I have made summer sausage from kits and from recipes with all kind of exotic ingredients like encapsulated ascorbic acid, Fermento, high temperature cheese, etc. If you know the history of summer sausage, it was made by local people from local ingredients and just included meat and seasonings and then was smoked. With all my experimenting, I found I liked the old simple recipe and it is now my go to. Welcome to OFG Summer Sausage.
There are some things you need to know before making Summer Sausage.
First, the meat must be kept cold. If the meat is not kept cold, the fat can separate from the meat which will give a poor texture.
Second, you will be using curing salts. These are called Prague powder #1, Instacure #1, Pink Salt #1 or other names. Whatever it is called, you are looking for a product that is 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite. If it has these ingredients in that proportion, you can use it. Curing salts are needed to give the nice pink colour and to preserve the meat during the long slow smoke. You must use the exact proportions in the recipe as too little will not do this and too much is bad for you.
Third, when you smoke sausage, you must start at low temperatures and slowly increase them. If you just through the sausage in a hot smoker, the fat can melt out and your sausage will not have a nice texture and taste.
Fourth, you will need to get fibrous casings. These are wide diameter casings that allow smoke to permeate. They are not edible and have to be peeled off before slicing. You can get them from online sausage supply sites.
Summer sausage is usually made with lean beef or game so you have to add some pork to get a nice fat content and texture. I find equal parts of lean beef or game and pork shoulder works out well as pork shoulder has a high fat content. I used 500g (1 pound) of each and cubed the meat. I put the meat in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to chill.
I ground the meat through the medium plate on my KitchenAid grinder attachment.
I put the meat in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
While the meat was chilling, I mixed the seasoning ingredients and the ice water. I put that in the fridge to stay cold while the meat finished chilling.
I mixed the seasoning slurry into the meat by hand. I folded the meat over and pressed down 20 times to get a good mix.
I put the meat in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
I put the paddle attachment on my KitchenAid stand mixer and mixed for 4 minutes at medium low.
I put the meat in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill. While the meat was chilling, I put my fibrous sausage casings into warm water to soak.
I used my upright stuffer to stuff the meat into the casings and tied them off. I make small chubs as there are only two of us.
I put the chubs in the fridge for two days to let the curing salts and seasoning distribute.
I preheated my smoker to 140 F and put the chubs in. I smoked for two hours and increased the heat to 150 F. I smoked for one hour. I increased the heat to 160 F and smoked for another hour. I increased the heat to 170 F and smoked until the internal temperature of the sausage was 155 F.
I plunged the sausage into ice water for 10 minutes to stop the cooking process. Leave them out at room temperature for 2 hours and then refrigerate for at least overnight before using.
Of course, I had to try a sandwich!
This isn’t fancy. This is just good. A nice spice a great texture and a wonderful sausage. Give it a try!
The Old Fat Guy
I have done a video of this recipe:
- 500 grams (1 pound) lean beef or game
- 500 grams (1 pound) fatty pork shoulder or pork butt
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) ice water
- 3 grams (0.09 ounces) pink salt #1 (2 ml or 2/5 teaspoon)
- 12 ml (2 ½ tsp) table salt
- 5 ml (1 tsp) coarse ground pepper
- 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar
- 5 ml (1 tsp) garlic powder
- 4 ml (3/4 tsp) whole mustard seed
- 3 ml (1/2 tsp) onion powder
- 3 ml (1/2 tsp) nutmeg
- 3 ml (1/2 tsp) dried basil
- 3 ml (1/2 tsp) whole coriander seed
- 1 ml (1/4 tsp) dried marjoram
- 2 inch diameter Fibrous Casing, 16 inches long
- Make sure the meat is very cold before you start. It is also a good idea to refrigerate the beaters, bowls, grinders, stuffers and anything else that will come into contact with the meat.
- Put the fibrous casing in warm water to soak.
- Grind the meat with the medium plate of your grinder. Spread the meat on a tray or put it in a large bowl. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- In the mean time, mix the water and seasoning ingredients together. Put it in the fridge until you are ready to mix the meat.
