I made my first batch of snack sticks yesterday, and I ran across an issue I never had on larger diameter sausages.
I used store ground 80/20 chuck. The recipe did not call for a binder and I used buttermilk (as the water and powdered buttermilk) instead of fermento. The blending and stuffing went fine. I only had room for about a 5 hour smoking cycle, so I threw them in the smoker at about 120 for 4 hours (had to shut it down for the night at this point) and then finished them in the oven at about 200 for the last hour or so until the ones that seemed the least done when they went in the oven hit 155. I had dumped them all onto a baking sheet (in a pile) from the smoker and threw it into the oven.
About half of them came out perfect, the remaining half had areas where fat had pooled under the casing. I lost track of which ones these were with respect to the smoker and the oven when I took them out of the oven to chill them. Post bloom, I pulled the casing off of these and rinsed them off under hot water. They still taste pretty good, and will not go to waste.
I know this means that some of them got too hot at some point. But what I would like to know is if because of the smaller diameter, does one have to be extra careful about smoking temperatures for snack sticks?
Are temperatures above final internal temperature (like 200-225) strongly advised against? Once, when in a pinch, I cooked off some summer sausage at 225 until proper IT without the fat rendering out.
Does any fat typically run out of snack sticks while smoking (many had no holes in the casings and the ends were tied)?
Is it possible the large contact area between the baking sheet and some of the sausages caused "hot spots" on the sausages where the fat could render?
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!