Simple Winter Pork Sausage
These are incredibly aromatic sausages that make your whole house or tailgate smell like porky holiday heaven. You can bang out a season’s worth of sausage in a couple hours. Spices here are heavy handed—reduce (or increase) to suit your own tastes.
10 pounds fresh pork butt (with a thick fat cap on it)
4 to 5 tablespoons nutmeg
3 to 4 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons dried sage (do not use powdered sage)
2 to 3 tablespoons cracked black pepper
Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Optional: 1 to 2 teaspoons ground clove
Cut the pork butt into approximately 2-inch chunks. You should have a ratio of about four parts lean to one part fat. If you don’t have enough fat in your pork butt, pick up a little extra fresh, unsalted pork fat from your local butcher. Run the meat through a sausage grinder. Add in all the spices and mix thoroughly with clean, bare hands. Run the meat through the grinder one more time. Again, mix thoroughly with your bare hands. Gauge the sausage with your nose and adjust spices accordingly. Form into patties (the easiest way to go) or stuff into clean, rinsed breakfast-sized (22 to 24 millimeter) sheep or lamb casings. Separate rows of patties with waxed paper and wrap in freezer paper. Freeze for up to a year. Makes about 40 to 50 patties.
Smoky Homemade Bacon
Nothing’s more satisfying than your own extra-smoky bacon sliced thicker than a baby’s arm. You might never go back to store-bought bacons again.
2 to 4 fresh pork belly slabs with skin (about 10 to 15 pounds each)
5 gallons water
5 pounds kosher salt
3 pounds brown sugar
15 ounces InstaCure No. 1 (available from SausageMaker.com)
Mix water, salt, sugar and InstaCure No. 1 well in a very large crock. The cure is ready when a small potato will just begin to float. Place bacons slabs in the crock so that they are completely covered with the cure. Store in a cool to cold, dark place for two weeks and inspect every four or five days, skimming off any fat that rises to the top.
After two weeks, remove the bacons, scrub the skin and meat gently with a clean, plastic scrub brush and then soak in plain water for 24 hours to remove excess salt. Remove from the water and, using a large needle, thread a piece of high-quality butcher’s string through one end of the bacon slab and skin (which will ensure string holds in place). Hang the bacon to dry in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (a heavy nail stuck into a beam in your cellar is a perfectly good place to hang bacon).
The next day, build a fire in a smokehouse or very large smoker, making sure to have plenty of wet wood available (dry wood can be soaked for about an hour in water). You’ll need dozens of logs to complete the job. Place bacons in the smoker, as far from the fire as possible, or hang in the smokehouse.
Keep smoke steady at a very low temperature, no more than 110 degrees or so. You are cold-smoking the bacons, not cooking them. (It’s hard to keep such a low temperature in a small smoker, which is why it’s helpful to have your own smokehouse.) Smoke for 24 to 36 hours, or until smoked to your liking.
Slice the large slabs into 1 to 2 pound portions and wrap freezer paper. Bacon will store frozen for more than a year. Makes 20 to 60 pounds of bacon.
Smoky Venison Breakfast Sausage
These are incredibly flavorful, savory and smoky sausage adapted from a recipe found in Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing by Rytek Kutas. I make them every fall and cook them at tailgates and holiday parties throughout the winter, where their incredibly aroma lend a festive air to any occasion. A sausage stuffer is required.
8 pounds chilled venison (2-inch chunks of stew meat work perfectly)
2 pounds beef fat
2 cups water
5 tablespoons of salt
4 teaspoons sage
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon of ground white pepper
1½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons powdered dextrose
2 teaspoons InstaCure No. 1 (available at SausageMaker.com)
Sheep, lamb or hog casings
Make sure meat is free of clots, bone and skin. This should not be a problem if you get your meat from a reputable venison farm or specialty meat shop. It may be a problem when it’s left to you and Uncle Cooter to trim this year’s haul.
Run the venison and fat through a sausage grinder and into a very large pan or tray. Add the dry ingredients and about half the water and mix well with clean, bare hands. Run through the grinder once more. If the meat seems a little tough to get through the grinder (the dextrose will make it very thick), add the rest of the water at this point. When all the meat has gone through the grinder a second time, add any remaining water and again mix well with bare hands.
Stuff all the meat into cleaned and soaked breakfast-link-sized 22 to 26 millimeter sheep or lamb casings. Tie off individual sausages as you go at about four inches long.
Hang the stuffed sausage in a cool, dry place for at least two hours. Toss all the sausage in a standard, backyard smoker for about four hours at 180 to 200 degrees until they sweat and develop a dark, smoky color. Wrap in freezer paper and store frozen for up to a year. Simply fry in a pan and serve with breakfast. Makes about 60 or more breakfast links.