I searched for a COTM "Charcuterie" thread to put this on, but couldn't find one.
So last week I started on Chef Milo's Country Venison Sausage, from Ruhlman and Polcyn's "Charcuterie", page 157.
I had some old venison sausage in the deep freeze, and some hog casings in the fridge, and wanted a sausage project. Figured it was worth a try.
I cut the recipe in half. Instead of ice water, I used red wine with ice crushed ice to make a half cup of liquid. The venison was frozen ground venison a friend had given me a long while back. When I opened the package there was no freezer burn at all, and the texture, look, and smell were great, just as if frozen yesterday. Used boneless pork butt as the recipe called for. Interestingly, this appeared to be a pretty low-fat sausage for a sausage. The venison was very lean, and the pork butt wasn't especially fatty. If I had to guess, based on just the meat, the fat content would be below 20%, maybe in the 15% range.
Made the forcemeat by sprinkling the spices on the cut up pork butt, mixing that a bit with the thawed ground venison, and then running that through a Kitchen Aid with grinder attachement. Used the coarse plate, not that it really mattered. Once everything was through (into a bowl held in ice water), I mixed with the paddle for a minute while I added the wine/ice. I think this helped keep everything cold. Popped the forcemeat into the fridge for 24 hours.
The next day, I stuffed about 4.5 feet of hog casing. That went well. Ended up with 9 links, about 6 inches each. I put the links into the fridge to dry a bit for 24 hours. I have about a pound of uncased sausage that I froze, I'll use that in a scramble or a pasta dish.
Next was time for hot smoking them, as the recipe calls for. I don't have a dedicated hot smoker, but....the next day I was cooking ribs on the BBQ, using a combination of coal and hardwood chunks. Once the ribs were done, and the coals were about out, I threw some extra water-soaked hardwood chunks (oak) onto the fire (on one side of the BBQ), and put the sausages on the other. Smoked them for about 1 or 1.5 hours (I forgot to write the timing down), until an instant read thermometer read 158 - recipe calls for going to 150, but the extra 8 degrees got away from me). Dropped them into an ice-water bath to cool, then into the fridge.
We had some the next day. I have to say, they turned out really well. Of course, I'm not sure exactly what these sausages are supposed to taste like. But they have excellent flavor. The venison comes through without being overpowering, and the spices used - allspice, nutmeg, pepper - work really well in combination with the venison. It's a very lean sausage, and a very fine ground textured one, almost like a baloney fine-grind texture. The casing has a lot of snap too it (it's almost too tough, not sure why). All around, I was really pleased with this effort, it turned out better than I had hoped, given that I was using frozen venison, year old hog casing, and had never hot smoked sausage before. I'm hoping to make more of these venison sausages in the near future.