venison sausage problems

VAspeedgoat

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I know that some of you guys are pretty dang good in the kitchen so maybe you can help somebody that isn't. I have tried many different things from just bulk breakfast sausage, bratwurst, and snack sticks. Almost all of them are terrible and I end up throwing it to the dog, especially the snack sticks. My biggest issue is the consistency of the meat itself. I usually grind it and like the consistency but when I mix in some bacon or fat it starts getting too fine. Then when I mix in any seasoning it just turns to mush in my opinion. When I do sausage or snack sticks in casing it is the consistency of wet dogfood crumbs in the bottom of the bowl. Is this as simple as going a little more coarse on my grinding plate? Do I need more fat? Grind the fat more coarse? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I took a good bit of stuff to have done for me and it seems to me that it was not my meat that I got back. I don't have gamey meat and this stuff wreaks. Oh well Birdie will be getting fed well again.

Also, what seasoning do you guys use? Do you buy pre made stuff or mix your own? I don't want to steal recipes but if there are some places that I can purchase that are recommended I would appreciate that too. I'm trying to do a better job of utilizing what I have and trying not to waste it because of my poor cullinary skills.
 

1_pointer

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I mostly make ground jerky using a jerky gun. I use the seasoning kits from LEM (IIRC) and gussy them up. I only use the coarse plate on my grinder and only grind it once. When I've made snack sticks and summer sausage I ground the pork seperate and mixed with the venison by hand.
 

JohnCushman

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When I do sausage I course grind the meat and fat together and mix the seasonings with some water in a 20 pound hand mixer to get it mixed thoroughly and then run it through the grinder on a finer plate (not the finest like you would do for burger). I find the grinding works better with the meat really cold, like after being in the freezer for an hour or so. When I stuff casings, I use a 5 lb hand crank stuffer. They key to snack sticks is having the right amount of fat in them or they dry right out, but too much fat and they will turn to mush. I have found A C Legg seasonings to be awesome flavor wise and they have a good variety.
 

JLS

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Is your blade sharp? Do you keep the meat and fat cold while grinding? What size plate are you using?

When I make sausage I use the coarse plate, I think it's 1/4". I mix by hand well then run it back through on the same size plate.
 

CodyCass

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How many times are you grinding? Also, are you insuring everything stays cold? After grinding I recommend cooling things back down to almost freezing. If you are mixing by hand don't go crazy, just fold everything together to ensure even distribution of the seasoning. Before stuffing cool down to almost freezing again. If it gets t0o warm and the fat your are using starts to melt you will get the consistency you speak of.

I'm lucky to have a great Bavarian sausage maker by my home, they do small batch processing of everything and guarantee you get your meat only. However, I still make some of my own from time to time and my favorite is spicy/hot Italian Brats. These things are great on their own, on a bun with some hot mustard, or you can slice them and add to a pasta dish:

2lbs Venison
2lbs ground pork (i usually buy a shoulder or butt and grind the whole thing up)
2 - 4 tsp fresh minced garlic (vary to your preference)
4 tsp of salt
2 tbsp of fennel seeds
2 tsp of cayenne pepper (add more if you like it hot)
1 tbsp of red pepper flakes (add more if you please)
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

If the above mix is too dry you can had ice cold water, but I've never had to. Also, if you want more Italian flavor you can throw in some thyme/basil (or even a dash of the premixed Italian seasoning available at your local grocery store)
 

BuzzH

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Been there...

Here are some suggestions for you.

First off, when you start processing do it right and make sure you have plenty of time. If you're distracted, in a rush, its going to turn out like shit...sorry about the bluntness but its the truth.

I also start with game meat that has all the fat, silver skin, tendons, etc. removed. Start with a good product, you'll end with a good product, start with crap, you'll end with crap.

If I'm trying anything new, I don't do 50 pounds at a time. I try maybe a pound or two at most to start with. Yeah, its a PITA to reduce recipes, etc. but I don't want 50 pounds of sausage that I don't like either.

