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The Luxurious Center-of-the-Plate Entrée

Ideas for Dinners the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Hunters take pride in doing things right, pride in the game on the table, and pride when dinner guests rave about the meal, especially the meat. We made five kinds of sausage this year, three using commercial sausage mix, and two using our own family recipe.

There is something else. Bear season is just around the corner. Our extended family ordered a custom killed- hung-wrapped-beef split between us and my two boys’ families. Read: freezer jammed-packed. In addition to this, our five grandkids are pounding the dining room table in unison: “WE. WANT. SAUSAGE!” (Each of our families used the last of the sausage a few weeks back.)

Grilled bratwurst, hot mustard, and sauerkraut on a fresh-baked chewy bread roll is one of my favorite trail lunches, especially when the sausages are homemade. We usually build a small fire, cut a young aspen about the size of my middle finger, thread a sausage or two on it, and plan the afternoon hunt while it roasts to the color of mahogany. Eating last year’s game while pursuing this year’s target feels a combination of lucky and self-sufficient––pride that comes from making your own sausage.

You need three things to make good sausage: meat, spiced binder, and casings. The rest of the stuff here just makes the session go easier.

Here is the basic equipment for sausage making: a grinder, suffer and scale, along with a meat paper holder/ cutter and a tape dispenser. Missing from this photo is the sausage mixer with a hand crank.

High-Quality Sausage Meat

Taking excellent care of your game in the field means managing time and temperature to keep your future sausage meat clean and safe. When I butcher my animals, the shoulder and neck meat goes directly in heavy 10-pound bags and into the freezer. This size is easy to handle when it comes time to thaw and grind for sausage. Venison sausage requires the addition of fat to make the sausages tasty and hold together. Find yourself a good butcher that will sell you fat pork shoulder trim. My preference is one part pork trim to two parts venison.

Seasoning,  Binders,   and   Cures Salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs are the simplest of additions to make fresh sausages. The breadcrumbs are optional. Excellent pre-made seasonings, binders, and cures are available from butcher shops and outdoor suppliers in Alberta, or wherever you call home. I used Edmonton’s Butcher and Packers custom-blended sausage mix for three of the five sausages I made this season.

I had to buy my wife a new Kitchen Aide after I burned out our kitchen grinder. Now I have a proper commercial grade meat grinder.

Sausage Casings

Sausage casings are available in a variety of materials and sizes. Lamb, hog, and beef casings are available salted in bulk or threaded on plastic sleeves. This new packaging costs a few bucks more and simplifies threading casings on the filling spout. I highly recommend them. There is a man-made casing too, and a large casing for salami and other large sausages. I find the middle-sized pork casings are the go-to casings for most of my sausage.

My youngest son Josh is carefully manning the sausage stuffer to make sure they output is perfect.


My best advice about equipment is to spend the money. Find a couple of buddies and split the cost of equipment. It will run you upwards of $1,000, but that investment will pay for itself in a season or two and it will eliminate the barriers to efficient sausage-making. Start with a grinder, mixer, stuffer, and scales. You can add other equipment as you develop your sausage-making skills. My youngest son did the math with every new coil of sausages we put in the freezer. We ended the day with a freezer full of five different sausages. He figured the money saved over the store-bought season was $1,400.

  • Meat Grinder: The most important piece of equipment is the meat My strong preference is a near-professional one that will cost you $500 or so. A grinder of this caliber will grind the trim from a whole moose in a short afternoon.
  • Sausage Stuffer: The second piece of equipment is a sausage There are a few models, but I like the 10-pound tube with a hand crank (about $400). A sausage stuffer accelerates and simplifies the stuffing of casings.
  • Scale(s): You will need a commercial bench scale that goes to 25 kilograms, (about $100) and an electronic scale that goes to 500 grams ($100).
  • Mixer: A hand crank mixer blends ground meat, liquid, and seasonings perfectly. Do it!
  • Smoker: This is an optional luxury––but a requirement if you want to smoke your A basic smoker starts at about $275 and goes as far as you might want to go.
  • Food grade meat tubs: These are for mixing sausage meat by And for storing /chilling sausage meat ready for stuffing.

Here are directions for five kinds of sausages:

  • Bratwurst (from commercial mix)
  • Fresh Italian (family recipe)
  • Bourbon Maple Breakfast (family recipe)
  • Salami, hot smoked (from commercial mix)
  • Farmer’s Sausage, cold smoked (from commercial mix)
My eldest son Matt grinds venison for the sausage mixer.



