Mission accomplished….my first summer sausage batch is completed! I want to thank everyone on the forum that answered my unending first timer questions which really helped make this a fun effort. As promised, here’s how it went.
Not being sure of what spices or recipes are close to our taste in summer sausage, I ended up using a spice mix from Excalibur. I believe it was the H Summer mix. I also decided, with input from the forum, to use 80/20 ground chuck instead of grinding my own beef. I am looking forward to putting the old Universal grinder to work one of these times as I got a number of new plates for it.
I mixed up the spices and Sure Cure using the proportions recommended by Excalibur into ¼ cup of cold water and then mixed in with the ground chuck.
I wasn’t sure whether to cure the mixture overnight in a covered bowl, or stuff it first and let the stuffed sausages cure overnight, ready to go. After more questions to the forum, I ended up letting the beef cure in a covered bowl in the fridge.
The next morning after at least 20 hours curing, I soaked the fibrous casings I got in water for about 30 minutes, prepared the smoker (MES30), and got the stuffer out. After a number of tries figuring out the best way to secure the stuffer (can’t use the wife’s granite countertop!), I started stuffing the 5 pounds of meat into 12” 2 ½ casings. The stuffing went fairly well except my first one I overstuffed and didn’t have enough end to twist. Getting that resolved, and fumbling with the hog ring pliers I got (which ended up being a ring size too big) I got them done. Worked out to 4 sausages and a little left over. I saw a post on the forum where a guy just wraps the mixture with cheese cloth and bakes for 4 hours. Might try that with the leftover.
The next decision was whether to hang the sausages at room temp for a couple hours or put them in the smoker at 120° without smoke for an hour. Both ways have been presented on the forum. I chose to put them in the smoker.
After an hour at 120°, I brought the temp of the smoker up to 150° and got the AMNPS fired up. The one issue I continue to fight is getting the AMNPS to stay lit even with the MES chip loader removed but that’s another story!
As I’ve seen on a number of posts, I brought the temp up to 170° over the next hour or two and continued to work on keeping the smoke up. It took a while, longer than I had expected for some reason, but I kept the smoker going until the summer sausages got to an IT of 153°. I’ve seen anywhere from 150° to 155° IT so I split the difference. I immediately put the sausages in ice water and brought the IT down to 100° which took about 30 minutes. The casings looked just a bit wrinkly but not bad. I’ve seen store bought summer sausage look worse.
Once at the 100° mark, I dried the sausages and hung them at room temp for about 2 ½ hours. I was happy to see that after the blooming period, the casings smoothed out and the sausages looked and felt like I thought they should.
At that point, I put them in the fridge and finally got to bed. This morning, I couldn’t wait so I took one and sliced it up. The moment of truth and I was really happy to see the perfect color and firmness.
The casing came off the sausage cleanly and my first taste told me I had succeeded!!
While the flavor was very good, it was a bit too salty for my taste and missing the tangy flavor I’m used to from the summer sausage I got in Wisconsin…The smoke flavor was just about right on. I like my summer sausage a little courser, so I think my next try I’m gonna grind my own beef, once I figure out the best cut to use. I think I may look at more recipes for spices here on the forum as well to see what might be a bit closer to what I’m used to.
Bottom line, I’m very happy with my first effort with many more to come!