FOLLOW recipes, fat ratio's, cooking temps, cooking times, etc. I've tried skimping on seasoning and stretching recipes...bad move. If anything I reduce the amount of meat the recipe calls for. I'd rather have more flavor.

I've had good luck with these guys, never had a product from them that I didn't like, but like some more than others.

http://www.psseasoning.com/

For jerky, I use almost all Hi-country from Lincoln Montana. They're on line a well. They have variety packs of jerky spice that you can buy and makes like 5lbs per package. Another good idea before you commit to 25 pounds of something you hate.

Once you get the system down and settle on something you like, write down cooking times, temps, spices, etc. so you don't forget.

Its a lot of trial and error, but after you get it down, its not that tough to make a quality product.
 

charliebravo77

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If you're grinding and then mixing the fat in (whether bacon or another form) you are likely emulsifying the meat which will lead to a very sticky and fine product which is great for hot dogs and some forms of sausage (including the aforementioned bratwurst), but not others. As mentioned before the biggest secret is keeping the blades, grinder, bowl, and meat as cold as possible to prevent the fat from warming up and only grinding it as fine as the recipe requires. For most 'rustic' sausages that's going to be only one pass through a course die. You'll want to grind a bit of venison, then some fat/bacon, then a little more venison, and keep alternating rather than doing all the venison at once then all the fat/bacon at once. When mixing the seasoning you'll want to be gentle unless an emulsification is what you are aiming for.

For a bratwurst recipe, I found Michael Ruhlman's to be easy to follow and produces a really great end product. You can see it in his book Charcuterie, which is a must buy if you like making cured, smoked, and salted meat products yourself. http://amzn.to/1Se58Nz

Here's Ruhlman's recipe and someone's step by step making them: http://cruftbox.com/blog/archives/001641.html
 
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devon deer

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When I do sausage I course grind the meat and fat together and mix the seasonings with some water in a 20 pound hand mixer to get it mixed thoroughly and then run it through the grinder on a finer plate (not the finest like you would do for burger). I find the grinding works better with the meat really cold, like after being in the freezer for an hour or so. When I stuff casings, I use a 5 lb hand crank stuffer. They key to snack sticks is having the right amount of fat in them or they dry right out, but too much fat and they will turn to mush. I have found A C Legg seasonings to be awesome flavor wise and they have a good variety.
Spot on, that is exactly what i do.
My first efforts were a disaster, not now, having said that i can't be arsed with sausage very often these days, steaks, stewing and mince for chilli etc is what i do.
Cheers
Richard
 

maxx

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I do my largest grinding plate first. I don't add straight fat I mix in pork butt to get the fat content up a little. Mine is very little but I don't mind it a little dry. If it is to dry then I fry it in olive oil.

I do the first grind then I mix everything together and I do the second grind.

I add my seasoning and then go from there. Never had a problem.
 

VAspeedgoat

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Wow, I've got some real problems that I never really knew. First off, I measured my medium plate at 3/16. It seams as though this is too fine by what you guys are saying. My knife was sharp but I never knew to cool the meat or fat down that cold. Grinding was always the last step of butchering so whatever the ambient temp was. So, when I ground the bacon it basically started to liquify. It would basically turn to lard consistency.

I appreciate the seasoning recommendations and Cody I will deffinitely try that recipe.

Another couple of questions. Do you guys aim to grind and mix at the same time or do you grind, then freeze for a later time for processing. If you wait do you add the fat prior to freezing or just prior to mixing in seasoning.

Also, how much trimming do most of you do on burger? I don't do too much because on an average deer shoulder here in Va, if I started trimming the way I do for steak, I would throw so much away. But maybe thats another thing I need to change.

Sorry to be asking pretty basic stuff to you guys, I'm just tired of screwing up. When I was a kid we were lucky to get a deer much less two so every scrap went to burger which mom mixed with beef burger in recipes. My wife doesn't care for that but likes bologna, sausage, etc when I can get it to a GOOD processor. It just gets too expensive to pay for it and drive a few hours both ways.
 

jvanderlinde

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I season then mix with meat mixer. Then grind course once and then fine once. I add water when stuffing.

