January 03, 2019
By Chef Derek St. Romain
Hunting in our house has become a family ordeal. With five kids, homeschooling, working with farmers, landowners, food banks and running NoHungryPeople.org, food definitely takes up a lot of our time.
The fact that all we eat in our home is 100 percent wild, healthy, lean, hunter-harvested venison is a definite perk for all the hard work. When Dad comes home from a hunt with fresh meat in the back of the truck, all the kids jump into action. The first question is always the same: "Daddy, are we having sausage tonight?"
We use this exact recipe at our landowner meetings, farmers market cooking demonstrations, farm to fork dinners and all of our educational workshops at the North Carolina cooperative extension offices for Backyard Bow Pro.
There's no fat, no pork and no lack of great flavor in this super healthy venison sausage recipe. This is by far my favorite recipe; it has won me many cook-offs and landed me hundreds of acres of prime hunting land.
If you butcher your own deer, save every scrap piece of meat you cut off and place it in a Ziploc bag to use later. People might say I am crazy, but for an excellent sausage you need excellent meat. That's why I like to add at least one backstrap to the mix. Make sure to cut out as much fat and sinew as you can to make sure it will have a great flavor and texture.
Notice that this recipe has zero fat in it. Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time adding fat to one of the leanest and healthiest red meats you can put in your body.
With this recipe, I leave out the fat, which is the liquid/moisture content for the sausage. Instead, I replace the fat with the same liquid/moisture using vegetables instead. That way you keep the super healthy aspect of eating venison, and it tastes incredible.
DIY Venison Sausage Recipe
Yield: Approximately 4 pounds venison sausage
Total time: 1-2 hours
- 3 pounds of trimmed venison cut in cubes, almost frozen
- 1 pound ground mixed vegetables (directions below)
- 1 cup non-fat dry milk powder, mixed with 2 ounces cold water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fine ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons fennel seed, ground
- 1 teaspoon star anise, ground
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons marjoram
- 2 tablespoons ground bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 6 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 package hog sausage casings
- Prepare ground mixed vegetables: Start with 3-4 onions, red and green bell peppers, green onions, one head of celery, fresh parsley, fresh basil, and two bulbs fresh fennel. Mix all these and grind (or purée) to equal 1 pound. Cook the mixture for 15 minutes on medium. Transfer cooked ground vegetables to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool all the way down to below 40 degrees.
- Cut and grind all the venison, using the medium plate on your grinder.
- Mix the cooled down vegetable mix and all other ingredients (except for the powdered milk, cold water, kosher salt, and sausage casings) into the ground venison.
- Next, mix the powdered milk, cold water, and kosher salt together to form a paste. Add the paste to the venison mixture and mix very well. If you have a stand mixer, use it with the paddle attachment.
Now the real fun begins, and you can decide to either put the sausage in casings or leave in bulk form. We make them both ways to use in different recipes.
- For venison sausage links: Soak the sausage casings in water for at least 30 minutes before stuffing them. I like to run water through each strand of casing to get all the salt out of them.
Push one strand of casings up onto the stuffing pipe attachment on your grinder and start pushing the sausage through to stuff the casing. Take your time and fill the casings almost all the way but careful not to tear it.
Once all the casings are stuffed, leave the sausages out to dry for at least one hour. If you can hang them in your refrigerator overnight then do so. Then you can either smoke them in a smoker or freeze them raw. When you do cook the sausages, cook in butter and onions for about 25 minutes on the stove or cook on the grill like you would your favorite smoked sausage.
- For bulk venison sausage: Bag up venison mixture and freeze into 1- to 2-pound packages. I always use a Food Saver vacuum machine to freeze any proteins and especially wild game. I use this as a ground meat option for meat sauce or make large patties for a sausage Po-boy on French bread.