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I was lucky enough to get a monster buck this season, and ended up with way more ground venison than I normally do. So I decided to buy a summer sausage kit from Hi Mountain. With so much meat to process, I also decided to skip my little hand crank grinder and upgrade to the Kitchenaid grinder attachment. Good call on that one!

The grinding of the venison went smoothly, except that I had to stop regularly to clean the blade of excess connective tissue. I was using 12 pounds of venison and 3 pounds of center cut bacon. I would not recommend doing this much at one time with basic equipment because it's hard to keep everything cold.

The kit came with 2.5"x20" collagen casings. I bought the sausage stuffer attachment that goes with the Kitchenaid grinder attachment, but the Kithenaid grinder is terrible for stuffing. My advice to anyone is that all grinders are terrible for stuffing. Trust isn't worth your time or the frustration. I ended up stuffing the meat into the cases by hand. I plan on getting a 5 pound vertical stuffer from Northern Tool.

So here's where things got confusing. The directions with the kit stated to heat the sausages for 1 hour at 120 to dry the casings, then smoke them at 140 for 1 hour, then 30 minutes at 160, then 180 degrees until you get them to 156 internal. I read on this forum to do roughly the same thing. The problem is my SM20 doesn't go lower than 140. So I used my SM20 with the door open for the first hour, then followed the rest of the instructions.

After 14 hours, my five 3-pound sausages finally reached 156 degrees...or so I thought. Three of them were at 156 degrees. One was over 160 degrees and one was at 149 degrees. I also found that if I took temperatures at opposite ends of the sausage, I got different readings. All five of the sausages shrunk noticeably. I put the four that were up to temperature in an ice water bath until the internal temp was under 90, then left them to dry for two hours. The last one is still in the smoker.

Any ideas what I did wrong? Maybe I should have stepped up the temperature slower and gone hotter up to 190. Maybe less meat in the smoker would have allowed for more even and faster cooking. I don't know.
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Did you add any fat to your meat mix? I use around 20% pork fat. I also use a binding agent as well. Whey protein solids (powered milk/dairy flour binder). It will retain moisture and give it a good mouth feel. If you don't get the fat ratio correct and use some kind of binder even with a bought kit you run the chance of it shrinking and having a grainy texture.
Last edited by wilber
Hi Wilber. I used centercut smoked bacon that had plenty of fat. And I made sure to use a ratio of 4:1, so I had 20%. The kit contained 2 powders: cure and seasoning. The texture came out great and so did the flavor. Perhaps they add a little binder in the mix. I think my problem was that I loaded 15 lbs of meat into an SM20 (max 20 lbs, I think)and it took too long to cook.
I don't use the Hi Mountain stuff, but I take my summer sausage from the fridge to the FEC100 warmed up to 180°. I cook it at 180° until the meat hit 160°, and then toss into cooler of ice water, wipe off casings and hang for an hour or so, and then back to the fridge overnight. I built a custom rack for the FEC100 to put in the top slot that hangs 18 3# chubs and I can lay 5-6 more across the top if needed. Usually takes a good 8 hours at that temp before any are ready to come up. Will usually kick it up a little to 200 or 225 to finish the last couple ones if needed.

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