Well, I'm dang near out of the Smoking Gun jerky rounds from my last 10 pound batch, so I figured I would make sticks for a change. I bought a AC Legg #116 kit from "Ask the Meatman" on Amazon a while back and this seemed like a good time to open it up. Kit came with a bag of the #116 snack stick mix, a small bag of cure (cure and seasoning are not pre-mixed), and three 15 meter, 19mm diameter collagen casings for making up to 25 pounds of sticks.
Here is the recipe I'm using today. Starting with the basic #116 mix and tweaking it a little by adding honey, jalapeno powder, and some B&P special binder (phosphates) for added moisture retention. Just before stuffing I will add in a little ice water to loosen up the mix and finish off with some encapsulated citric acid for that certain twang. Recipe is for a 5 pound batch. Measurements are all in grams (except meat) for precision:
AC Legg #116 Jalapeno Honey Snack Sticks
- 5 pounds of 80/20 ground chuck
- 105 grams of AC Legg #116 snack stick seasoning
- 5.7 grams of Cure #1 (I'm using up the rest of my LEM cure)
- 142 grams of Honey
- 11.3 grams of Butcher & Packer "special binder" (AmesPhos or other sausage phosphates will work)
- 5.8 grams of Jalapeno powder (from Savory Spice Shop)
- 1/4 cup of water to dissolve the cure in and mix with meat.
Mix the above and then put into the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld and the cure do it's thing. The next day, just before stuffing and smoking add:
- 17 grams ECA (encapsulated citric acid)
- 1/2 cup ice cold water - I used a little less, but base actual amount on the "wetness" desired of the mix for stuffing
I love this "postage" scale. I don't know how I ever made sausage without one of these. If you do not have one, it's worth the $25 or so to pick one up on Amazon (and they have higher capacity ones).
80/50 ground chuck weighed out (tare out the bowl)
AC Legg #116 seasoning mixed with the Jalapeno powder, and B&P special binder; cure #1 mixed with water; measured honey. I figured I would use of the last of my LEM 17mm mahogany collagen casings also. "Notes" with weights also shown.
All mixed up and put into container for an overnight rest in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld and the cure do it's thing. This stuff is pretty dang sticky due to the "special binder".
Fast forward to the next morning. Time to add the ECA, stuff and smoke. I have noted that ECA from different suppliers will sometimes recommend a different amount per pound of meat. I'm using up what's left of my LEM ECA and their ratio is 3 ounces of ECA to 25 pounds of meat. I'm making 5 pounds, so it was 0.6 ounces or 17 grams (ignore my sticker on the ECA container as that is a 1/2 or minimum load of ECA at 1.7 grams per pound. I'm going full strength on these sticks). Oh, and if you do not have a gram scale with 1/100th of a gram precision, they are also inexpensive and essential when weighing amounts for small batches. I also like to verify calibration before each use.
Prepped the e-WSM (WSM with an electric element & PID controller mod), loaded one of Todd's pellet trays with Pitmaster blend pellets, and then stuck the tray and pellets in the convection oven for 20 minutes at 200* (on convection) to dry them out. No photos of that or the stuffing as I was working by myself and got pretty sticky loading the stuffer.
I usually stuff the 17mm casings and feed them onto a turntable or lazy susan which the wife turns and coils the sticks on (one continuous length of stick. I cut them to length for smoking after stuffing). I was by myself and could not find her turntable (it the one she uses for cake decorating). So, plan "B" was cut them as I go. BAD IDEA. I also remembered why I'm not a fan of 17mm casings. They are a booger to get onto even the 3/8" LEM stainless tube, and cutting them as I went instead of at the end was causing meat to leak out the end of each new section (not tied). Tried twisting the collagen, but that was a no go also due to blowouts. OK, get the 19mm casings from the kit loaded and rock on. Like I said, sticky so no photos.
I did make a test patty with the meat left in the stuffing tube and it was spot on. Excellent moisture retention and perfect twang. Meat is cooked through, pink color is from the cure when it cooked.
Onto the e-WSM for a 4 step smoke. 2 hours at 135*, 2 hours at 145*, 1 hour at 155*, and finish at 165* until done. The AUBER PID controller has up to 6 pre-programmable steps and is perfect for this. I did not bother with drying the casings like I would with natural as they were collagen. Also went with smoke from the pellet tray from the start (about 1/2 tray lit from both ends). Should get 3-4 hours out of that. The 17mm casings were mahogany and the 19mm are the clear ones. Two grates spaced with two blocks of cut 2x4.
At the end of the 155* cycle this is where they are. Good color from the smoke.
I'll post finished photos later....