Everyone knows it is finally “Football Season!” And that means it is time to fire up the smoker/ BBQ for some great tailgate parties or just some great eating with family and friends. Of course, it is also hunting season and both events are ideal for breaking out some homemade Brats/Sausages for hungry hunters or your football fanatic friends that you made with your Big Chief or Little Chief Smoker and the Smokehouse Polish Sausage Mix.
Deli-made Brats/Sausages are going to cost you $13-$16 a pound. Ordered from some of the “big name” meat companies on the internet and you’re going to be over $20-$25 a pound with shipping!
For around $4 a pound, you can buy a combination of super market ground beef and pork, or grind your own combination of wild game meats and make your own smoked Brats/Sausages that will guarantee that you are the King-of-the-football BBQ party or hunting camp.
We used a combination of a 3-pound beef chuck roast and a 2-pound pork shoulder roast and quickly turned them into a grind mix with the Smokehouse ¾ horsepower meat grinder. High points for the grinder are that you can make your own grind and know its fresh; it has the power to take on the tough cuts of meat, and is both tough and affordable!
After you have your 5-pounds of either fresh or store-bought grind, you simple mix your meats together in a glass, plastic or stainless steel (non-aluminum) bowl and add the Smokehouse Polish Sausage Mix, along with one cup of water. The Mix is pre-measured for 5-pounds of meat, so if you want to make a smaller batch to begin with, just use half the package for a 2 ½-pound batch. The Mix contains all the seasoning and curing ingredients, and has no preservatives!
Massage the meats, spice Mix and water thoroughly, and then refrigerate the bowl for 12-24 hours. This gives the spices a chance to blend and intensify the flavors before you smoke-cure the sausage. After letting the meat cure, you’re ready to stuff the blend into casings and get them ready for the smoker. While the Smokehouse Sausage Mixes are flavorful and super easy to use, here is where you can also add your own special mix of everything from finely grated cheese (sharp cheddar is our favorite) to minced garlic or even chopped/mashed jalapeno peppers!
Smokehouse Products has a line of sausage casings that are made from Collagen and allow the smoke to penetrate the sausages/brats. They are also 100% edible. Just soak the “casing tubes” in cold water for about an hour before putting them onto the sausage-stuffing tube/plunger. If you use the Smokehouse Meat Grinder, you simply attach the sausage-stuffer tube, slide on one of the soft/pliable casings, and slowly re-feed your sausage grind through the meat grinder and into the casing.
Making your sausage/brats into any given length is really a subjective/personal thing, but keeping the long string divided into 10-12 inch lengths makes it easy to hang them from the rakes in your Big/Little-Chief smoker. Don’t be afraid to fill the long casing from one end to the other. After being filled, we just gently massaged the sausage casing and tied them off at the desired length with left-over grocery store “twisty ties.”
Smoke-curing the sausages will depend on air temperatures, relative humidity and the amount of sausages you plan on smoking.
Wired to the top rack in the Little Chief Smoker, 3-pounds easily hung vertically. Use the Big Chief Smoker and 5+ pounds of sausage will still have plenty of room to allow the smoke to circulate and not crowd them. Our two top flavor-choices for wood smoke were Apple and Cherry chips. Both are fruit-woods and give the sausage/brats a light “sweet” flavor without being overpowering like Hickory or Mesquite. Smoke your sausages with 3-4 pans of wood chips, and then finish the curing with heat only! Depending on your weather conditions, it takes between 12 and 24 hours to cook them up.
At this point in the process, the sausages/brats are fully smoke cured/cooked and ready to enjoy as soon as they come out of the smoker. However, if you want to add an additional and traditional flavor twist to the links, try boiling them/plumping them for about 10 minutes in a couple of cans of your favorite beer/ale or even in cola! We topped off our sausages with a couple of cans of mild “Bavarian-style” sauerkraut (with sesame seeds), and a dark-brown mustard on the side.
Once again, we should have doubled the recipe!
Article by Andy Lightbody. Photos by Kathy Mattoon.
Andy Lightbody and Kathy Mattoon are co-authors of ALL THINGS JERKY, The Definitive Guide To Making Delicious and Dried Snack Offerings (Skyhorse Publishing). Copies are available at www.amazon.com