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Chipotle & Cheese Meat Sticks (Fermented Semi-Dry)

Saline_Smoker

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Chipotle & Cheese Meat Sticks (Fermented Semi-Dry)

THE RECIPE:
-----------------------------

This is basically a kabanosy-ish stick, with an added quick fermentation of a summer sausage for acid tang, seasoned to my personal taste, with the addition of cheese... so call it whatever you'd like!

Pork Butt = 3628g (8lb) (from Valley View Farms in Walkerville, MI)
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Kosher Salt (1.65%) = 59g
Cure #1 (0.25%) = 9g
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Nonfat Dry Milk Powder (0.5%) = 16g
Dextrose (0.5%) = 16g
Chipotle Pepper Powder (0.5%) = 16g (homemade w/ dehydrator)
Red Onion Powder (0.25%) = 9g (homemade w/ dehydrator)
Accent (0.25%) = 9g
Fresh Ground Black Pepper (0.15%) = 6g
Garlic Powder (0.15%)= 6g
Lava Jack High-Temp Cheese (12.5%) = 453g (from Butcher & Packer)
Ice-Cold Distilled Water (1.75%) = 64g/ml
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Room Temperature Distilled Water (0.5%) = 16g/ml
FL-C Starter Culture (0.025%) = 1g (but actually used 4g as 1g is pretty impossible to weigh out for such a small batch and over shooting here wont hurt anything/will put me on the safe side)

THE PROCESS:
-----------------------------

The night prior to starting, I deboned and cut up the shoulder into ~1.5" cubes with my helpful bud Felix. Weighed out the meat to 3678g (50g/~2oz heavy to account for what seems to be the inevitable grizzle loss that'll get stuck to the blade/auger), vacuum packed it and threw it in the fridge. Day of, I put the vacuum packs in the freezer to partially freeze the meat for ~1hr while I prepped everything else.

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Cleared some room in the fridge and freezer. Sanitized all the grinder parts, two mason jars, a spoon, the humidifier, fermentation chamber, and the meat lug using Star-San. Chilled the grinder parts in the fridge after sanitizing them until ready to grind. Wiped down and sanitized the countertops as well. Weighed out all my seasonings and blended them together in my spice grinder then set aside in a sealed bowl for later. Filled one mason jar with the 64g of distilled water and threw in the freezer. Set up the thermo/hygro readers and humidifier in the fermentation tub so it's ready to go in a few hours.

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I set up the grinder and ground 2/3 of the meat through the 10mm plate and the remaining 1/3 through the 5mm plate. (Note: I split it up this way since I stuff with my grinder. I find the additional once through the auger during stuffing tends to overdo it and create far too fine of a texture for me if I grind more through the fine plate). I sprinkle the salt, cure, and seasonings on to the meat in layers as I grind the meat. Put the grinder parts back into the fridge after grinding was complete to cool back down while I'd be mixing.

05.jpeg


Added the (frozen) cheese and ice-cold water to the ground meat and mixed by hand until everything was well incorporated (aka until my hands were numb, and then a little more) then threw it into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes while I warmed up my hands and had a beer.

Prepared the culture in the second sanitized mason jar with 18g of room temperature distilled water (I over poured the water a bit and just went with it) and allowed it to rehydrate for 2 minutes then thoroughly mixed with a sanitized spoon.

Added the cultured water to meat mixture and mixed everything again by hand until well incorporated (aka until my hands were numb, again).

Threw the meat mixture back into the fridge to cool down once again while I reattached the grinder parts and got myself set up for stuffing.

Stuffed into 24mm clear collagen casings using the grinder (wish I had a stuffer, see my Final Thoughts near the end). Linked the sticks every ~12".

06.jpeg


Unfortunately, I had three blowouts while linking them and basically lost a whole link's worth of sausage between the three explosions - never again with the collagen! They were on sale from Butcher & Packer, so I thought I'd give them a go instead of sheep casings as perfect uniformity seemed like a nice plus for snack sticks. I'm assuming I was just not gentle enough. That said, later I just fried up the loss with the stuffer tube/auger loss and added it to the au gratin potatoes we were having with dinner - waste not, want not!

Hung them inside my fermenting tub and fermented at 77º-79ºF for 28 hours, with a relative humidity of 81-99%. They pinked up nicely, and you can definitely smell the tangy sausage aroma throughout the house.

