There’s always an element of trust when it comes to chomping down on a hunk of sausage.Once ground, there could be anything in there. Next time you’re at the market, check out what goes into a chunk of chorizo, a spicy ground pork sausage that often contains choice ingredients like salivary glands and lymph nodes. Hey, I’m not knocking chorizo, but I never really noticed the salivary glands until I read the package. I make my own gland-free chorizo with antlered game and wild hogs.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when making sausages at home. First of all, sausages are not a good way to use up borderline meats and fish. If the duck is freezer burned, discolored or stinky, throw it away...please. Next, keep the preparation areas sparkling clean and sanitary to avoid contaminating anything. Use a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water on hand to sanitize knives and preparation surfaces as you work.
Meat grinders and sausage stuffers make the process go quicker, but you can make sausage at home with a food processor. If you have a mess of ground antlered game in the freezer, add some ground pork or beef and turn it into sausage. I always add fat to my lean game sausages. Beef, pork and duck fat add flavor and help hold the sausages together while cooking. Most often, I add pork shoulder to the grind. It adds just the right amount of fat and flavor for my taste. The exact ratio isn’t critical. I shoot for a mix of 75% trimmed game meat and 25% pork shoulder. I also save the fat rendered from puddle ducks and add that to the grind for my personal stash. Duck fat is something special.
If you want your first sausage making experience easier, try one of the game sausage kits. They include cures, a variety of flavors and exact directions on how to prepare sausage at home using a smoker, dehydrator or oven. I recommend following the instructions the first time then add other ingredients like peppers and cheese if you want to make it your own.
Game Sausage Patties
No grinder, stuffer, cure or casings required. Trim all silver skin, gristle and skin from the whole muscle meat before processing. If you don’t have access to a grinder, place the meat in a food processor and pulse until it is roughly the size of a grain of barley and not pureed into baby food. When mixing up a batch of sausage, take extra time to make sure that all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
1 quart trimmed game meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups ground pork
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried sage)
1/4 cup onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1. If a grinder is not available, place cubed game in a food processor and pulse a couple of times. Remove lid, stir contents and repeat the process until meat is coarse and barley-sized. Place in a bowl and mix well with remaining ingredients. Adding a tablespoon or two of cold water to the mix helps distribute all ingredients.
2. Form into balls about the size of a golf ball. Flatten into patties. To cook, brown on both sides in a medium-hot skillet coated with vegetable oil.