I usually mix 50/50 (pork and whatever im grinding)

I usually use internet recipes for jerkey and a old secret family sausage recipes.

Good luck
 

JohnCushman

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I grind with the fat and then season it and mix it, then cool it down again and regrind it. I add the fat and pork all at once with the first grinding. The fat and pork absorb the flavor of the seasoning as well, so you might as well. I have found that seasoning it after the first grind distributes the seasoning better through the meat.

What I is do all of my grinding at once for everything that needs grinding in a rough grind. I will decide what is going to be various sausages and set that meat aside in batches according to amount of sausage. I grind out in the garage in the middle of winter, so the meat stays pretty cold. I will mix all of my various batches of sausages and set them in tubs in the rough grind and mixed stage. I will put the batch I'm about to final grind in the freezer for about an hour to an hour and a half before I run it through the grinder that final time. Then I will do my mixing and regrinding and packaging and freezing in batches and then at the end I will do my plain burger meat with a smaller blade. It sounds like a lot of work, but once you have a system down, it's easy...and no one who has had my venison sausages has ever complained about them.

For sausage I like about a 13-15% pork fat mixture. It may seem a little excessive to a lot of people, but sausage definitely benefits from a little extra fat. I butcher a couple of hogs a year, so sometimes I will do half and half pig to game depending on how nice the hunting seasons were to me :D

I have never had a problem grinding with the fat in it and freezing it to thaw it out later to deal with it for a final grind and packaging.

One thing you want to do is thoroughly clean the grinder neck and blades and tray in really hot soapy water...then put it in the freezer to cool it back down before you use it again between the different sausages.

NO trimmings go in burger.
 
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BuzzH

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Also, how much trimming do most of you do on burger? I don't do too much because on an average deer shoulder here in Va, if I started trimming the way I do for steak, I would throw so much away. But maybe thats another thing I need to change.

I have a saying about game meat when I'm cutting it, "If there's any doubt, throw it out". I don't put anything bloodshot, dried up, shot up, etc. into anything...burger, sausage, etc.

Here is a moose shoulder from this fall, cut up and ready to be ground into burger....no fat, no silver skin, etc.

09191513191.jpg
 

iaengineer

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The book by Rytex Kutass is outstanding. The recipes in there are great. I am not sure about using bacon as fat. I would guess you have some ratios off. Also, it maybe you are processing it too hot. If so it will render the fat and make it mushy.

Try one of the jerky guns. That is about as easy as it gets and they turn out great. Try one of the packages made by LEM for the gun.
 

Jwill

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I like your style Buzz.

You should have come down on Sunday VAspeedgoat, I did a run of about 40lbs of summer sausage and bratwurst.

Some good suggestions in this thread. I use AC Legg seasonings and have been pleased.
 

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VAspeedgoat

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I like your style Buzz.

You should have come down on Sunday VAspeedgoat, I did a run of about 40lbs of summer sausage and bratwurst.

Some good suggestions in this thread. I use AC Legg seasonings and have been pleased.

Thats a dirty picture to post at a guy who is sausagedly challenged like me. Lmao. Thats almost too pretty to eat......almost!
 

kenton

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Everything said so far has been spot on. I never use anything but the coarse plate and try to get absolutely as much fat, sinew, silverskin, ect off as possible. You'll find out the more pride that goes into the trimming, the more pride you can take in the final product. And don't worry, we've all had batches turn out bad, its just one more way to not do it again.
 

JLS

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You might have better luck using pork shoulders than bacon. Although I've used pork bellies for burger before.

I like to have the meat icy still when it's going into the grinder. I'll grind meat and fat, and put it outside or in the fridge, on ice, something to keep it cool. Clean the grinder plate and auger and cool them. Mix everything up and then run it back through again.

I don't know that I go to Buzz's extreme on trimming. I used to, but I've mellowed out a bit on that.
 

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