the stick as stuffed. ECA can pretty much wreck the meat if you overwork the capsules and break them (like stuffing with a grinder will do), or if you let it sit too long before smoking and cooking the sticks.  I never take my sticks over 154* internal max and run my PID controlled electric stick smoking e-WSM mod at 165*.  Yes it takes a while to get to that magic 152* number, but fat out can also ruin the texture of the meat so your patience will be rewarded.   Beer is a great substitute for water as you just want some liquid to help loosen the mix.  Also I mix everything but the ECA and then let the meat sit in a container in the fridge for 24 hours before adding the ECA and stuffing.  I also add some additional ice cold liquid when I add the ECA to keep the mix loose as I'm stuffing in a 3/8" metal tube (also my stuffer has the nylon gears and I don't want to put too much pressure on them when stuffing so I like a moist mix).

    As to the AC LEGG #116, it's a great base mix.  I like to add a little honey and some jalapeno powder for a little bit of mild heat on the back end.  The last 3 batches I've smoked have been over straight hickory pellets.  I usually load the pellet tray with two rows and light both ends.  Some people like to let the stick dry for a couple of hours before applying smoke, I've been very happy with my results, but either way will work.  That heavy smoke lit from both ends usually burns out in about 2.5 to 3 hours.   If this is your first run withe AC LEGG, I would go with as in the directions and modify the next batch if you want to tweak the flavor some.

    After the sticks are done, let them cool on a rack for a few hours to overnight.  I then cut them to length and put them in brown paper bag for that final flavor profile to develop.  I keep what I can eat in the fridge and the remainder are vacuum packed and will be either refrigerated or frozen depending on the amount of sticks I made in that batch.  Between my kids and co-workers, I find that a 5 pound batch does not even make it to the next weekend.  Its strange that grown kids who have moved away will drop by to "visit" like clockwork if you have the wife mention "daddy made snack sticks" on facebook.

    I have had some casings that stuck to the meat just fine and some that were loose.  If they are loose, I just peel them.  I've had some that loosened after they were vacuum packed and again I just peel them before taking to work, etc....   I think the quality of the bond of the meat to the casing has more to do with freshness of the casing.  The LEM casings you find at Bass Pro, Cabelas, and Gander Mountain seem to be the ones that separate the most (I'm lucky and have all 3 stores within reasonable driving distance of the house and office if I need a last minute run).

    I've got some clear casings that came with my last batch of LEGGS #116 which I bought as a kit from The Sausagemaker on Amazon, and those have been sticking nicely.  I've also heard good things about the Walton's casings.

    Ok, I'll stop rambling and let someone else talk a while....

    Oh, and use the search function for NEPAS' posts on snack sticks and here are a few of mine where I used the AC LEGG #116 and ground beef:
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  12. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A way to test if your collagen casings are good.

    Take a small piece and rub it on a paper towel. You should have a slight oily spot on the towel from the oils in the collagen. If you have no oily spot more than likely your casings are dried out. A simple fix is to zip bag the casings, leave the bag open and place in fridge a day before you stuff. This is conditioning. Yes i have wet the casings before but your chances of a casing blow out increase.
  13. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Thanks folks, for the input- especially nepas and Dward51- Them are some great looking sticks! I especially like the consistency and look of your grind.

    This confirms what I guess I already knew, but good to have the affirmation. I stopped by a local butcher yesterday and picked up 5lbs. of pork fat. It’s ironic they were busy cutting a bunch of it up when I walked in. They too were processing a bunch for wild game and were hesitant to give me any because they needed all they had! A little politeness and a $1.50 a pound later and I’m out the door feeling like I just robbed the place. Into a cooler of ice it went until I got home.

    Last night was a long knock-down-drag-out with the grinder. I’ve got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the grinder attachment.  I also have additional grinding plates for it than the two small ones that come with it. So, in goes the ½” coarse grind plate and after a couple of minutes the KA mixer decides to quit on me! 12 years old and never had an issue (or maintainence), but It told me it needed attention. Thanks to the internet, I found a step-by step to pull it apart, clean it and re-grease it. This was an unplanned detour from sausage making, but glad I did it, and the thing works like a champ again! (Tip- If you have a KA mixer and have never taken it apart-YOU NEED TO! I couldn’t believe how nasty it was in there with the old grease and buildup of old dough goo under the snout.)

    To summarize… It was well after midnight, but I got all 25# of the grinding done, seasoned, cured, mixed and reground fine. It is now sitting in the fridge till tonight where I will have a party with my new sausage stuffer! One small point of correction I might point out is that I got the whole A.C. Legg Kit with their clear casings- not the LEM casings like I thought (said)I did.  Another thing I will mention is the little packet of cure #1 that comes with this kit did not measure up to exactly 1 oz. Good thing I have a 2# bag of Anthonys Cure #1! Sorry, I didn't get any picture of the 5# of fat, finish ground mix or the carnage left behind from the mess. It was late.

    Happy Birthday to me!!!

    A.C.Legg #116 kit with 19mm collagen casing, Anthonys Cure #1 Cabellas 5# stuffer drying (after sanitizing out of box)

    14 lbs of lean venison

    6 lbs pork shoulder

    2.5 lbs beer going flat to add cure and seasoning to.
  14. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    BEV, Looking good!, I think that 80/20 beef is about the same as 70/30 venison/pork. Your sticks will be great!
  15. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    All stuffed and ready for the smoker. Going to have to multiple batches in the MES30. Cases were great! Stuffer was great! A small test patty meets my approval!

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  16. klutzyspuds

    klutzyspuds Meat Mopper

    Brown eyes, some good lookin sticks. Would love to see the finished product. Have never tried Legg seasonings, but may have to look into getting some before the meat hits the ground here in WI. Good job..
  17. browneyesvictim

    browneyesvictim Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Yes. Sorry for not getting back to this sooner… so here it is! The sticks came out G-R-E-A-T! They wouldn’t all fit in the smoker at once so I had to do them in 3 batches. First two were smoked with cherry chips and the third was Todd’s pecan pellets in the A-Maze-N. You can definitely notice the difference in color in the batch on the right. All 3 batches went on schedule up to 152’ IT. If I had any critique, I think I would have liked a little stronger smoke flavor and a little longer dry time. The A.C. Legg seasoning is pretty good. There is good flavor and just a perfect tickle of heat at the end that kicks in. If I were to add or modify anything to my preference, I think I would add a little cracked fennel seed. But that’s just me.

    Netted 14 packages of 1-1/2 lb for some folks that are NAUGHTY as well as NICE…

    nepas and wbf610 like this.
  18. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice job on those sticks.

  19. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Super sticks, Sir!

  20. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Excellent job on the sticks!!!  Welcome to the addiction of snack stick making [​IMG]

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