Shamelessly stealing this thread idea from hickorybutt in his Smoking Sausage 101 thread, as I am completely new to considering smoking sausage or snack sticks. I typically split a side of beef with the parents, and always seem to have so much ground beef left over and no sticks left, even when getting 40 pounds of sticks to start with from the local processor.
I've done a few weeks worth of light reading on the forums here (kudos to nepas boyko driedstick dave and so many others) and around the interwebs for some more information, however I'll be honest it's still a rather daunting task in just learning the basics and assembling the materials when compared to my typical smoke (pork butts, turkeys, chicken, ribs, or brisket) in my MES.
So here I am, hat in hands, hoping to pool some advice and leave a nice centralized beginner's guide for those looking to get started and who may run into the same issues (albeit a nice one) that I have, with more ground beef than I know what to do with.
Used the recipe found here for the Long, Slow Smoke for Tang ala 'Nepas'.
- Starting Materials
- Jerky gun or Sausage stuffer (suggestions on type/brand or where a beginner should start?)
- Hanging rack (seems necessary for a MES30 owner like myself, how to build/assemble one?)
- Hickory or Oak dowels purchased from local hardware store cut to fit smoker
- Casing (edible collagen casing vs natural? Supplier/store? Size for various applications?)
- Went with 21mm edible collagen for my first go, seems a bit more durable and forgiving
- Twine/string (necessary?)
- Going to personally use butchers twine as tie offs for bends, seems the best route
- Cure #1
Now I don't want to get to deep into all the individual seasonings, however I felt it is very necessary to underline the importance of key ingredients like Cure #1, as the danger of botulism seems to present to do without.
What are other starting materials a typical weekend smoker like myself may be overlooking?
- Initial Processing
- Timeliness is key (keep meat cold!)
- Let your seasoned liquid sit before mixing
- Mix and let rest vs. mix and load and let rest in the fridge
Anything I'm missing here? I've tried to compile what I see as 'best practice' from the various head honchos around, but definitely room for improvement.
- Load the casing to the tip and get it ready to receive meat
- Using the aforementioned jerky gun or sausage stuffer, press the meat down to try and remove all air prior to loading up the casing
- Personally spent the extra $10 to get the Barrel Stomper, seems well worth it
- Press the meat to the end of the tube, tie a loose knot, then press some meat into the casing until the air in the casing is gone then tighten the knot
- Alternative, tie the knot tight but poke a very small hole in the end for air to escape
- Best practice to load the entire casing and knot the end or pinch/twist off multiple times while loading? Need some experience to weigh in here
Not sure what the best practice is for the actual stuffing, is it better to load the entire casing and knot the end, or pinch/twist off multiple times while loading, or to use twine/string to tie off between for hanging purposes? Definitely need some experience to weigh in here.
- Start your Smokin'
- Get the sticks out and let em hang on the rack at room temp for about an hour, get your smoker up to speed at this time
- Start out low, 120-130 range, and hit the AMNPS for the overnight to facilitate the drying process on the casings and get that nice tang
- Bump the smoker in the morning up by 10 degrees every hour (not to exceed 170), keeping an eye on the IT until it hits the 152 mark.
- Pull em and hit em with the ice bath for 5 or 10 minutes to cool down
- Let air dry (bloom) for a few (2 to 3) hours
- Paper bag them in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours to help with excess moisture
- Follow up by vac sealing or enjoying!
Depending on your setup, this will obviously change, however as I use a MES30 and so many others seem to here, thats what I wrote it towards in mind.
Please, dissect, critique, pick apart and enhance on the above for me, as I'm itching to give this a try and as well to keep this up to date and in place as a good write up for the future. Thanks again!
Follow up #1:
As mentioned above, I decided to jump in, however one goal was to keep my upfront cost reasonable. I managed to purchase the following for just under $100 as of 10/13/14, and it should get me through my first couple smokes to figure out how my sticks are turning out and if I want to pursue further.
- LEM Jerky Cannon
- LEM Jerky Cannon & Gun Barrel Stomper
- LEM Jerky Cannon 3/8" ID Stuffing Tube - 6"
- LEM 21mm edible collagen casings
- Prague Powder (Cure #1/Pink Salt)
- High temperature cheese
- Hickory dowels
Edited by nrdk - 12/8/14 at 8:13am