Not so fast on the class dismissed, Redhealerdog!
My self-taught sausage smoking class using a WSM.
(I am satisfied that I have learned the basic steps of selecting meat, grinding and stuffing sausages, but am not satisfied with the cooking process.)
Your comments, constructive criticism encouraged. Here is what I have learned:
1. Dry sausage for 1 hour @ temperature not to exceed 135 degrees F.
2. Smoke for 1.5 - 2.0 hours at 135 degrees F.
Note: The surface of sausages must NOT be wet during the smoking process.
3. Cook for 1.0 hour @ 150 degrees F.
4. Increase temperature in 10-degree stages until the interior sausage temperature of 154 degrees F is reached.
My experience has been that when smoking at temperatures of 160 - 170 degrees, the sausage interior temperature stalls at around 126 - 127 degrees.
My understanding is that the interior meat temperature trails the smoker temperature by about 25 degrees - if true, then a smoker temperature of 180 degrees must be obtained to assure sausage is fully cooked. However, I've also read that when smoking, the inside temperature of the smoker cannot exceed 170 degrees F for any extended period of time, because the fat begins to melt.
5. Water pan with water or empty? I understand one of the functions of the water pan is as a heat sink, and if water is used, provides humidity and improved temperature control. However, reading the various forums, I find that play sand or clay pot saucers are used as heat sinks. What are the "experts' opinions" on the water pan when using the WSM smoker for sausage? How much humidity is recommended for cooking the sausage once smoke has been applied?
Your comments, constructive criticism encouraged.