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How to: Smoked Venison Sausage

Make the most of your harvest with these easy and delicious Homemade Smoked Deer Sausages.

Whether you're processing your own deer or getting it from your local butcher or meat market, homemade venison sausage is easy to make and one of our favorite ways to enjoy deer meat. Smoking your venison sausage is the perfect way to add moisture and flavor to your otherwise lean meat. For this recipe, we're using our Butter Garlic seasoning to add richness and depth of flavor. 

What You'll Need

Lean to Fat Ratio

Venison, like most game meats, is extremely lean making it difficult to use on its own in sausage making. No matter what kind of sausage you're making, you'll need to add fat to your meat block to ensure you have moisture and flavor. The fat ratio of pork belly lends itself very well to venison, and it also has a smooth flavor that won’t overpower our venison. Pork belly has a fat ratio of about 30%, which means the total fat content of our sausage will be around 15%-20%. For smoked sausage, you want to be somewhere in the range of 15-25% fat to lean ratio. 
venison sausage

Grinding 

We are going to be grinding the meat twice for this sausage: Once through a 3/8” plate and then again through a 3/16” plate. We start with a coarse grind just to begin the process of breaking down the meat. You don't want to force the meat through the 3/16” plate right away or it would likely overload the grinder and prevent the meat from breaking down evenly. 

venison sausage grinding

Grinding twice will also allow us to mix in our seasoning between grinds. This is a helpful trick to evenly distribute the seasoning throughout the meat block. 

Once the first grind is complete mix in the Butter Garlic Brat Seasoning gently by hand. Once the seasoning is mixed in, pass the meat block through the grinder with the 3/16” plate for the final grind.  

Add Water, Cure & Binder Flour

Now that the grind is done, it's time to add in our water. We recommend a 2-3% water content of your total meat block. Always remember to keep your water or liquid as cold as possible to keep the temperature of the meat down. 

Because our meat block is on the leaner side, we're also going to add Binder Flour which will improve fat and moisture retention in our finished product. 

The pink salt, or curing salt is a standard addition to smoked sausage. The acts as a preservative that will help avoid any food safety issues and it will also give it a standard pinkish color that is common in smoked sausage.

This would also be the time to add any other ingredients you’d like to have in your sausage. High temp cheese or crushed jalapeno would make delicious pairings with the Butter Garlic, but we chose to keep it simple. 

Pro Tip: Always taste before you case! You want to make sure your seasoning and flavor levels are exactly where you want them to be before you stuff them into casings. Fry up a patty quickly and adjust as needed. 

fry up brat patty

Stuffing & Linking

Natural hog casings are the standard for brat making. We did these with a 32-35 mm sized casing. We set the sausage stuffer up with 7/8” horn (3/4” works well too) and then filled it with our meat block. Pack the meat down into the stuffer as best you can with your hands to avoid any air pockets. We don’t want air pockets in our sausage, which means we need to avoid them in the stuffer too.

Pro Tip: To load your casing, find the end of the casing strand and put two fingers in the end to open it up. Run water through a few times to open it up and prevent any tangles from happening as you load it onto the horn. 

venison sausage stuffing


Keeping a finger on the top of your horn, begin stuffing just enough so that you can still pinch the meat down, but not too full that they won’t be able to twist. Use your other hand to gently guide the stuffed sausage away from your stuffer. Once your strand is stuffed, go through with a sausage pricker or knife and remove any large air pockets.

To twist, grab one end and pinch a divot to make a sausage that’s about 6-6.5” in length. Grab the first pinch with your left hand and pinch another 6” down with your right hand so you have two links. Twist forward and repeat the process until you’ve linked all your strands. 

linking venison sausage

Smoking 

For the best flavor and texture, we always recommend letting your sausage rest in the refrigerator or cooler overnight.  Place the links on a rack lined sheet tray and refrigerate overnight, uncovered. Keeping them uncovered will allow the casings to dry out.  If the casings are wet when you smoke sausage, it can act as a barrier to smoke flavor being absorbed into the meat. 

For smoking, we're using our Pro Smoker PK 100 Smokehouse, a great all-purpose electric cabinet smoker. Preheat your smoker to 130 degrees F and hang your links on smoke sticks, leaving a few inches between each link to promote air flow and even cooking. After 45 minutes, start your smoke by filling the sawdust pan ¼ full with hardwood sawdust and dampening it with water. Place on the burner and increase the temperature to 150 degrees for another 45 minutes.

loading venison sausage in smoker

Remove the sawdust and raise the temperature one more time to 170 degrees F and finished out the cooking process for another 2 ½ hours or until the sausage reached an internal temperature or 155 degrees F. 

When smoking sausage like this, slowly increasing the temperature of the smokehouse is important to avoid the fat from rendering and leaking out of the casings. Once the sausage reaches 155 degrees, place in an ice bath for about 25 minutes until the internal temp of the meat dropped to 105 degrees to stop the cooking process. If you're not eating right away, place in refrigerator or cooler and allow to cool down to 40 degrees or less.  

 

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