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After fermentation was complete, I cold smoked over Pitmaster's Choice pellets with the AMNPS for two and a half hours (67-72ºF, 71%-84%RH). However, it didn't dawn on me until I lit the pellets that all my smoke sticks are currently tied up in the drying chamber, so I had to improvise and take apart a wire shelf unit we had in the garage to use the legs. Lucky for me, they fit perfectly. Got everything hung, threw on my trusty smoke towel, and we were off to the races.

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Once smoking was complete they went into the (pre-heated) dehydrator at 165ºF until they hit an internal temperature of 140ºF (~3.5hrs). It was getting quite late so rather than wait it out, I threw them in the oven at 200ºF to finish them off a bit quicker, only took an additional 15 minutes to reach a final internal temperature 155ºF.

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Ice-bathed the meat sticks for 10 minutes. Patted them all dry and cut almost all of the links into quarters to make 3" sticks; left just a handful long and linked for drying later. Put them all in a pyrex, then into the fridge overnight to sit uncovered to chill thoroughly/to make sure the casings remain decently dry. Then I hit the hay.

12.jpeg


Vacuum packed 'em the next morning. The smaller ones to eat right away/into the freezer for later, and the big boys just to sit in the fridge for another day or two to allow the moisture to redistribute itself evenly within the sticks before throwing them in the drying chamber to try out drying some.

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TASTING NOTES:
-----------------------------

- The recipe seems right on; really nice acid tang and a good slow heat from the chipotle and lava jack cheese. I wouldn't call them overtly spicy, just well spiced - you really only notice the spiciness about a minute after eating one. The casings give a decent snap, extremely similar to Old Wisconsin Snack Sticks. I'm undecided on if I'd add more or less smoke in the future which probably means they're right where they should be, but maybe I'll let some impartial third-party snackers weigh-in on that.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
-----------------------------

- [in my best Jan Brady voice] Stuffer, stuffer, stuffer. I think the texture of the grind came out well, but you could tell some of the cheese bits got overworked. I'll add it to my list of reasons why I should just go buy a stuffer soon. 8lb of grind + 1lb of cheese yielded a lot of snack sticks and was about all my fermentation tub could handle. That said, it'd be nice to be able to do a double batch near the holidays as I suspect these will be a big hit with our friends and family - so I'll likely be keeping my eye out for a larger tub/enclosure to ferment in. The uniformity and "professional" look of the collagen casings really do make them look quite nice, especially if I'll be gifting a lot of them in the future - maybe it's worth the frustration of a few blowouts? I'll have to stew on it some more. Lastly, I wouldn't hesitate to up the chipotle powder a bit next time (0.65%?), but that's more my desire for things to be rather spicy than a critique on the recipe.

Ok, that was a long read - now it's your turn. Please, do let me know your thoughts, what you'd have done differently, or if you have tips or suggestions. Thanks!
 
Last edited:

bmudd14474

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That looks awesome. I like the creative way you did all of this including smoking and dehydrating. Great job
 

Saline_Smoker

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Thanks! I figured mashing together some of my favorites would likely net me something I'd really enjoyed. Hanging out with some friends tomorrow and we'll see what the people's opinion truly is of them.
 

KrisUpInSmoke

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They look great! And, that's a fantastic writeup too! Let us know how your buddies like them, since we can't taste them...lol.

Congrats on making the carousel!
 

Saline_Smoker

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Thanks Adam & Kris. Wanted my first big post here to be a good one. Hope it’s fun & helpful to others. I’ve gotten a good deal of info from these boards before finally signing up, so I’m glad to be able to finally contribute as well.
 

SWFLsmkr1

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Nice process and good looking sticks.

May I suggest next time try using some B-LC-007 culture. This will cut your fermentation temp to 64ºF-75ºF and go longer around 48 hrs with a lower R/H.
 

Saline_Smoker

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Nepas, thanks for the suggestion. With the shift in weather just around the corner here in MI, the lower fermentation temps would be quite handy to have as my basic tub setup is indeed subject to whatever the temperature is inside or outside for any given fermentation. Is there a noticeable difference in the final acid profile between the two? Not that my pallet is all that sophisticated, just curious.
 

Saline_Smoker

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Just a quick update here...

