Venison Jalapeno Cheese Sausage (updated 11/14/13)

Venison Jalapeno Cheese Sausage

Venison Jalapeno Cheese Sausage

     Even though sausage is probably one of my favorite smoked meats, its been awhile since we’ve made any. It’s just such a long process, but the results are well worth it. This past Christmas, I got a 5lb LEM Sausage Stuffer. Prior to that I was just using my grinder as a stuffer. While that works, it’s not really ideal. I had no idea how well my new sausage stuffer would work till we put it into action this past weekend. This thing is awesome!! If you are making sausage and don’t have a dedicated stuffer, I highly recommend picking one up.

LEM Sausage Stuffer. Sorry, I didn't get any pictures grinding or stuffing the sausage, but I've covered that before.

LEM Sausage Stuffer. Sorry, I didn’t get any pictures grinding or stuffing the sausage, but I’ve covered that before.

     After the last batch of sausage, Mrs. G informed me that she wanted to try a jalapeno cheese sausage. I like jalapeno cheese sausage, so I was not opposed.

Pork Shoulder and Back Fat

Pork Shoulder and Back Fat

     Friday, I was in need of some sausage casings and some pork shoulder. I’ve been wanting to try out Hirsch’s Meat Market in Plano for a while, so I gave them a call and they had everything I needed. If you are looking for a good butcher in Plano, I highly recommend them. Not only do they carry all kinds of meat, the carry a wide variety of wood from the basic mesquite and hickory, to pecan, peach, plum, citrus and grape, just to name a few. Super friendly staff and very helpful.

Look at the marbling in that pork shoulder!

Look at the marbling in that pork shoulder!

     They set me up with 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder (that had a ton of marbling) and .62lbs of pork back fat to make up for the lack of fat in my venison (in sausage, fat is your friend).

Meat is cubed

Can you tell which side is the pork and which side is the venison? I figured you could. 

          BTW, if you don’t have a scale, you are going to need to get one. (Did you know different salts weigh different amounts? That’s why using a volumetric amount for salt doesn’t make sense and weight does)

Ingredients

  • 2.25 lbs (36 oz) pork butt
  • 2.25 lbs (36 oz) venison
  • 0.01 lbs (.12 oz or 1/8 oz) granulated garlic
  • 0.02 lbs (0.38 oz or 3/8 oz) black pepper
  • 0.09 lbs (1.44 oz or 1 and 4/8 oz) salt
  • 0.03 lbs (0.40 oz or 3/8 oz) sugar
  • 0.03 lbs (0.40 oz or 3/8 oz) dried jalapenos or 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and deveined
  • 0.43 lbs (6.80 oz or 6 3/4 oz) cheddar cheese, cubed small
  • 3 to 5 oz of water
  • 0.01 lbs (0.12 oz or 1/8 oz) of Cure #1
Very important to test fry a patty before stuffing. You know...quality assurance? Gives you a chance to adjust your seasonings.

Very important to test fry a patty before stuffing. You know…quality assurance? Gives you a chance to adjust your seasonings.

Directions

  1. Cube up your pork, venison and back fat into pieces small enough to fit through your grinder. Place meat and all metal parts of your grinder into the freezer for 30 minutes. (Heat is your enemy when making sausage. It causes the fat to melt and smear. You don’t want that). After 30 minutes, assemble grinder and using a medium grind attachment, grind all your meat.
  2. Mix up the spices in a small bowl. Work the spices, jalapenos and cheese into the meat with your hands, adding the water in small amounts as you go.
  3. Take a small portion and test fry a patty. Adjust the seasonings as needed.
  4. At this point, the meat can be stuffed into hogs casings. I prefer to let it sit covered overnight in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld and marry and stuffing the next day, however.
  5. Stuff the hogs casings with the meat mixture following your stuffer’s instructions. I chose to do my sausage in 1lb links this time (or as close as I could get them, LOL), but you can make them whatever length or size you want.
  6. Allow sausage to sit out at room temperature for one hour to allow them to dry out. If you have a small fan, you can use it to blow across them. Meanwhile, set up your smoker as low as you can get it. 100F to 130 F would be ideal. Do NOT add wood for smoke at this point.
  7. Add your sausages to the smoker and allow to further dry for one hour.
  8. After one hour, bump the temperature to 140F and add wood chunks for smoke. We used pecan and some hickory chips. Every hour after, bump the temperature 10 more degrees until your sausage hits 155F.
  9. When your sausage hits 155F, remove from smoker and plunge into and ice bath to stop the cooking. Allow to cool.
  10. Once cooled, remove from ice bath and let bloom for one hour (Sit out at room temperature either on a drying rack or hanging up).
  11. Refrigerate or vacuum seal and freeze for a later date.
Onto the Egg!

