My son-in-law and I had the opportunity this weekend to mix up 25 lbs of LEM Backwoods SS and make a first time attempt at smoking it in our Master Forge gassers.
We're still in the learning curve after updating our smokers with some heavy duty steel plates. We loaded both smokers with SS.
For the most part I'm pleased with both the performance of the smoker and the outcome of the summer sausage.
I would love some feedback on the mixed results we experienced tho.
Hanging in the smoker we were able to get four 20 inch long chubs in each smoker. In hindsight I think we could pack it a bit tighter if we used shorter casings. Due to the length we were very restricted in space. We had to raise the top rack to have it rest to the bolts near the roof. Even then only four would fit near the center so as not to hit the side flanges above the water pan.
The other thing we'd do differently is use the clear casings. I think we'd have a better time seeing progress. Cook time started around 1pm. We kept temps as low as we could, around 140 for an hour, then bumped to 150 for another couple hours. Finally for the home stretch we moved up to 170 and settled there. Total cook time was about 11 hrs.
I have to say. In spite of the 20 mph winds we had here Sunday, and dropping temps all day, the smokers held their temps remarkably well. We were able to fine tune with the side vents and temps never varied more than a degree or two. I would attribute this mostly to the nearly 70 lbs of extra plate metal that has been added to the interior. Lots of mass = steady temps.
I decided for this cook to try my genius new location for the AMPS as well. Location may be wonderful but if it doesn't work, well, not so genius.
Lower door of the Master Forge, complete with AMPS mod location
The idea behind this modification was that dropping the AMPS tube into a perfectly sized cradle right on the front door would make for easy maintenance and refilling. Further, I thought I could avoid the flame ups and quick burns associate with placing it on the left side of the burner near the exterior vent. Great idea, but all mods are not created equal and the issue with this one is I could not keep the tube lit. Even if I left the door open to get a good burn going it would dwindle and die once I sealed it up. I guess there is just too little oxygen in that location. I haven't entirely given up yet. I may work on adding ventilation holes slightly below the tube. When not in use I'll set up a sliding metal plate to cover the holes. But I digress.
The summer sausage took far longer than I expected. I guess mostly because this was our first attempt at SS and I had no baseline. Around mdinight we finally hit 155. It was pretty interesting that both smokers hit temp within about 10 - 20 minutes of each other. The ET-733 was fantastic to have. It allowed me to watch the chamber temp and internal temp of one of the chubs simultaneously. The alarm chimed as soon as I hit 155.
Finished product: Internal temp 155
I dropped them from the smoker right into the ice bath.
I monitored the internal temp and was surprised that it took over 10 minutes for the temps to drop below 105.
From there they went into the fridge overnight.
Here's where I need some feedback. The lower ends of the sausages had significant shrinkage and were quite a bit darker. The tops were perfectly shaped. My theory is the bottoms were victims of being closer to the heat source for so long in spite of the full water pan directly below them. I did switch over to apple wood chips half way thru, after my AMPS ran out. This may have contributed to more direct heat as well.
Here is the "south" end of the finished product. It tasted a bit meally and you can see it appears the fat likely rendered. Flavor was OK, but texture was not great.
Note the casing contraction and the lack of fat marbling.
The tops 80% of these same pieces couldn't look better:
The texture is perfect, and the flavor, while a tad less smokey is fantastic. I think only the bottom few inches will be an issue.
So what are your thoughts? I don't think we did too bad for a couple first timers at SS.
Shorter casings? Slower ramp up? Does anyone flip ends half way thru a cook? Other ideas.
I forgot to mention what we were cooking. This is a 70/30 venison/fatty beef mix. We ground it in a #5 Gander Mtn grinder and then stuffed it with our brand new LEM 5 lbs stuffer.
They both worked like a dream. With the stuffer we did in minutes what has taken us hours to do with just the grinder/stuffer.
The beef came from deboning some very tasty looking beef rib tips. My wife thought that was a bit of a tragedy but a sacrifice worth the cause.
I'm looking forward to all you experienced fella sharing your thoughts and wisdom.