Tuesday, January 12, 2016

English Style Venison Sausages or Bangers

My family knows all too well that I love sausage. Maybe it is my German heritage but I really like the convenience of meat in a small package. There is no end of variations and almost every culture has their own recipes. My son's girlfriend brought us a vacuum-wrapped package of venison backstrap from her brother and I knew I had to try making some sausages with them. After looking around for a good recipe, I couldn't decide on just one and instead came up with the following concoction of my own.

One of the additions mentioned in the English style sausages recipes was a form of grain like oats or barley for their added texture. Unfortunately, I was out of barley - my favorite grain and had to substitute regular oats. Next time, the barley will be in my pantry, ready to add.

I chose fennel seed as the flavor really enhances the flavor of meat. Instead of chopping raw onions, I opted for dried onion flakes and garlic powder to keep the flavors concentrated. I still had some parsley growing outside my kitchen door and perennial thyme. To save a little time, I assembled the ingredients before I got started.

Then, I chopped the thyme and parsley as well as the celery pretty finely. Keeping some texture would look nice in the sausage.

The venison was easy to slice through as it was the backstrap - a beautifully tender and silverskin-free chunk of meat. My package of pork jowl was presliced so I only had to cut it in one direction. You can see the deep redness of the venison in the picture.

I combined all the ingredients except for the beer in a large bowl. Placing the combination of meat and ingredients through the meat grinder was my way of incorporating everything evenly.

I was happy to find that the mixture went through the grinder nice and cleanly, mostly because I didn't make the mixture too wet. The course grind was perfect and I only had to put the meat through once.

The contents of one good English bottle of Bass beer was the next addition to my sausage mixture. I used a large stainless steel spoon to stir the liquid, although the meat mixture absorbed it almost immediately.

 Time for the test. Simply fry up a portion and see how it tastes and adjust the seasons if necessary. Mine needed a little more salt and sriracha to give the flavor a boost without being spicy.

When I grabbed the sriracha sauce, I noticed some green peppercorns in my cupboard and thought "why not?"

I neglected to take a picture of me sliding the pork casing over the sausage stuffing tube. My pork casings are stored in salt in a plastic container in my freezer. When I take them out, they look like worthless dried up strings. After about 30 minutes of soaking in clean cool water, they come back to life and are very resilient.

I twisted them into six inch sections and then wrapped them in a plastic bag to refrigerate. We sauteed some in a little butter and served them up the next night over a garlic and parmesan pasta and everyone loved them. The flavors were not overwhelming at all and the coarse texture was enjoyable.

So here is my recipe for English Style Venison Bangers:

2.5 lbs. venison trimmed of all fat and silver skin
2 lbs. of pork jowl
¼ tsp red pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp. dried onion flakes
8 oz. rolled oats
½ stalk of celery chopped finely
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. sriracha sauce
2 tbsp. honey
1 bottle of beer
Pork casings

Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks. Finely mince the celery and fresh herbs. Mix all the ingredients except for the beer in a large bowl and combine.

Grind the mixture through a meat grinder on at a coarse setting.

Mix the ground meat with the bottle of beer.

Feed the meat mixture through a sausage stuffer into casings. (Optionally, you can form patties.)

Tie off the ends. Prick the length of the sausage with a needle to release air pockets. Form links by twisting in alternate directions every six inches.

Cover with plastic or zip lock bag and refrigerate. Use within 24 hours or freeze for use later.

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