Onto the Egg at 12:00 pm!

     I’d like to say that with my Big Green Egg and pit controller, I was able to follow my smoking instructions perfectly. Unfortunately, it was not to be. I was having a problem getting that small of a fire started. It went out once on me while I was trying to get it stable. I ended up putting the sausage on at 145-150F and about 25 minutes later, I had to pull everything out and restart the fire.

One hour in.

One hour in (1 o’clock).

     At one hour in, my fire was now at 170 (way to hot, way to early). I added two pecan chunks and some hickory chips for smoke. I also wiped away any moisture from the outside of the sausage casings and flipped the ones on top with the ones on bottom. Being open for so long allowed the temp to drop. By 1:30pm, the temp was sitting at 150F which was not so bad.

Two hours in, developing a nice shade of red

Two hours in, developing a nice shade of red (2 o’clock)

At two hours in, my temp was around 165. A little high, but still acceptable.

3 hours in, getting close.

3 hours in, getting close (3 o’clock).

 At 3, we were holding steady at 175 but now we were getting short on time. We had people coming over later and I still had to get to the store. So at 3:40, I opened the Egg up a bit to speed things along. By 4:10, we were up to 230F.

Finished at 4:30pm!

Finished at 4:30pm!

Once finished, the sausage was pulled and immediately plunged into an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Sausage taking a dip in an Ice bath.

Sausage taking a dip in an Ice bath.

     After cooling, the sausage was allowed to dry on some of those cookie cooling racks for an hour before most of it was sealed with a vacuum sealer and frozen for later. One link did go into the fridge to be sampled on Sunday. It was killing me to wait, but I had to get to the store and get some groceries and get cleaned up for company.

Sunday rolled around and I lit up the Egg to 400F and grilled up the sausage.

Sunday rolled around and I lit up the Egg to 400F and grilled up the sausage. Look at how juicy that is!!

     Mrs. G paid me high compliments on this sausage saying “This is the best sausage you’ve made so far!” and “This reminds me of the sausage my dad used to make when I was kid!” Can’t get better compliments than that, especially considering he used to have a BBQ business and made his own sausage.

     Me? I enjoyed it, but sometimes I’m my worst critic. It was plenty juicy and had great flavor. Good snap on the casing. But it just wasn’t perfect.

     For one, there wasn’t enough heat. I’d like to maybe had some cayenne or red pepper flakes or chipotle powder. Not sure, what do you think? I also didn’t really care for the jalapeno, it still had some crunch to it. Maybe sautee it down a bit or use dried jalapenos next time.

     Next comes the cheese. It didn’t melt away, but it did melt. I’m thinking I’m going to use high temp cheese (cheese specifically made not to melt, often used in sausage). Hirsch’s Meat Market has it, so I do have a local source.

     The final thing is the texture. I mean it was fine (not a pun, it was really coarse), but I’d like to see what a double grind would do. Once through the medium grind plate, and then a second time through the fine grind plate. But then again, I’m afraid it would end up with the texture of a hot dog, and I really don’t want that.

     Not sure, but I do know that I have enough deer in the freezer to make 15 more pounds. :) It was fun making sausage again, don’t know why we don’t do it more often. Oh yeah…’cause its messy (dish wise) and time consuming. But with the new stuffer, it was a breeze. Mrs. G said it was the fastest stuffing session yet. So expect to see more sausage soon. :)

Update (11/14/13)

15 lbs on 3 seperate racks, smoking away.

15 lbs on 3 seperate racks, smoking away.

A couple of weeks back, I made another batch of this sausage. 15lbs to be exact. I implemented some of the changes I talked about.

First, I took my jalapenos and gave them a quick pulse in the food processor. I then sautéed them up a bit in a skillet so that they would not have that “crunch”. Worked like a charm.

