Simple Recipe For Venison Summer Sausage in the Oven
Did you ever wonder from whence the term summer sausage sprang when it is actually popular around Christmas? I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of giving the pre-packaged gourmet gift boxes complete with a summer sausage and a bottle of wine.
Summer sausage came from the custom in North America of curing meat in winter to preserve it until summer without refrigeration. Even today some dry and semi-dry sausages do not require refrigeration.
Summer sausage is a semi-dry product that falls midway between salami and fresh sausage (i.e. bologna) in texture and moisture content.
Tallow from a naturally lean protein game source gives venison summer sausage its unique flavor.
There are several methods of making summer sausage to ensure good curing and consistent results. Would it surprise you to discover a simple recipe for venison summer sausage in the oven? If you can make hamburger patties, this recipe will teach you step by step how to create homemade summer sausage from deer meat.
What is Curing?
Simply stated, curing is the addition of particular salts to meat to slow or stop the growth of bacteria. It was more prevalent before refrigeration. Whether the meat is then cooked or undergoes another class of processing determines whether you have bacon, Italian sausage or bratwurst.
It may seem small, but the curing process is one of the most important fundamentals to ensuring your summer sausage is adequately preserved and meets taste standards. Cooking, curing salts and refrigerating are all part of the chemical process responsible for the qualities inherent in summer sausage.
What you will need to make summer sausage
- 3 lbs of ground venison
- 1 lb of ground beef – An alternative meat source is added to venison summer sausage to add fat content to your base ingredients. If you do not have sufficient fat in your sausage mixture, your end product will turn out excessively dry.
- Some use pork from a shoulder or butt roast or other cut. Pork serves the same purpose as beef, but you may need to use more or less of it depending on how much fat it has. Your aim should be approximately 20% to 30% fat in your mixture.
- 2 c of water
- 1 tsp of onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 4 tsp black pepper (cracked or coarse preferred)
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 4 tablespoons of Morton Tender Quick Salt - Quick salt is specific to the Morton brand. Other curing salts or even curing sugars may be substituted. However, sea salt or table salt can never be substitute for curing salts and you should not vary the specified amounts. Quick salt is composed of a set ratio of high grade salt, sugar and other curing ingredients.
*If you want your sausage rolls to pop with flavor and a little heat, try working a combination of cheese and jalapeno peppers into your ground meat mixture. The mixture gives the sliced sausage an attractive marbled appearance, and cheddar compliments the venison.
- 2 jalapeno peppers, diced
- 1 ¾ c shredded cheddar cheese
Part of what makes this recipe so simple is that you will not need a grinder or food processor or any sausage casings.
- broiler rack
- broiler pan or other shallow pan
- Aluminum foil
Phase I: Prep and Chilling
- Mix all ingredients by hand until well blended.
- Form the mixture into 8-inch long logs, packing the meat mixture as tightly as you can. You want the end result to be firm and dense, not loose like meatloaf. The diameter of your rolls should be about 2 to 2 ½ inches.
- Wrap the loaves tightly in aluminum foil with the shiny side inward.
- Refrigerate the wrapped logs for 24 hours. Do not skip this step. Your sausages are undergoing curing even at this early stage.
Phase II: Cooking Sausage
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove sausage logs from the refrigerator and pierce the bottom side of each with a fork. Keep them wrapped.
- Remove rack and pan from your broiler and lightly spray with nonstick olive oil. The oil use will greatly speed up your cleaning time and keep the aluminum foil from sticking to the cooking surfaces.
- Place the wrapped logs on the broiler rack and set that rack atop your broiler pan. Slide everything into your oven. The pan will catch any drippings that may seep outside the aluminum foil. The preparation steps you took not only form your sausage rolls but also help keep your cooking relatively clean.
- Bake the sausages on the broiler pan for one and a half hours.
- Unwrap your sausage and place back on the rack over the broiler pan to allow any additional drippings to fall away from your new links.
- Once the sausage logs have cooled, wrap them tightly in saran wrap and refrigerate or freeze them.
*Another storage idea is to slice the sausage and then wrap and freeze it in small convenient portions.
Serving Venison Summer Sausage
Venison summer sausage is an excellent snack. You can serve it with fruit and crackers as part of an appetizer course. I like it as picnic fare after a long hike because it gives a boost of energy without feeling heavy. It is convenient fare with which to undertake horseback riding or other outdoor ventures.
Venison summer sausage rolls are classic additions to gift baskets. The sausage pairs nicely with cheese and wines. Creating your own gift package with homemade venison sausage allows you to infuse a personal touch to a tried-and-true Christmas present.
You can add venison summer sausage to stew or soup. Mince or dice half a sausage roll to give soup additional flavor and turn it into a heartier meal. It also adds a unique taste to gumbo.
Summer sausage provided a convenient means to pack a protein staple for early North American settlers. Today we still enjoy the savory and unique flavor of cured meats, specifically summer sausage.
I used to buy venison summer sausage all the time for parties during special occasions and as a convenient gift. I began to wonder if I could make it myself. I was excited to find a recipe for a summer sausage that is easy and tasty.
Did you find this tutorial informative? I hope this article proved both helpful and interesting. Have you tried to make summer sausage at home? Have you ever seen a recipe for creating venison summer sausage in the oven? If you have any comments or tricks that worked for you, feel free to leave a comment. Share this article with friends and family if it helped you. Perhaps you know a secret ingredient.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will summer sausage keep in the refrigerator?
If you buy summer sausage at the store and it’s stored in a vacuum-sealed package, it will last up to three months in the refrigerator. Homemade summer sausage and opened sausage is best consumed within three weeks. If you’re making your sausage in bulk and cannot eat it within the time period, we would recommend freezing it until you’re ready to eat it. You can even pre-slice it before freezing it for convenience!
Can you eat summer sausage raw?
Well, summer sausage is not exactly raw because it’s already been cooked. They do need to be stored in the refrigerator, but they’re a fully cooked, semi-dry sausage. That means you don’t need to grill it, cook it in the oven, or heat it up before eating it. Just slice it and serve it up!
Do you have to take the skin off summer sausage before eating it?
In our technique, we don’t use any casing at all. We simply roll our sausage in aluminum foil before baking it. Then, we remove the foil, let them cool, and wrap them in plastic wrap before storing. In this case, you wouldn’t eat the plastic wrap, so there’s nothing to remove before eating the sausage! If you buy a store-bought summer sausage, you probably want to remove the casing before consuming the sausage.
Can you pan fry summer sausage?
Even though you can eat summer sausage without any additional cooking at all, many people like to heat it up before eating it. It's also a popular ingredient for soups or dishes like gumbo. It’s especially delicious when you slice it and pan fry it in a cast iron skillet or on a hot griddle. This caramelizes the outside of the sausage slices, adding an extra layer of flavor to an already delicious sausage.
How long do you cook venison summer sausage?
Venison summer sausage should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees F. This is best achieved in a low-temperature smoker or in the oven at 325 degrees. Depending on the temperature you’re cooking at, this could take 90 minutes to three hours.