Nuclear Hot Links

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geostriata

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May 18, 2021
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California
(Note: I accidentally started talking about the Boudin in this thread, so there was a bit of discussion on that. Here's where that Boudin conversation starts).

This marks sausage #3 of #7 from sausagefest 2024. Thanks to SmokinEdge SmokinEdge for the original recipe here. To choose this recipe, I reviewed available recipes for hot links and filtered out those where they add beer (I tried this, and I didn't like it. My personal opinion is this is not a good addition), then I looked at the remaining recipes and gave each recipe points for ingredients in common and subtracted points for having odd ingredients. After the joy and simplicity of the Central TX BBQ sausage, I felt that there's some merit to trying to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to texas recipes (and Mariansky also opines on the merits of sausages without "fancy ingredients"). In any case, that system had the SmokinEdge SmokinEdge recipe as the winner (amongst this, this, this, and this).

The other objective was to make a REALLY hot/spicy sausage. You ever see that show "Hot Ones?" where they eat chicken wings at increasing levels of hotness, and folks struggle to make it through? I had wanted to make the sausage version of that. A sausage that you struggle to make it through (but also a version of that same sausage that's much easier).

I then made the recipe in three different batches, to test various things:
  1. Batch #1: Initial recipe test, but without fennel since it was one of those less common ingredients. Half was "Hot Ones" spicy" where I added 1g/lb habanero powder, 3g/lb hot pepper flakes, and replaced the 3g paprika with hot paprika. These were delicious and hot, but not "Hot Ones" hot. Solid links and I love how spicy they are.
  2. Batch #2: Added fennel. I LOVED the whole fennel. I found myself savoring bites where the fennel appeared. For the spicy half, added 1g/lb of 1million+ scoville 7-pot primo powder (a caroline pepper powder clone that's just as hot but cheaper). This stuff, if you take the smallest amount of the powder, it just scorches your mouth. The interesting thing was that the links were good, and hotter than batch #2, but they still weren't "hot ones" hot. I could eat multiple in a single sitting without wanting to reach for the milk or whatever. I was slightly frustrated I still didn't get it hot enough. There was something in the sausage that was mitigating the spicyness somehow.
  3. Batch #3: Subtracted sugar, and same as #2, but just went with normal paprika instead of hot paprika. Interestingly it was hotter than #2! Apparently sugar can help counteract the effect of capsaicin! So I think that's what was going on. Still not "hot ones" hot, however, but getting there. However, I find the flavor addition of the habanero to be clashing when compared against the non-spiced versions.
So with that, we have two recipe variants: Reaper Hot Links and Nuclear Hot Links. If you don't want to scorch your taste buds, just do SmokinEdge SmokinEdge recipe verbatim and you'll be happy.

Reaper Hot Links: Per lb of meat, ideally a combo of pork shoulder and beef (e.g., 85% pork shoulder, 15% beef brisket)
  • 1.13g cure #1
  • 0.3g sodium erythorbate
  • 0.6g whole fennel
  • 11g Nonfat Dairy Milk
  • 1g chipotle
  • 1g cayenne
  • 1g granulated garlic
  • 1g granulated onion
  • 1g coarse pepper
  • 35g water
  • 3g hot paprika (or normal paprika if you want it less hot)
  • 1g carolina reaper/7-pot primo powder
  • 5.65g kosher salt
Nuclear Hot Links:
  • Same as above, except
  • 10g carolina reaper/7-pot primo powder per lb.

Here's how it goes:
1718593815196.png

Used pork shoulder and beef brisket. As I love a good coarse grind on my sausages, I separated out the leaner bits to grind coarser. For beef, I'm extra careful to cut the fat out. Pork, not so much. Then supplemented with a tad of pork back fat to increase the fat percentage.

1718593919738.png


Coarse was on the 12mm plate. After the Columbian Chorizo sausage where I basically diced the meat, I felt much more comfortable going extra coarse on this one. Fine was on 4.5mm plate.

1718593989301.png

The ingredients. The powder in the top left is just for the last 1.5lbs of mixed meat. Taking the Reaper Hot Links and making them nuclear.

1718594047271.png

Here's the mix in the stuffer.

1718594113958.png


I then created a milk slurry of the powder to hand mix the remaining powder as evenly as possible into the 1.5lbs of mixed reaper meat I set aside. This was SO HOT! It accidentally got on my arm and it burned my skin. So definitely wear gloves and be careful!

1718594233560.png

After stuffing. I put the reaper in the Fine-T collagen and the nuclear in the last of my natural casings. I figured I'd test my high-humidity smoking hypothesis to try to help tenderize the Fine-T, but I forgot, lol. Oh well.

1718594305444.png


Post stuffing reaper patty. It was delicious! Spicy, but not too spicy.

1718594356264.png


After smoking.

1718594443387.png


After sous vide and rest 30 mins.

1718594488431.png


Cut shot after grilling. Reaper on left and nuclear on right. Notice how it's darker red -- that's just from the added 7-pot primo powder.

