"Quick-N-Easy" Cheesy Meat Sticks

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couger78

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May 3, 2011
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It seems EVERYBODY—at least in my house—wanted meat sticks for Super Bowl Sunday. I haven’t made sticks since last October (!) so I figured it’s time to make another batch. I decided to use whatever I had on hand to get going with the sticks.

THE MEAT:

I still had the other half of the ‘twin boneless butts’  in my freezer (leftover from my mortadella project of a few weeks ago). This half weighed in at just about six pounds,

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After trimming off some of the excess ‘not-so-edible’ parts in the butt, I cubed it in hunks for the grinder. Total weight of 5.75lbs.

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I also am using 2 pounds of 85/15 lean ground beef.

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I ground the pork butt through a 4.5mm plate, comparable to the beef grind. Meat ready to go:

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INGREDIENTS:

Short-Cut: Instead of gathering up a half-dozen or more spices, I opted for the sake of convenience to use a pre-mixed packet from AC Leggs “Old Plantation” Snack Stick Seasoning (#116). To this packet, however, I wanted to add several ingredients to change the final profile a bit (make them a bit hotter, more tangier, and with a bit of BBQ sweetness) including some cubes of sharp cheddar cheese.

Here’s the ingredients I used on this 7.75lb batch:

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I hand-mixed all of these ingredients (except for the cheese cubes and the ECA) into the meat to form a nice paste. I put this mixture into the fridge while I tended to other business for the next couple of hours.

STUFFING:

For smaller sausage batches that are 5 to 7 pounds in size, I’ve been using my grinder with the stuffer attachment. For bigger batches, I break out the Kirby cannon. For these sticks I decided to go ahead and use the grinder/stuffer combo because of this wonderful little Cabela’s accessory: the “High-Speed Stuffing funnel”

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Using a grinder as a stuffer, in a word, usually stinks! It’s slow, inefficient and cumbersome—particularly if you’re doing the job solo. But I DO like using this tool as it not only makes the job of stuffing a whole lot easier than ‘regular’ grinder stuffing, the high-speed auger moves the meat along very efficiently.

‘High-Speed’ Auger in place (it attached to the end of the grinder auger):

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Flange & funnel in place. Ready to start stuffing!

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I’m using 19mm clear collagen casings as I still had a few leftover from my last stick job:

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Just before stuffing, I added the ECA with a bit of cold water and the pound of cheese cubes, and made sure these were ‘gently’ incorporated into meat. My understanding was if one mixes ECA too early or before a grind, the meat will become mushy.

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With the help of my youngest son manning the ‘feeding’ of the grinder while I handled the ‘business end’ of the grinder/stuffer, which made quick work of the nearly 8 pounds of sticks. TIP: Cut plenty of butcher twine segments in advance so tying off stick lengths goes quickly & doesn’t interfere with the production flow as much.

Lengths ready for the smoker. The long twine perpendicular to the sticks was my gauge in order to keep the stick length consistent so they’d actually FIT in the smoker. I’ve made the mistake before of making chubs too long to fit. Live & learn…

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THE SMOKE:

My plan was to do 3 hours of hickory smoke & finish the sticks in the smoker (no water-bath/poaching for these guys). I’m using the A-maze-n smoke generator. First hour, no smoke at 130 degrees for an hour or so to dry the casing exterior.

Here’s a shot after about a hour of smoke applied.

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One of the issues I’ve had using my Masterbuilt gasser is trying to keep the temps down to a steady & controllable level. I installed a ball valve to allow me to further reduce the gas/flame output & have better control. The other concern is the hot spot over the flame. The temp directly over the flame is, naturally, hotter and so I need to create a barrier or baffle to divert or spread out the heat. No water pan was used this time. Because of the size constraints of the box in hanging the long sticks, I opted to simply move the hanging meat to either side away from the flame. It seemed to work okay. I’ll revisit this again & see if I can come up with a solution.

Temps & Time: Started at 2:00pm

130°         1.5 hours

135-145°   3 hours Smoke

150-165°    5.5 hours  no smoke

165-180°   1 hour until IT of 154° is reached.

Total time: 11 hours.

Finished & pulled the sticks at 1:00am

I anticipated this cook to take no more than 7-8 hours, but obviously I was off in my estimate.  Since I usually poach after a 2-3 smoke, my inexperience on long smoke times really showed.

Pulled & blooming in the early morning hours. 
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  These will sit overnight and I’ll cut ‘em up after some firming up in the fridge.

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Next day, I cut up the sticks to a desired length and got them ready to pack up.

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CLOSE-UP: I was really pleased the cheese visible in the cut links. The texture is very nice with a slight chew. Taste is tangy, slight ‘meaty’ sweetness, with just a bit of ‘after burn.’

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These weren't as 'quick and easy' as I'd hope, but I like 'em. Best of all, the boys seem to really like them,too!

Great to have them done in time for the kickoff!

- Kevin
 

boykjo

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Looks great kevin..........................
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Joe
 

pops6927

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Excellent post, fantastic workmanship!  Where did you get your casings and what kind were they?
 

DanMcG

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LOL Quick-N-Easy.... Ya made it look easy but they never go quick! Love the sliced-view.....hell I loved the whole post.

Nice work Kev.
 

chef jimmyj

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Great thread and top notch result!...JJ
 

BGKYSmoker

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Great post

The cyclone auger for the grinder is the best way to use it for stuffing.

Question?

Whats the purple in the ECA bowl?
 

couger78

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May 3, 2011
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Looks delicious Kevin. Was it high temp cheddar?
I used 'regular' old sharp cheddar—not the hi temp stuff.

It's what I had available. It held up quite well in the final sticks.Quote:
Excellent post, fantastic workmanship!  Where did you get your casings and what kind were they?
19mm Clear collagen casing. Got these I think at Sam's Club (about $13;  enough to do about 14 lbs).

@Nepas— Those purple flowers are painted on the little bowl. In hindsight, I should've used a darker bowl to show the small amount of white ECA it contained. Amateur photographer at work! 
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Kevin
 

BGKYSmoker

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Yeah i see the design now.

My eyes aint so good anymore...yikes

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With all the sticks yo do maybe you should invest in a caddy of collagen.

I  just made another caddy order. It is a special order only for 17mm.

This box was 19mm just got 2 vac bags left.

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This box is 18mm mahogany, got a few left.

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Last edited:

gersus

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May 8, 2011
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NEPAS, did you order straight from Int. Collagen Res.? or a distributor. Int. Collagen Res. is only about 1 1/2 hours from me! I would love to have a whole caddy butttttt that is quite a bit of cash. 
 

couger78

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May 3, 2011
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Nepas, that's a proverbial "boat-load" of casings!

I may stock up on some collagens, but a box like that for me would be a lifetime supply!  
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