Venison and Beet Sausages

I’ve already posted recipes for goose sausageslake trout sausages, salmon sausages (with beef fat). With two deer in the freezer, venison sausages were the natural thing to do next, and I might very well come up with more than one version. Today’s venison sausages are made with beets.

Beets contain a flavor compound called geosmin that’s responsible for their earthy taste. In fact, the word geosmin comes from “earthy smell” in Greek. This is the same compound that you find in red wine with earthy notes, and fish with a muddy taste (more on this here). I couldn’t find a list of the flavor compounds in venison, but in my sausages, the smell from the beets serves as a subtle reminder of the deer’s natural habitat. While you can’t really pinpoint the beet flavor in the final product, you do taste something that complements the flavorful venison meat.

Venison Sausages

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Salmon River Salmon Sausages

Last year, I made Lake Trout Sausage with trout caught in Keuka Lake. This recipe uses Chinook salmon from the Salmon River, but the difference doesn’t stop there. This is really a sausage that copies the model of your usual meat sausage, and it’s definitely not pescatarian. In order to get the level of greasy goodness I want, I’m using beef fat. As it turns out, beef shares many chemical compounds with salmon, and when you think about it, in American food, salmon’s a little bit like the beef of the sea: fatty, full-flavored, and even cut into steaks.

Natural sausage casings can be purchased here, and your butcher’s likely to give you fat from steak trimmings for free. Of course, you’ll need a meat grinder and sausage stuffer.

Salmon River - Salmon Sausages

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Lake Trout Sausages

This is my last lake trout recipe for a while, I promise! Not only do these sausages buy you a couple days before you have to eat them (because you have to eat your trout tartare and your seared trout fillets first, remember?), they also make use of a lot of fish trimmings. I serve them with a simple mix of thinly sliced onion and fennel tossed with salt, sumac, chives, lemon juice and olive oil.

Natural sausage casings can be purchased here. As far as hardware is concerned, if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, the food grinder and sausage stuffer attachments will do a perfect job as long as you don’t plan to start your own commercial operation.

This recipe also makes fish stock. You can freeze the stock and use it for another recipe, such as a fish soup, into which you could blend any leftover trout trimmings, as well.

Cooked trout trimmings
Yields over 10 oz cooked trimmings and 2 qt fish stock

30 oz trout heads and bones
1/2 oz olive oil
3 oz onion
2 garlic cloves
8 oz dry white wine
6 thyme sprigs
3 parsley branches
24 oz water

  • Season the heads and bones with salt and pepper, and sauté in olive oil over high heat in a pressure cooker without the lid. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add the white wine, bring to a boil and simmer for a couple minutes. Add the thyme, parsley and water. Cover and pressurize over medium heat, then cook for 20 minutes. Let cool.
  • Pass the liquid through a chinois and reserve for another recipe. Pick the meat from the fish heads and bones. You can keep the lean flesh, the fat, the gelatinous head matter — taste it and decide! Keep in mind this will all be blended in the sausages, so you can err on the adventurous side (do you know what meat parts are used in hot dogs?!). The amount will vary greatly based on your choice, but you should have at least 10 oz. Let cool and refrigerate.

Lake trout sausages
Yields 10 sausages

5 ft sausage casings (natural hog, 1 1/4″-1 3/8″ diameter)
2 oz butter
1 oz Arborio rice
3 oz chicken stock
2 oz ice cubes
10 oz cooked trout trimmings
0.3 oz smoked salt
1 tsp Urfa pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
16 oz cleaned trout fillet
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 oz olive oil

  • Soak the sausage casings in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 of the butter over medium heat, add the rice and cook for 1 minutes. Season with salt, stir in 1/3 of the chicken stock, cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add the rest of the chicken stock in 2 more pours, until the rice is cooked. Mix in the rest of the butter and let cool.
  • Transfer the rice to a blender with the ice cubes, trout trimmings, smoked salt, Urfa pepper and onion powder, and blend until smooth.
  • Grind the trout fillet using the large die of the grinder. Combine with the blended mixture and the chives, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the inside and outside of the casings with cold water, pat dry, and stuff using a sausage maker. Refrigerate the sausages, loosely covered, for at least 24 hours.
  • To serve, poke the sausages with a fork on all sides, and sauté in olive oil over low heat, turning regularly.

