I love making wild game sausages and I believe this stems from long-held traditions in my family. Every year just after Thanksgiving my father’s side of the family would gather together to make Swedish Sausage. It was a ritual they had performed going back to when my grandfather was a kid. They would set up an old hand-crank grinder with a massive horn stuffer and proceed to make enough potato sausage for every family member during the holidays. At Christmas my grandmother would put together an enormous meal using the sausage as the main course, and yet each year I would dread eating it. To me it was bland and they would cook the sausage by boiling it which left the natural hog casings tough and chewy.
It’s really kind of surprising that after all the years of making that sausage, and not enjoying it, that I now get so much out of making my own sausages. Some of that desire has come from necessity; I usually have so much wild game in the freezer that I need to find creative ways to use it, and making sausages is a great way to do that.
Technique & Equipment
Making wild game sausages is a fairly easy skill to learn but it can be challenging if you don’t have the proper equipment and some basic knowledge. The first thing you need is a meat grinder. There are dozens of grinders on the market that range in price from $70 on up to several hundreds of dollars. If you own a Kitchenaid mixer there is a grinder attachment that can be purchased and works very well. If you only intend on making small batches of sausage this can be a great option. However, if you plan to make lots of sausages I would recommend getting a larger grinder that is capable of doing large amounts of meat.
The next thing I would recommend is a sausage stuffer. A ten pound stuffer can be purchased for as little as $70, but you can also spend up to $100. Trust me, this makes stuffing your sausages a lot easier. Many grinders come with a stuffer attachment but they’re generally slow and can be bothersome to use. If you intend on making a lot of sausage it is totally worth the money to buy a stuffer.
Once you have your basic equipment, the sausage making process is only as difficult as you want it to be. It can be as easy as buying a kit that includes all the casings and seasonings, or as difficult as fermenting your own salami.
Sausages – So Many Choices
The first thing to figure out is what kind of sausage you want to make. There are thousands of different sausage recipes. Many are specific to wild game, but the rest can be easily adapted to work well with venison, fowl, or whatever meat you’re using.
Fresh sausages are a great place to start. This includes bratwursts, Italian sausage and Merguez. These sausages don’t require any smoking or curing to be eaten. All you need to do is fry them in a pan or throw them on the grill. The four basic components to fresh sausage are the meat, fat, salt and seasonings.
All of my sausages are made with wild game. Venison and antelope have very little fat so it has to be added to your sausage mix. I like to use pork back fat for this purpose. Some people use beef suet but I feel that pork has a milder flavor and doesn’t change the flavor of the wild game as much as beef suet.
Whenever I make sausage using wild game I use an 80/20 blend of meat to fat, meaning 80% meat and 20% fat. When making a five pound batch of sausage that comes out to be 4 pounds of meat to 1 pound of fat. I would use this blend to make Sweet and spicy Italian sausage or Merguez. Other sausages like Bratwurst have a different blend of meats.
Once you figure out your meat to fat ratio the next thing to add would be salt. Too much salt can ruin your recipe and too little will leave you with a bland tasting sausage. I use 40 grams of kosher salt, or about 3 tablespoons per five pounds of meat and fat. The last ingredients to add are your choice of seasonings. You can create your own seasoning mix, or you can follow someone else’s recipe, it doesn’t matter.
Once you get the hang of making a fresh version of sausage you can start exploring other types of sausage and salumi. Curing and smoking your own summer sausage or dry curing your own Saussicon is a fabulous way to utilize your wild game.
When I first got into making sausage I tried to make this traditional Swedish sausage but never found a version that I enjoyed. A couple of years ago I decided to give it another try and played around with the seasoning a bit and came up with a version that I really liked. In my Grandparent’s original version in was mostly a pork sausage but being big on wild game I decided to use a 50/50 blend of venison and pork. Here is my updated version. I hope you enjoy it!
Swedish Sausage Recipe
Potatis Korv (my new Swedish potato sausage)
6 lbs venison
6 lbs fatty pork shoulder
2 lbs onions
3 lbs potatoes
120 grams kosher salt
8 grams fine white pepper
4 grams poultry seasoning
6 grams rubbed sage
10 grams ground allspice
1 whole nutmeg finely ground
6 cups scalded whole milk
Bring the milk to a boil stirring frequently to prevent it from burning, then set aside until cool. boil the potatoes until fork tender and allow them to cool as well. grind the potatoes and onions through a coarse grinding plate then grind the meat through a medium grinding plate like a 1/4 inch. It is necessary to keep the meat as cold as possible while grinding. once all the meat and potatoes and onions are ground mix in the seasonings and milk. Mix thoroughly and stuff into hog casings.
I found the best way to cook this sausage is in the oven at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, turning it over after the first 15 minutes.