  • 4 kg (14 pounds) of ground venison
  • 3 kg (7 pounds) of ground pork trim
  • 1 liter of dark beer
  • 900 ml of water (to dissolve the cure)
  • Commercial salami sausage mix including cure


  • Grind meat through fine
  • Mix dry sausage binder and spices through ground
  • Add cold
  • Dissolve nitrate cure in 900 ml of ice-cold water and pour over sausage.
  • Mix well and let sit for two hours in the
  • Stuff in manmade salami sausage
  • Squeeze the air out, close the end, and tie with cotton string.
  • Smoke hot (220˚F or so) until the internal temperature is 165˚F.
  • Chill, wrap, and freeze.
You can experiment with various liquid additions to find what suits your palate. In this case we are adding homemade brew.

BREAKFAST SAUSAGE (bourbon, and maple wild boar)


  • 4 kg (3 pounds) wild boar
  • 8 kg (4 pounds) fresh pork trim
  • 4 kg (9 pounds) of venison
  • 10 grams fresh sage (substitute 5grams dry sage)
  • 5 grams of fresh thyme (substitute 3 grams of dry thyme)
  • 45 grams bourbon (an ounce and a half or so)
  • 4 grams nutmeg
  • 45 grams fine salt
  • 10 grams fine black pepper
  • 260 grams of fine breadcrumbs
  • 750 milliliters of ice-cold water
  • 190 grams of maple syrup


  • Grind meats through the finest grinder
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the meat and mix
  • Weigh the fresh and dry herbs and spices; combine with bourbon and a bit of water to blend in the
  • Pour over the sausage meat and mix
  • Stuff in small lamb
  • Tie off in breakfast
  • Wrap and freeze.
Near perfect coils of sausage are both pretty and delicious.



  • 8 kg (15 pounds) of venison
  • 2 kg (7 pounds) of pork trim
  • 15 grams of fresh sage
  • 6 grams of fresh thyme
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 15 grams of smoked paprika
  • 10 grams of hot paprika
  • 15 grams of black pepper
  • 5 grams of garlic powder
  • 10 grams anise seed
  • 15 grams of fennel seed
  • 80 grams of fine salt
  • 350 grams fine bread crumb
  • 750 ml Chianti wine (these are Italian style, after all)
  • 250 to 750 ml of ice-cold water (depending on how dry your meat is)


  • Grind meat through the finest grinder plate and mix well.
  • Weigh, combine, and blenderize fresh herbs and spices, using 200 ml of the wine to help the
  • Weigh and combine the rest of the dry
  • Spread spices, herbs, and breadcrumbs over the ground meat.
  • Add remaining liquids and mix
  • Stuff casings, tie off in links or coils, as you
  • Wrap and freeze.
Here summer sausage is getting tied off before cold smoking.

FRESH OKTOBERFEST SAUSAGE (from Butchers & Packers – makes 10 Kg)

(Follow the instructions on the package)


  • 4 kg (14 pounds) of venison
  • 6 kg (8 pounds) of pork trim
  • Oktoberfest sausage mix
  • 1 liter of dark beer
  • 5 liters ice-cold water


  • Grind meat through the finest grinder plate and mix well.
  • Spread sausage mix over the ground
  • Add the liquids and mix
  • Stuff, tie off in links or coils, as you prefer.
Simple home-made brats packages in butchers paper freeze perfectly and are good for months.

FARMERS SAUSAGE (or Mennonite Sausage) Cold-Smoked


  • 4kg (14 pounds) of venison
  • 2 kg (7 pounds) of pork trim
  • Contents of sausage Butchers and Packers mix #FSM Y6855
  • 2 liters of water


  • Grind meat through the finest grinder plate and mix well.
  • Spread sausage mix over the ground
  • Dissolve the cure in 500 ml of
  • Pour over the sausage
  • Add the rest of the water and mix
  • Stuff, tie off in links or coils, as you
  • Let the sausages rest cooled in the fridge for four hours.
  • Arrange the sausages on the smoking rack so they don’t touch each other.
  • Cold smoke at 140˚F until mahogany colored.
  • Chill, wrap and

A note about smoke: cold smoke cook sausages. They still need to be cooked on the grill or in the oven. And hot-smoked sausages are safe to eat, but they can spoil in a few days. So, use hot-smoked sausages kept in the fridge within three days, and cook cold-smoked sausages to well done or an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F) according to the Canadian Government’s safe-cooking guidelines for sausages.

I love every aspect of hunting, but nothing beats the compliments that come from serving a plate of handmade sausages (except maybe having one yourself)––together with enjoying a bratwurst on the trail while planning the afternoon hunt.

Check out this great sausage mix bundle from HuntChef.#EATWHATYOUKILL

Your source for everything hunting!


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