Results
I wanted three types of hot links from the party: (1) spicy, but totally solid (I already got this from prior batches unshown), (2) almost too spicy (I hoped this would be reaper batch), (3) so spicy it's difficult to eat the whole sausage (I hoped this would be nuclear batch).

The reaper links were delicious. I was able to eat them and they were about the hottest sausages I've ever had. The heat overpowered some of the flavor notes of the sausage, but this was what I was aiming for.

The nuclear links were another story. I ate one slice and I was okay, and then ate another slice and started sweating. I looked to the fridge and saw that we were out of milk, so I started drinking half-and-half to recover from the heat. Perfect, just what I was aiming for.

To those that may ask, "Why create a sausage so spicy it's inedible?" To them I'd say: "because it's fun." Also because my group of friends are silly. One of my friends still occasionally says: "The best $20 I ever spent was to dare X to drink a bottle of hot sauce in high school." Nowadays we aren't as crazy, but still as adults we did our own version of the hot ones challenge (and felt the pain of 'da bomb').

So it should be a fun addition to SausageFest 2024 :)
 
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Geo, Kick up the fennel by crushing some seeds (mortar and pestle) dry roasting in a hot pan. Keep the seed moving so as not to burn it. Slightly brown toasted

RG
 
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I think I'd like the reapers....I'll leave the nukes to better men than me! Both look great though.

Jim
Haha, yeah. The nukes are just there for dares. A form of food punishment :)

I like the reapers. It's nice to have something just spicy enough to cause you to slow down and appreciate it.
 
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Geo, Kick up the fennel by crushing some seeds (mortar and pestle) dry roasting in a hot pan. Keep the seed moving so as not to burn it. Slightly brown toasted

RG
Interesting! I have no idea how roasted fennel will taste. I'm going to have to try this! Thanks!
 
This marks sausage #3 of #7 from sausagefest 2024. Thanks to SmokinEdge SmokinEdge for the original recipe here. To choose this recipe, I reviewed available recipes for hot links and filtered out those where they add beer (I tried this, and I didn't like it. My personal opinion is this is not a good addition), then I looked at the remaining recipes and gave each recipe points for ingredients in common and subtracted points for having odd ingredients. After the joy and simplicity of the Central TX BBQ sausage, I felt that there's some merit to trying to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to texas recipes (and Mariansky also opines on the merits of sausages without "fancy ingredients"). In any case, that system had the SmokinEdge SmokinEdge recipe as the winner (amongst this, this, this, and this).

The other objective was to make a REALLY hot/spicy sausage. You ever see that show "Hot Ones?" where they eat chicken wings at increasing levels of hotness, and folks struggle to make it through? I had wanted to make the sausage version of that. A sausage that you struggle to make it through (but also a version of that same sausage that's much easier).

I then made the recipe in three different batches, to test various things:
  1. Batch #1: Initial recipe test, but without fennel since it was one of those less common ingredients. Half was "Hot Ones" spicy" where I added 1g/lb habanero powder, 3g/lb hot pepper flakes, and replaced the 3g paprika with hot paprika. These were delicious and hot, but not "Hot Ones" hot. Solid links and I love how spicy they are.
  2. Batch #2: Added fennel. I LOVED the whole fennel. I found myself savoring bites where the fennel appeared. For the spicy half, added 1g/lb of 1million+ scoville 7-pot primo powder (a caroline pepper powder clone that's just as hot but cheaper). This stuff, if you take the smallest amount of the powder, it just scorches your mouth. The interesting thing was that the links were good, and hotter than batch #2, but they still weren't "hot ones" hot. I could eat multiple in a single sitting without wanting to reach for the milk or whatever. I was slightly frustrated I still didn't get it hot enough. There was something in the sausage that was mitigating the spicyness somehow.
  3. Batch #3: Subtracted sugar, and same as #2, but just went with normal paprika instead of hot paprika. Interestingly it was hotter than #2! Apparently sugar can help counteract the effect of capsaicin! So I think that's what was going on. Still not "hot ones" hot, however, but getting there. However, I find the flavor addition of the habanero to be clashing when compared against the non-spiced versions.
So with that, we have two recipe variants: Reaper Hot Links and Nuclear Hot Links. If you don't want to scorch your taste buds, just do SmokinEdge SmokinEdge recipe verbatim and you'll be happy.

Reaper Hot Links: Per lb of meat, ideally a combo of pork shoulder and beef (e.g., 85% pork shoulder, 15% beef brisket)
  • 1.13g cure #1
  • 0.3g sodium erythorbate
  • 0.6g whole fennel
  • 11g Nonfat Dairy Milk
  • 1g chipotle
  • 1g cayenne
  • 1g granulated garlic
  • 1g granulated onion
  • 1g coarse pepper
  • 35g water
  • 3g hot paprika (or normal paprika if you want it less hot)
  • 1g carolina reaper/7-pot primo powder
  • 5.65g kosher salt
Nuclear Hot Links:
  • Same as above, except
  • 10g carolina reaper/7-pot primo powder per lb.

