Congratulations, you killed a deer! As everyone who deer hunts knows, the fun part is over and now the work begins.
First, you have to field dress the deer. This can be a daunting task for a new hunter or even the third or fourth time you kill a deer. Once that task is completed you have to get the deer out of the woods. Depending on where the deer fell that can be a gargantuan task as well. Once it is out of the woods it generally has to be checked in and sometimes that means taking it to a check-in station. In Missouri we were almost past that and then along came CWD, now in many counties, during the first weekend when most deer are killed, a trip to the check station is required. Then it is back to home or camp to skin or cape the deer for mounting and processing. An experienced hunter can bone out a deer in an hour or two but you are still not done. I always cut up the meat and vacuum seal it, which takes time to do it right. I have found the meat stays good for a couple of years and even longer if done properly. I recently discovered a package buried in my freezer that was three years old. I used it to make stew and it was as good as fresh meat. I don’t recommend this but sometimes it does get lost and I abhor wasting meat from any animal. I also separate out the tougher cuts from the shanks and front shoulder and any other miscellaneous cuts not good for steaks or roast. These cuts usually get made into stew meat or sausage and this brings me to the crux of this article.
Everyone likes deer sausage! Most of us have our preference of flavor or our favorite butcher that makes our favorite variety. Our family certainly does, in fact, we have our favorite, jalapeño cheddar and I am reluctant to order anything else. The drawback is that it is expensive. By the time you buy the pork to mix with the deer meat and pay for the processing, it can cost a small fortune for an even smaller amount of finished product.
I have always been reluctant to make my own sausage as it appeared to be a daunting task beyond my capabilities. Then along came a package of seasoning mix and thorough instructions from a company called, BEST DAMN SAUSAGE COMPANY. I must admit, I was skeptical. We get asked to review lots of products at Deer Camp Magazine, and we are willing to do so if it fits our requirements. Not all get a good review and very few get a great review, but this one does! It more than met our expectations. The kit we received was for making four pounds of sausage and included the seasoning, casings, thorough and easy to follow instructions. It even included the cotton string to tie off the casings after stuffing. We thawed out two pounds of deer meat and bought two pounds of pork, the cheapest I could find as pork butt has suddenly gotten very expensive. We ground it up using the coarse blade, trying to feed both pork and deer meat evenly. This step took about two minutes! We then added the seasoning and thoroughly mixed that along with 4 oz. of cold water then it was run back through the grinder with the small blade.
We followed the directions closely through this process and the final grind looked consistent and even. Then we stuffed it! The instructions told us to soak the casings in water for ½ hour and use a pin to prick a small hole in the end so air could escape. It worked well with no air pockets and a good tight sausage. It was impressive; at least at this point it looked like we knew what we were doing!
The next step was to smoke the sausage. Here we did deviate slightly from protocol. We don’t own a real smoker so we had to improvise. We converted an old charcoal grill and placed a single burner Coleman camp stove in the bottom of the grill with an old cast iron skillet filled with wet hickory chips. We got lots of good aromatic smoke, but very little heat. It became apparent that the temperature was not going to get the meat up to a safe level of 160 degrees so after about three hours of smoke, put it in the oven. Again this was not per protocol, as we opted, due to the fact it was 10:00 at night, to do eight hours in the oven at 200 degrees. This worked just fine! It came out hot all the way through. We immediately put the sausage into an ice water bath to cool it down quickly. When the ice stopped melting we dried it thoroughly with paper towel and placed it in the refrigerator for a little ageing. Thirty six hours was all we could wait to try out the sausage. I brought it into the office on Monday for the real test!
How did it taste? Personally, I thought it was great! Out of the six of us in the office, five of us thought it is as good as anything they had ever tried including my wife who is a tough sell. One guy in the office thought the flavor was great but perhaps a little too spicy for his taste. Overall we were very impressed with the product. If you have never made your own sausage this is the easiest way to start that I can imagine. If you like it a little less spicy, just increase the amount of meat, perhaps make five pounds with the provided packet for a little milder taste.
All it takes is a meat grinder and a little time. If you don’t have a smoker, improvise, or just forgo the smoke and fix it in the oven, but I think it’s time to invest in one like this one at 24 Outdoors because we are going to be making lots more of this! Save yourself a lot of money and make your own sausage, it turned out to be a lot of fun and it was Damn Good Sausage!