These were indeed a big hit with the gang - a bright point given we were all together to watch the UMich/ND game, and we all know how that went.

The main thing I noticed was vacuum packing them, even just for the day these were in there, allowed the casing to rehydrate and the lovely snap they had before was diminished greatly. That said the umami of them really bloomed quite a bit more, especially after sitting out on the snack table for a few hours.

That said, I finally got around to putting a few up in the drying chamber yesterday and maybe that'll be the trick to keeping the snap intact even once put into vacuum packs for storage. We'll see.

IMG_7719.jpeg
 

humdinger

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Looking good Brian and congrats on making the carousel with your first big post. I've made fresh sausage before but I think I would like to try something similar to this eventually. I'll book mark this for future reference. Thanks.
 

Saline_Smoker

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Looking good Brian and congrats on making the carousel with your first big post. I've made fresh sausage before but I think I would like to try something similar to this eventually. I'll book mark this for future reference. Thanks.
Thanks for the kind words. I didn't even realize there were local specific parts of the forum - kudos for having that in your signature. Guess I just never scrolled down that far. Just posted a hello to the Michigan board!
 

humdinger

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Excellent! Yeah I used to do some heavy michigan members "recruiting" but as with everything, work got in the way! But things have slowed down so I hope to be around more in the near future.
 

mr crab

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Can you explain more in depth or provide more pics of your fermentation tub? I'm about to start my first project with f-rm-52 and I want to do a fast ferment around 82f. Stix and process look great BTW.
 

Saline_Smoker

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Sure thing señor Crab...

So basically you just want a small enclosed environment where you can easily control the humidity and to a lesser degree the temperature. I've since 'upgraded' my tub to a larger 34gal tub. The thing you're looking for here is about finding a good tall standing tub/what-have-you so you can easily have 16" summer sausages or long roped snack sticks without things touching the bottom of the tub, but also seal it closed relatively well to hold in humidity.

tub_sticker.jpeg


In the sides of the tub I made some holes just large enough to slide some smoke sticks into to hang sausages from. This is about all the customization you really need do to the tub itself.

tub_outside.jpeg


Then on the inside, you'll want to place a humidifier. If you want to up the temperature, you can use a seedling mat, and a pyrex dish or other container on top of the seedling mat to A) hold some water to give a bit a thermal mass to help the seedling mat up the temp B) catch drips from the sausages so your seedling mat isn't sitting in standing water/getting dripped on. Note, in my experience, the seedling mat will only raise the temperature in the tub about 8ºF above ambient temperature at best, maybe more if you insulated the tub a bit. Word of warning - if using a seedling mat, keep an eye on things until you're sure how often you'll need your humidifier running to keep the humidity high in the tub, but not so high that it's raining in there. For me this means with the lid closed, I only need to run the humidifier for 10-15 seconds 2-3 times a day.

Really I almost never use the seedling mat, 'cause I figure my better half would kill me if I accidentally burned down the house fermenting sausages. Instead, I really just use a culture best suited for the season/ambient temp the house is at. So F-LC in the summer (>75ºF) and B-LC-007 in Spring and Fall (<75ºF). I'll usually only whip out the seedling mat if I'm fermenting in the dead of winter (the corner of the dining room where I typically keep my tub is on an open crawl space and can get pretty cold in winter falling below B-LC'007's 68ºF min optimal temperature).

tub_inside.jpeg


I know some people are dead set on using the culture their recipe calls for, but I honestly can't taste the difference and save having to change the dextrose/sugar content (less for B-LC-007/slow fermenting cultures, and more for F-LC/fast fermenting cultures) I don't think it matters one iota. It seems far more logical to me to use whichever culture works best for the environment at the time. That, of course, is just my $.02

Anyway, that's about all I can think to say on the subject of my fermentation tub. I hope I've been detailed enough to be of some help to you; and best of luck with your fermentation! If you have more questions, don't hesitate to ask.
 

mr crab

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That looks easy enough. Thanks a lot for the info. One more question, are you actually measuring the RH or just keeping it "very humid" but not sweating inside the tub?
 

Saline_Smoker

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I used to keep a hygrometer in there, but I don't anymore now that I'm comfortable with my setup. So yeah, I'd suggest until you have it dialed in, you keep a hygrometer in there to keep an eye on your relative humidity.
 

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