Summer sausage, from the beginning (2016)

My husband and I were fortunate enough to get a few pigs on a public land hunt recently. We brought home four nice feral porkers. Three were over 100 pounds and one was likely around 60 pounds. Here are a couple of the bigger ones. The biggest boar was closer to 200 pounds. Notice that its feet are touching the ground. Steve is 6″ 1′.

After hours and hours of de-boning, removing silver skin and chunking it up we had a nice pile of almost 100 lbs of organic, free range, porky goodness. The loins are not included in this weight. They are destined for something else.

This is just one of three large totes full of meat.

We put this meat into the freezer to get it right at freezing to make grinding easier.

After adding in some extra fat it all went into the big grinder for the first coarse grind. We have a large, OK very large, grinder so doing 50 pounds of meat in one go is not a problem. We have a much smaller grinder for batches of 25 pounds or less.

We set aside 50 pounds of this coarse ground meat for the summer sausage and put the rest in the fridge for another project. (More about that in another post)

Now the meat is ready for the cure. Summer sausage is cured because of the low smoking temps. This retards spoilage, bacteria growth and adds a nice hammy flavor to the finished project. We purchased our cure, along with many of our spices at Zachs Spice Company in Deer Park. Allied Kenco in Houston is another great place to find not only spices but also meat processing equipment and sausage supplies.

First the curing salt is dissolved in a little cold water.

An immersion blender helps mix the cure evenly in the water.

After the cure is ready it is poured over the meat.

Next it needs to be worked into the meat. Always use gloves.

After “stirring” the cure into the meat, basically kneading and folding the meat and cure together, we put it into the fridge to let the cure do its work overnight.

While the meat was curing it was time to turn our attention to the most important addition, in my opinion, to the sausage. Cheese! You can buy high temperature cheese for your sausage and it will do much better during the cooking/smoking process. Since we were making summer sausage and the temps would not be very high we went with the cheaper, and easier to find alternative. HEB block cheese. Here is 5 pounds of medium cheddar. Two yellow and one white.

This was cubed up and placed in the freezer to harden.

Here it is the meat after 24 hours curing in the refrigerator. The meat had to be “stirred” several times during this time to make sure the cure was distributed evenly. Notice how much darker the meat is now?

This was dumped into the grinder. Literally, we just up-ended the meat tote into the hopper.

Next the cheese went in.

Finally the spices were added.

This was then mixed in the grinder. It is a mixer/grinder so it does all the mixing for us. We were finally ready to make this pile of meat, cheese and spices into something resembling sausage. We used a smaller grind for this last bit. It is ground and stuffed at the same time.

For this batch we went with one pound mahogany casings. This is the normal casing for summer sausage and the casings can usually be purchased from the same place as your spices. They come dry and have to be soaked to soften them up.

Each casing had to be filled….

the open end twisted….

finally it is tied off. Repeat 50 times.

Once all of the sausage has been stuffed it is placed back into the fridge at least overnight to let the spices “soak” in.

Almost there. Now it is time to cook these babies up. They are placed into the 150-160 degree smoker with only heat and no smoking agents (wood chips, pellets or wood chunks) until they reach about 100 degrees. Some folks say to slowly step the heat of the smoker from 110 up to 140 degrees increasing the temp by 10 degrees every hour. If you have time and patience to do that, go for it. Smoking them from the start can cause the casing and outer meat to become “clogged” and the inner meat may have a paler color. Kinda like the “smoke ring” in BBQ meat. We don’t want that.

Once the meat reaches an internal temp of 100 it is time to add the smoke and let the magic happen raising the smoker temp to 180-200 degrees. We used apple wood chips for our smoking agent for this batch.

Once the internal temperature reaches 155 to 165 the sausage is done.

To stop any further cooking from happening they are removed and placed in an ice bath to quickly cool down.

That’s it. We have sausage. Now it’s time to see how it turned out.

Hey not bad. No smoke ring, the color is solid throughout and the cheese is still in chunks.

Time to enjoy.

1220cookie-checkSummer sausage, from the beginning (2016)

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