1st Snack Stick run not good, Q-View & Questions

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by smoke happens, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    Along with some SS and Breakfast Sausage, I did my first run of snack sticks this weekend. I was very disappointed with the results but think I learned what went wrong and can fix it for next time. Looking for some pointers from the more experienced sausage guys on SMF, so here we go.

    Venison and pork fat ground and ready, using Cabela's (PS Seasonings) Snack Stick mix, added 1 Tbs Chipotle powder from Penzeys

    Stuffed into the collagen casings that came with the Cabela's mix. As you can see, I need LOTS more practice stuffing.

    Into the Warthog for the smoke. Tied some ends to the rack directly, had to spread due to the height limitations of the Warthog (Smokin-it #3). This is a drawback of this smoker, dedicated smokehouse may be on the wish list if I start doing a bunch more of this crazy sausage making. They are not touching the element roof, that's just the way the pic looks.

    Out of the smoker, here is where I really noticed problems. Different doneness and color.

    Out of the fridge the next morning, color and doneness differences very evident in these pics

    Trimmed up and vac sealed, 3 big bags into the freezer (for now at least)

    Some close-ups of the sliced sticks

    So, ugh, I'm not happy. Some of this was really well done and the other did not seem done enough for my taste. I probed the piece that was the farthest from the element with the Mav during the cook so I knew they were all at temp and "technically" done, but wow this is not cool. I think on these snack sticks I will just need to lay them flat on my racks instead of trying to hang them, that or make them really short and just do a little at a time. The ones that were really done were my favorite, obviously they were the ones or part of the sticks that were closer to the element. To make matters worse, I did not really care for this mix at all. If I had not added the Chipotle powder, I think I would have tossed this batch all together. That at least gives them some spice but the base flavor is just not that good. I will not be buying this mix again, that I do know. I think they will end up in Gumbo or soup at this point.

    Is it best to just lay the sticks flat on the racks and cook that way, maybe rotating part way through if needed? Anyone else have problems like this or have some solutions for me, snack sticks are a favorite of mine and I was really looking forward to making these and having a good end product. I'd like to find a mix/recipe that is good and that I can prepare in my Smokin-It # 3 without having these same results.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer up.
  2. bakedbean1970

    bakedbean1970 Smoke Blower

    I have done them 2 different ways. I have looped them over smoke sticks and hung them. But i prefer to lay them out in rows in the smoker. That way you can rotate racks if need be. I also do not use a water pan. I have found that sticks get that nice mahogany color as they dry out a bit. I also put the sticks in for an hour before smoke to prevent them from picking up too much smoke.
  3. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I think they look good...but the Sausage gang will fix you right up.  I am in for the answer too.  [​IMG]
  4. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The dis coloration is called bound water in the meat. This could be fixed by hanging the sticks for 1-2 hours at room temp before smoking.. The bound water will drip from the sticks and from the casings.
    smoke happens likes this.
  5. gamehawg

    gamehawg Newbie

    That uneven cooking will also come from the links touching, You want to have the hot air flowing over all surfaces.  making a link that loops over, tie with string and then you can keep them separated.  Like this


    Also a damper of some kind at the bottom to even out the heating, all your heats gonna come right up the middle.  rectangular pizza stone works good. 

    Try beef fat (flavor better for venison IMHO)  I call Tom Thumb and ask meat guys to reserve out 5 pounds and get it for free.

    Keep trying, smaller batch's will be easier to handle. Fry some up and see if you like the flavor, it gives you a chance to make a change. 
  6. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks like they did not dry enought for me, My sticks usually have some wrinkles in them [​IMG]  What was your smoking temp?? how long were they in there for?
  7. butcherfamily

    butcherfamily Fire Starter

    I have the same smoker and am having the same issues. There is a learning curve with every smoker and this one is somewhat steep. It is really a much differently engineered smoker than makes sense to me at least. I have come to accept that it is engineered for a novice and/or limited meat selection. That being said, I think after understanding the engineering of the unit, and modifications being made, it can provide very good results. I think my mistake was thinking that the manufacturer had created a smoker that would solve all my problems with gas smokers and all I would need to do is set and forget it.

    There is a reason that smoking is a century old art. The engineering of the process simply can not be ignored. Going back to basics and thinking about what meat you are smoking and what methods you use, you can determine if the smoker can provide the results you are looking for.

    What I have learned... The centuries old art has not been improved, think first, start smoking second.

    So... Long story short, the uneven temps are a design of the unit, period. As other said, you can modify the thermodynamics of the unit as necessary to prevent uneven cooking. It is not a magic box. Far from it.

    For me, the only benefit of buying the electric smoker is... Smaller and better temp control, nothing else whatsoever. Many additional things to deal with in return.
    Last edited: May 13, 2013

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