Venison Longaniza

With the bustle of Christmas behind us, I found myself with a little bit of free time this past weekend.  Confronted with an empty stomach and the infinite possibilities of what to do on a blustery January day, I did what any hungry outdoorsman would do.  I busted out the ground venison and the old stainless steel manual grinder.  Yes, it was sausage time once again at my house and I was excited to try out a new recipe as well revisiting some old reliables.

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After an intense internal debate on what to make I decided on two recipes; the first was a Mexican Chorizo (recipe courtesy of Micheal Rhulman and his book Charcuterie); and the second was a Spanish Longaniza posted by Hank Shaw on his website .

The Mexican chorizo was delicious and has been a favourite of mine for a while.  Orginally this recipes was designed for pork, however I found it will also accommodate a 50/50 pork venison split.  Suitable for adding to a soup, gumbo or even on its own, this sausage packs a flavourful punch with a bit of spicy kick.

Next was the Longaniza.  I was unfamiliar with this sausage and wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with it.  And by unfamiliar, I mean I hadn’t even heard of it before, little own taste it.  Still, I was determined break some of my culinary boundaries and take my taste buds for a walk.  Besides, If I had to put blind trust in anyone’s culinary sense as it relates to wild game, Hank Shaw would be the guy.

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(Nothing beats that rich red colour that stays with the meat from an Ontario whitetail deer)

Longaniza is a traditional Spanish sausage similar to a chorizo, however it has become prevalent in many countries cuisines such as Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Phillipines.  The exact recipe varies greatly between regions but I found the version posted by Hank Shaw to be delightfully flavourful with a delicious combination of Allspice, fresh rosemary and fresh green onions (The recipe can be found at: http://honest-food.net/wild-game/venison-recipes/burger-meatball-recipes/antelope-or-goat-longaniza-sausage/ )

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For my version, I used 50% pork shoulder and 50% ground venison which turned out great, however I am confident this recipe could easily handle a 30% pork fat to 70% venison ration. I made a few minor tweaks to the seasoning that included substituting the sweet paprika for regular paprika with a tea spoon of sugar, using a home made merlot for the wine, and using crushed dried rosemary which I harvested from my garden this year.  I reduced the rosemary to 1.5 Tablespoons of dried versus the 25 grams of fresh that is called for in the recipe.

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The final product surprised me in its strength of flavour and complexity with the major tastes of the rosemary and allspice being supported by the rest of the ingredients.

I had decided to make this sausage on a whim with no real expectations but ended up striking gold in the flavour department.

I was impressed.  I was so impressed by the taste, I decided to save a bit of the mixture to form into patties for some sandwiches served at diner that day.  A little bit of Jalapeño Havarti on a ciabatta bun and dinner was served.

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Accompanied by a spicy vegetable and venison chorizo soup, the meal was extremely satisfying.

I had this idea in my head that trying new venison recipes was a gamble.  These pre-conceived notions are likely directly related to some poorly butchered meat I had in the past.  All it takes is one bad experience to riddle you with inhibitions, especially when it comes to food.

I am happy to say I no longer buy into this view, ever since I started working with my first deer which I harvested last year.  What made the difference? My deer was taken quickly with one shot, the meat was cared for and butcher appropriately, and the resulting product was far superior to any I had worked with in the past.  The key here is to start with quality if you expect quality.  Its seems after a few resounding successes with my goulashSalisbury steak and now the Longaniza, the restrictors are off and it seems Im ready to put venison in just about anything.

Cheers from my Kitchen

Albert

Venison Pepperettes – AKA Deer Snack Sticks

Firstly, my apologies for posting so many cooking write ups.  I know a good portion of you are here to see some sweet outdoor pics or to hear about a cool trip.  Realistically though, if you are out fishing, hunting or foraging as much as I am, your bound to end up with something to cook.  As luck would have it, I find myself in this exact situation with a freezer full of freshly harvested Ontario grown Whitetail deer.  Plus, if you know me at all, you know that I am not one to hoarde wild game until its claimed by the ice grip of freezer burn.  No sir! I see it, I harvest it, I wait a moment out of respect for the animal, and then I eat it!  Plus all these recipes makes for great posts and photo ops.

Coming from a German family has given me a healthy appreciation for sausage making.  I can recall as a kid, making pounds and pounds of the stuff.  A little Bratwurst here, a bit of Kielbasa there.  If you lived in my dad’s house, it was pretty likely you would be helping with sausage making at least once or twice a year.  Although I may not have appreciated all the work back then, I am thankfull now I had the chance to learn this skill.

What does this have to do with my post?  Well venison makes some of the most exquisite sausage one could ever hope to taste.  So it was with this goal in mind  fired up the old hand grinder and set to work making some Venny sausage.   Cliché or not, get ready for some serious Wurstherstellungs!

First up: Venison Pepperettes.  

Possibly one of the most popular recipes among hunters for ground venison would have to be the delicious pepperette. I chose to follow the recipe provided in Rytek Kutas’s book, Great Sausage Making Recipes with a few minor adjustments.  Ive said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, this is the absolute bible on sausage making (BUY THIS BOOK!).

The ingredients included paprika, ground mustard, ground black peper, white pepper, ground celery, mace, granulated garlic, salt and Curing salt #1.  To avoid copyright infringement I’ve conveniently forgot what quantities were used.  If you want the recipe, spend a few bucks and give Rytek’s book a shot. Its solid gold.

Rytek’s recipe includes fermento and dextrose which are used in semi dry cured sausages to give that tang that pepperettes are notorious for.  I decided to drop out the fermento and rely on the smoke flavour to carry this sausage.

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The sausage was made with 80% venison and 20% pork shoulder.  This makes for a good consistency, a great bind and awesome mouthfeel.  The meat was ground through a coarse die and again through a fine die once the seasonings were added.  Once completely mixed and ground to the desired consistency, I stuffed them into 22mm collagen casings sourced from http://www.sausagemaker.com/ .  A worthwhile link indeed!

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After stuffing, these little beauties went into the smoker for 4 to 5 hours.  The sausages took on a deep red hue and have a pungent smokey odour.

The result was some of the best, most badass pepperettes snacks I  have ever tasted.  Quite the appetizing little wieners if I do say so myself.

Cheers from the my kitchen,

Al

2013 Deer Hunting Season – An Ontario Tradition

Here in Ontario we are nearing the end of good weather and the cold depths winter are slowly approaching.  The days are shorter and the threat of a crisp frost is ever present.  Its this time of year when the minds of most people start to drift southward to warm beaches and cool drinks.  But, for some of us, our thoughts drift to colder climates full of tree stands, warm coffee, and a the prospect of the hunt.

For a few of the faithfull, it is time to sight in the rifles and shot guns, wash the camo clothes with scent-free soap and don the traditional blaze orange vest and hat.   It is time for the great tradition of the Deer Hunt. Continue reading