Here's how it goes:
View attachment 698978
Used pork shoulder and beef brisket. As I love a good coarse grind on my sausages, I separated out the leaner bits to grind coarser. For beef, I'm extra careful to cut the fat out. Pork, not so much. Then supplemented with a tad of pork back fat to increase the fat percentage.

View attachment 698979

Coarse was on the 12mm plate. After the Columbian Chorizo sausage where I basically diced the meat, I felt much more comfortable going extra coarse on this one. Fine was on 4.5mm plate.

View attachment 698980
The ingredients. The powder in the top left is just for the last 1.5lbs of mixed meat. Taking the Reaper Hot Links and making them nuclear.

View attachment 698981
Here's the mix in the stuffer.

View attachment 698982

I then created a milk slurry of the powder to hand mix the remaining powder as evenly as possible into the 1.5lbs of mixed reaper meat I set aside. This was SO HOT! It accidentally got on my arm and it burned my skin. So definitely wear gloves and be careful!

View attachment 698983
After stuffing. I put the reaper in the Fine-T collagen and the nuclear in the last of my natural casings. I figured I'd test my high-humidity smoking hypothesis to try to help tenderize the Fine-T, but I forgot, lol. Oh well.

View attachment 698984

Post stuffing reaper patty. It was delicious! Spicy, but not too spicy.

View attachment 698985

After smoking.

View attachment 698986

After sous vide and rest 30 mins.

View attachment 698987

Cut shot after grilling. Reaper on left and nuclear on right. Notice how it's darker red -- that's just from the added 7-pot primo powder.

Results
I wanted three types of hot links from the party: (1) spicy, but totally solid (I already got this from prior batches unshown), (2) almost too spicy (I hoped this would be reaper batch), (3) so spicy it's difficult to eat the whole sausage (I hoped this would be nuclear batch).

The reaper links were delicious. I was able to eat them and they were about the hottest sausages I've ever had. The heat overpowered some of the flavor notes of the sausage, but this was what I was aiming for.

The nuclear links were another story. I ate one slice and I was okay, and then ate another slice and started sweating. I looked to the fridge and saw that we were out of milk, so I started drinking half-and-half to recover from the heat. Perfect, just what I was aiming for.

To those that may ask, "Why create a sausage so spicy it's inedible?" To them I'd say: "because it's fun." Also because my group of friends are silly. One of my friends still occasionally says: "The best $20 I ever spent was to dare X to drink a bottle of hot sauce in high school." Nowadays we aren't as crazy, but still as adults we did our own version of the hot ones challenge (and felt the pain of 'da bomb').

So it should be a fun addition to SausageFest 2024 :)
You have process and technique down well. You will enjoy your sausage journey and be able to make them all well. Glad I could give you some inspiration. But now it’s all you, and you are doing very well. Nice work.
 
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You have process and technique down well. You will enjoy your sausage journey and be able to make them all well. Glad I could give you some inspiration. But now it’s all you, and you are doing very well. Nice work.
Thanks for your help and inspiration! I'm having fun with it, and enjoy sharing the fun over here at SMF!
 
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SausageFest 2024 #4 is the LA Crayfish (or shrimp) Boudin, and despite being the recipe I had most looked forwards to, it feels like a bit of a failure for me: it tastes absolutely delicious, but it also doesn't hold its form when being grilled. As it gets heated on the grill, the contents expand and shoot out the side. I could of course tie it down, but that feels like cheating...

Here's a pic:
1718755626927.png


My plan is to tweak the linked recipe with phosphates, or possibly explore gelatin formation a bit...
 
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I'm sure indaswamp indaswamp or one of the other Louisiana guys will chime in as well, but boudin isn't supposed to be a well bound sausage. It is loose in the casing. Many eat it by squeezing the filling out of the casing.
 
Oh whoops, I posted this in the wrong thread. Sorry about that! I'll try to fix by moving the Jalapeno Cheddar bit there.

But yeah, as for the Boudin... I understand that eating the collagen is optional: some folks suck it out and toss, and others eat the collagen. I get that, but for the party, I want to be able to grill them and I can't have them popping out of their casings on the grill. I suppose I can cheat and grill them while tied, but that seems suboptimal.

So I'm thinking, this like this LA Shrimp Boudin product, I could try to get them a bit firmer so I can at least grill them as individual links. That linked product uses phosphates and a touch of possibly emulsified canola oil to accomplish that. So that's where I'm thinking to explore a bit...
 
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I have never heard of that brand of boudin. I guess good boudin is like good BBQ, most of it is at little hole in the wall places, not big chains or highly processed and mass distributed....
 
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OK, I'll trust your expertise!

Since I have a giant sous vide setup for all sausages (links of all types on standby at 151F, enabling folks to do a quick sear on whatever they want), I'll just tell folks to eat the Boudin straight out of the bag. Also that they should feel fine not eating the casing, but that they can also eat it if they choose. Sound correct?
 
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