- Put the seasoning mixture over the meat and mix by folding the meat over in half, rotating the bowl or tray one quarter turn and folding again. Do this for two minutes. Put the meat in the bowl of a stand mixer and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Using the paddle attachment, mix the meat on a stand mixer for 4 minutes. The meat should be almost paste like with some chunks in it. Put the meat in a fridge for 30 minutes.
- Set up your sausage stuffer with the largest stuffing horn you have and put the meat in it. The fibrous casings usually come with one end tied off. If not, tie off one end with butcher string. Push the open end of the casing over the horn and start stuffing getting the meat as packed as possible in the casing. Twist the open end until the meat is packed in the casing and tie it off with butcher string. Put the meat in the fridge for between 24 and 48 hours.
- Preheat your smoker to 140 F. For smoking Summer Sausage I like a strong smoke like hickory but have made fine sausage with oak, maple, and apple. Put the sausage in the smoker for 2 hours.
- Increase the heat to 150 F. Smoke for 1 hour.
- Increase the heat to 160 F. Smoke for 1 hour.
- Increase the heat to 170 F. Smoke to an internal temperature of 155 F.
- Plunge the sausage into ice water for 10 minutes to stop the cooking process.
- Let the sausage sit at room temperature for 2 hours and then refrigerate overnight before using.
Hi again. Dumb old fat gal here. I just found your summer sausage post. I make good salami but found summer sausage more difficult, in part because of the smoking. It’s kinda hard to precisely govern the temp of a smoker well enough to pasteurized the meat without melting the fat. I make a mean andouille but had problems with it being too dry because the temp would exceed 140° at some point in my smoking process. I solved the problem by cold smoking, followed by using a sous vide bath to bring the sausage to exactly the proper temp (140 in my process) without melting the fat. I just suck pack the smoked sausage, drop it into an old cooler filled with water, turn on the heat regulator and voila! Perfect pasteurized sausage, no fat rendered. I have an Anova sous vide circulator. I love it, and it really earns it’s keep when used to make great sausage.
Thanks for publishing your stuff. jb
Thanks for this information. I have cold smoked some sausage products and finished in the oven for better control over the heat but have become proficient enough with my charcoal smoker to control the temperatures. That being said, I have spoken to friends who use a sous vide bath to finish their sausage with great result. I have thought about purchasing one but She Who Must Be Obeyed says I can’t get a new toy unless I get rid of an old one. Sigh. I may have to make room for one.
Hi Jaye, the sous vide idea is a very good one, I had the same problem, then start using the oven, then I found out about sous vide! I found that this works best!
Just smoked a batch of 6 pounds today. Every one liked it! Just wondering if you’ve got any advice for mailing this kind of sausage…and if you prick your casings before smoking or not?
Did 80% beef / 20% pork, and skipped the coriander (thought I had some in the cupboard, but …).
2 hours cold-smoke w/ pecan, 8 hours hot smoke to get ‘er to 155.
BEST SUMMER SAUSAGE I’ve ever had.
How kind of you to let me know! Thanks very much.
I have always wanted to try making my own Summer Sausage. After finding your video, I have taken the plunge. My sausages are in the fridge right now doing their overnight thing. I am very excited about this, but I have one question ….How do I store them?
If I am not using the sausage in a week, I cut the chubs into chunks and freeze them. I also slice some up and put the slice in a vacuum bag, seal and freeze for a quick sandwich.
I’m taking my first try at making summer sausage. A group of guys with one senior mad scientist with the secret recipe makes 400 pounds every January for the past 30 years. I’m just the stuffer guy! But Covid cancelled those plans so I am on my own. I usually hang the finished product in my garage for a week or so to firm it up. It doesn’t go below freezing out there. Then I vacuum seal the sticks and freeze. I like a little firmer sausage but not all the way to Jerkey. I assume this is ok because it’s fully cured with the pink salt?
The nitrites in pink salt do help preserve the meat but are not bullet proof against spoilage. The longer the meat is out of refrigeration, the more the risk. There is a whole art to curing to get dry sausage that requires the right humidity and temperatures to be safe. I don’t have expertise in that art and haven’t experimented with it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in telling you that it was safe or not.