I spent quite a bit of time looking into using my new MES 30 Analog Smoker to make 10 lbs of venison summer sausage (VSS). Well after "harvesting" all of the information on sites like this one I came up with a recipe that was sort of a blend of many. Along with writing down the recipe I also wrote down the full procedure, from start to freezer, for making my first batch of VSS.
The main issue was getting the needed smoke at the required temperatures, and for that I very recently purchased the A-MAZE-N wood pellet smoker (AMZNPS) to fill that need; which it did so perfectly I might add! So for Step 6, the smoking procedure, its written for a smoker that is already capable of smoking at lower temperatures. From what I've read I think most commercial electric home smokers are probably not capable of producing smoke, or enough smoke at least, at low temperatures . Most are actually more like BBQs that smoke at around 225F and not a cold smoker. Two rows of hickory pellets in the AMZNPS, lit at both ends, produced a beautiful heavy smudge of white smoke for a solid 3 1/2 hours and continued to produce a lighter smoke for another additonal hour, which seems to have been near perfect for this first attempt.
When I took the first taste of the VSS this morning I was very very happy with the results, in fact you might say I was amazed. Way better than I expected considering this was the first time I ever smoked anything, and with a more or less untested recipe. I took a half of a stick of the freshly smoke VSS along with some sharp cheddar and Vermont chedder to a sportsmans club I belong to at around noon today and it was gone in no time with several of the guys asking for the recipe. So I've since printed out copies of the below to give to them next weekend.
I did modify my smoker so it can hold a fourth rack as well as allow hanging of the sticks of sausage from some square tubing near the top.
If you have any questions on anything in this start of a thread please feel free to ask.
So without further blather here's a photo of my slightly modified smoker at the start of the smoking with the sticks of VSS hung and the AMZNPS smoking, the recipe, and the full process I used. I hope it helps anybody else who is completely clueless like I was when I first got interested in smoking meats:
Smoked Venison Summer Sausage Recipe, for 10 lbs
(Adapted from numerous venison summer sausage recipes by Pat Thompson, 12-11-12)
1) 6 lbs coarse ground venison
2) 4 lbs course ground fatty pork butt/shoulder
3) 3/4 cup + 1 tblsp low fat cultured buttermilk
(Cultured buttermilk will help give sausage its "tangy" flavor.)
4) 2 tblsp non-fat dry milk, for binder and additional lactose for fermenting
5) 2 tsp (0.40 oz) of Prague Powder #1
6) 4 tblsp + 2 tsp kosher salt, can substitute 4 tblsp of pickling salt
7) 2 tblsp whole mustard seed
8) 3 tblsp coarse ground black pepper
9) 4 tsp sugar, for fermenting to get tang.
10) 1 tblsp garlic powder
11) 1 tblsp onion powder
12) 2 tblsp paprika
13) 1 tsp ground marjoram
14) 1/4 tsp ground ginger
15) 1/4 tsp ground coriander
16) 1 tsp monosodium glutamate (optional), Same as Accent seasoning
1. First grind of the meat - Cut the meat into 1" cubes and put in freezer for 30 to 45 minutes to firm meat for grinding. Grind with coarse plate for proper texture. Always keep the meat cold (< 40o F).
2. Season the meat - Add all ingredients to ground meat and thoroughly mix by hand or with a meat mixer.
3. Regrind the meat before stuffing* - Regrind the meat with the coarse plate to assure the desired texture for stuffing and mixing of all the ingredients.
4. Stuff the sausage into casings - Keep meat cold (< 40o F) while stuffing. Stuff into synthetic or fibrous casings that are 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. A 2 1/2" dia. by 17" long stick will weigh about 3 1/2 lbs.
5. Cure the sausage at 40o F - Store sticks in the refrigerator and refrigerate at least overnight. Can be kept in refrigerator for up to three days. "Tang" of summer sausage will increase the longer it is refrigerated. I refrigerate mine for about two days. Do not let internal temperature get below 34o F or mix will not ferment. Active bacteria in the cultured buttermilk will metabolize (ferment) the added sugar and lactose in non-fat dry milk to lactic acid giving the summer sausage its characteristic "tangy" taste. You really won't "taste" any of the sugar that has not been metabolized but the sausage may seem to taste less salty than expected.
6**. Smoke the sausage in smoker - Preheat smoker to 120o F. Hang or lay sausage on racks in smoker, making sure the sticks are well separated from each other. Insert temperature probe into center of sausage near the middle of the smoker. Allow to dry for one hour with damper wide open at 120o F. Add wood chips (hickory is suggested) to the wood pan, close damper to 1/4 open, and increase smoker temperature to 150o F for four hours, add water to water pan and increase temperature to 170o F (Max) to finish cooking. While smoking add wood as necessary in 1/4 cup amounts and generate smoke for three to ten hours (suggest four or five hours for first try) depending on how "smoky" you want it to taste, continue cooking without smoke until internal temperature of sausage reaches 155o F. Some recipes recommend using a heavy smudge during the smoking process. A "heavy smudge" is produced using lots of heavy white smoke. This is difficult to do with most home smokers at 150o F unless you have an additional smoke generator attached to or within your smoker to produce the necessary level of smoke.
7. Stopping the smoking/cooking - To stop the cooking process once the sausage reaches an internal temperature of 155o F immediately plunge the sticks into ice cold water to drop the internal temperature to 100o F. You can also plunge the sticks into deep snow if present. I used the available snow and this cool down took about a 1/2 to 3/4 hour to complete.
8. Blooming: Dry the outside of the sticks with a towel and allow to further air dry while hanging at room temperature for a few hours to reach proper color and then store in a cooler or freeze. If wrapped in aluminum foil and butcher paper the sausage will stay fresh in a freezer for several months. Vacuum packing and freezing will insure freshness for up to a year.
*Note: You can grind the meat finer during the second grind if you prefer a finer texture to the summer sausage. I prefer a coarser sausage.
**Note: Most home smokers are not meant for low temperature smoking. You may need to purchase an additional low cost sawdust or pellet smoke generator, such as sold by A-MAZE-N Products, that is designed for cold smoking.