Hunting in our house has become a family ordeal. With five kids, homeschooling, working with farmers, landowners, food banks and running NoHungryPeople.org, food definitely takes up a lot of our time.
The fact that all we eat in our home is 100 percent wild, healthy, lean, hunter-harvested venison is a definite perk for all the hard work.
So when Dad comes home from a hunt with fresh meat in the back of the truck, all the kids jump into action.
The first question is always the same: "Daddy, are we having sausage tonight?"
We use this exact recipe at our landowner meetings, farmers market cooking demonstrations, farm to fork dinners and all of our educational workshops at the North Carolina cooperative extension offices for Backyard Bow Pro.
There's no fat, no pork and no lack of great flavor in this super healthy venison sausage recipe. This is by far my favorite recipe; it has won me many cook-offs and landed me hundreds of acres of prime hunting land.
If you butcher your own deer, save every scrap piece of meat you cut off and place it in a Ziploc bag to use later. People might say I am crazy, but for an excellent sausage you need excellent meat. That's why I like to add at least one back strap to the mix. Make sure to cut out as much fat and sinew as you can to make sure it will have a great flavor and texture.
Notice that this recipe has zero fat in it. Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time adding fat to one of the leanest and healthiest red meats you can put in your body.
With this recipe, I leave out the fat, which is the liquid/moisture content for the sausage. Instead, I replace the fat with the same liquid/moisture using vegetables instead. That way you keep the super healthy aspect of eating venison, and it tastes incredible.
Cut and then grind all the venison, using the medium plate.
Now mix the powdered milk and water together to form a paste and add this to the mixture and mix very well. If you have a stand mixer, use it with the paddle attachment.
Soak you sausage casings in water for at least 30 minutes before stuffing them. I like to run water through each strand of casing to get all the salt out of them.
Now the real fun begins, and you can make the decision to either put the sausage in casings or leave in bulk form. We do both to use in different recipes.
Push one strand of casings up onto the stuffing pipe attachment on your grinder and start pushing the the sausage through to stuff the casing. Take your time and fill the casings almost all the way but careful not to tear it.
Mix all the other ingredients together except for the powdered milk and iced water, including the cooled down vegetables mix, into the ground venison.
Venison Sausage Recipe
3 pounds of trimmed venison cut in cubes, almost frozen
1 pound of ground mixed vegetables (see instructions below)
1 cup non-fat dry milk powder-mixed with 2 ounces cold water 3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tbls fine ground black pepper
1 tbls ground white pepper
2 tbls Fennel seed, ground
1 tsp Star Anise, ground
3 tbls Paprika
Venison Sausage Recipe
2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbls marjoram
2 tbls ground bay leaves
2 tbls dijon mustard
1 tbls mustard powder
6 tbls fresh minced garlic
1 tbls garlic powder, 1 tbls onion powder, 1 tsp ground ginger
1 package Hog Sausage Casings
Once all the casings are stuffed, leave the sausages out to dry for at least one hour. If you can hang them in your refrigerator overnight then do so.
Now, either smoke them in a smoker or freeze them raw. When you do cook the sausages, cook in butter and onions for about 25 minutes on the stove or cook on the grill like you would your favorite smoked sausage.
For Patties, just bag up and freeze in 1- to 2-pound packages.
I always use a Food Saver vacuum machine to freeze any proteins and especially wild game. I use this as a ground meat option for meat sauce or make large patties for a sausage Po-boy on French Bread.
Instructions for Ground Vegetables:
Start with 3-4 onions, red and green bell peppers, green onions, one head of celery, fresh parsley, fresh basil, and two bulbs fresh fennel. Mix all these and grind/puree' to equal 1 pound.
Run these vegetables through the grinder first (including the garlic) and then cook the mixture for 15 minutes on medium. If your venison is already ground, use a food processor to finely chop this vegetable mixture and then cook on medium for 15 minutes.
1. Follow the instructions for ground vegetables above, then transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool all the way down to below 40 degrees.
Chef Derek St.Romain is the Chef at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center and is the regional coordinator for Backyard Bow Pro, a non-profit organization helping fight hunger. When he is not creating incredible, healthy food in his kitchen during the day, Chef Derek is working hand in hand with local farmers, hunters and food banks to feed people with hunter harvested venison. Chef Derek is originally from New Orleans, La., and because of Hurricane Katrina he now resides in Burlington, N.C. Chef Derek considers himself a Cajun, husband, father and true conservationist who loves anything and everything hunting and food related.