Goose Confit, Sausages, and More

In Hungary, raising geese is a centuries-old tradition, its secrets handed down from generation to generation. A whole bird is used to prepare all kinds of dishes: roasts, soups, and even fat that will be spread on bread. Similarly, I wanted to explore a variety of ways to prepare all the parts of a goose, thus providing an exciting alternative to a whole roast, where, invariably, the breast is overcooked or the legs are underdone. I’ll let you decide how you want to piece all these recipes together; you could try serving all the elements over some flageolet beans.

For the sausage recipes below, you can find specialty ingredients (casings, curing salt) and hardware here. Remember to always work fast to make sure the meat remains cold throughout the preparation, returning the mixture to the freezer for a few minutes if necessary.

Goose fabrication
Yields about 12 large servings

2 geese of 10-12 lb

  • Separate the wings, legs and breast from the carcass. Reserve the legs with their skin for the goose confit. Reserve enough skinned breast meat for the goose “saucisson à l’ail”. Pick the meat from the carcass and bone the wings. Reserve enough skinned carcass, wing and breast meat for the goose liver sausage. Reserve the goose liver for this purpose as well.
  • Render all the unused skin and fat to make goose fat.
  • Use all the bones, neck and remaining offals to make goose stock.
  • Serve any remaining goose breast pan-seared, skin-on.

Goose confit
Yields 4 legs of goose confit

4 goose legs
kosher salt
1/2 tsp curing salt
8 oz goose fat
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
12 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
4 peppercorns, crushed
2 cloves
2 juniper berries

  • Weight the legs, then weigh 3% of that weight in salt. Cover the legs with the salt mixed with the curing salt.
  • Place the salted goose legs, goose fat, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves and juniper berries into sous-vide pouches. Cook in a 166 F water bath for 20 hours.
  • Before serving, remove the legs from the pouches, and sear in a hot pan, skin side down, until crispy.

Goose “saucisson à l’ail”
Yields 3 saucissons, each 7″ long

18 oz goose breast, medium dice
8 oz pork fat back, medium dice
3 oz peeled garlic cloves
8 oz rendered goose fat
3 oz breadcrumbs
14 g salt
1/2 g curing salt
2 g black pepper, ground
2 g onion powder
2 g fennel pollen
2-3′ hog middles (2″ diameter casings)

  • Place the goose breast and pork fat back in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan, cover with the goose fat, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Let cool.
  • Mix all the meats, drained garlic cloves, breadcrumbs, salt, curing salt, pepper, onion powder and fennel pollen. Grind the mixture through the large die. Stuff the forcemeat into the casings and twist into 7″ links. Cover with parchment paper, and refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours, turning the sausages every 12 hours.
  • Prick the sausages with a fork, and cook in a 171 F water bath for 30 minutes.
  • Before serving, cut the sausages into 1″ chunks and cook in a pan over medium heat until brown on all sides.

Goose liver sausage
Yields 12 sausages, each 4″ long

21 oz goose meat without skin, medium dice
12 oz pork fat back, medium dice
6 oz goose (or other poultry) liver, medium dice
4 oz onion, small dice
1 tbsp rendered goose fat
15 g salt
1/2 g curing salt
4 g garam masala
4 g porcini flour
9 thyme sprigs, stems removed
3 oz red wine, chilled
4-5′ hog casings (1 1/4″ diameter casings)

  • Place the goose meat, pork fat back and liver in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Sauté the onion in the goose fat until golden brown, and let cool.
  • Mix all the meats with the onion, salt, curing salt, garam masala, porcini flour and thyme. Grind the mixture through the small die. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, add the red wine, and whip on medium speed for 1 minute. Stuff the forcemeat into the casings and twist into 4″ links. Cover with parchment paper, and refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours, turning the sausages every 12 hours.
  • Prick the sausages with a fork, and cook in a 171 F water bath for 10 minutes.
  • Before serving, finish the sausages in a pan over medium heat until brown on all sides.