I stuck with a mild cheddar cheese, did not go to a high temp cheese. There’s something about high temp cheese. I’m just not a fan of it. This time when I smoked the sausage, I was able to maintain a temperature under 180F until the very end when I lost patience and jumped it up to 200F. Keeping a low temperature really prevented the cheese from melting in the sausage. I’ll stick with regular cheese.

Didn’t do anything about the heat level of the sausage. I really didn’t want this batch to be spicy.

The final change was the grind. I did a first grind with a medium plate. Then I mixed in my spices and did another grind with a fine plate. Gave it a different texture for sure. Neither a good thing or a bad thing, just different. Since it was fully smoked, I ate some cold and it reminded me of a summer sausage, both in taste and texture. Think I’ll continue the double grind.

Bagged, tagged and ready for future consumption

Bagged, tagged and ready for future consumption

Since we made the sausage, I think we’ve eaten 7 links already. We are both happy with it and so have all the other people who have tasted it.

A small snack.

A small snack.

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35 thoughts on “Venison Jalapeno Cheese Sausage (updated 11/14/13)

  1. Awesome, and well done. That’s something I’ve long meant to get into, but just never have got around to it. Looks like you had allot of fun. I might have to ask for the sausage stuffer for Christmas, and go from there.

    You do good work Griff!

    • Although it takes a lot of time, making sausage sure is fun and rewarding. Whatever you do, don’t get the Kitchen Aid grinder and stuffer attachment. I’ve heard nothing but bad things. I’m currently using a Kitchener #12 from Northern Tools (about $100) and an LEM 5lb stuffer ($150). You can do it with just the grinder, but a dedicated stuffers is well worth the money.

  2. It looks gorgeous, perfectly cooked, even if you did have temp problems. Didn’t know that they made non-melting cheeses. It would be fun to secretly slip some of that to someone making Jucy Lucy’s on April fools day, lol. They’d be freaking out about why their cheese wasn’t melting. I’m evil like that ;)

  3. This looks amazing. I would love the spreadsheet to calculate the sausage ingredients. I saw your post about breakfast sausages and can’t wait to try that too. Do you smoke your sausages on the BGE? I have an adjustable rig from Tom, but not a controller. Looking into them though.

    • Kathy, check your e-mail. I just sent you the spreadsheet. Let me know if it works. I do smoke them on my BGE (the ones that need to be smoked anyway). Controllers help if you want to keep the temps down really low (like 140 low)

      • Thanks Griffin! Spreadsheet downloaded just fine. Haven’t worked with it yet. Just learning the “ways” of sausage making. I really appreciate it. Next I need to decide on a controller.

      • Cool. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. As for the controller, you can spend anyhere from $99 to more than I’d feel comfortbale spending just depending on what bells and whistles you want. If you haven’t looked already, check out the Naked Whiz’s website. he’s got review on just about everything out there.

      • Thanks, I have been to the Naked Whiz’s site and looked over some of his reviews. Naturally, I want the DigiQ or the CyberQ WiFi. Tom also recommended him. I have a grinder attachment for my Wolfgang Puck stand mixer on it’s way and an attachment from LEM for a sausage stuffer shipped today. I have the Jerky Cannon already (great stuff), so I will see how well we “take” to making sausages, then we’ll go to the LEM 5 # vertical stuffer with metal gears. It’s just hubby and I, so a 5 #er ought to be just right for us.

      • Best of luck. Make sure to soak your casings and take your time. It’s when you rush that you end up getting “blow outs”. If you need any advice, let me know. If you get into sausage making, I highly suggest a vertical stuffer. Makes is so much easier. We have the 5# and its just the wifey and I and it works great.

      • Thanks Griffin! Will do. I think we’ll enjoy sausage making. It just makes sense to not buy commercially made sausage due to the fat content. Looking forward to it.

  4. This Sausage recipe turned out great! I would love to get the spreadsheets to calculate sausage recipes. Great Site, Great Food, Great Job!

    • Sent a reply to you this morning. I used DQ Curing Salt which can be used interchangeable with Cure #1, Prague Powder # 1, Insta-Cure, Modern Cure. Any Curing salt that contains 6.25% sodium nitrite.

  5. I grow my own Jalapenos and store some in the freezer each year. They aren’t as crunchy as fresh when they are thawed out. Just an idea instead of cooking them. Can I please get a copy of the spreadsheet also?

  6. Hey this my first year of trying my hand at making smoked deer sasuage. Been looking for how much cheese, jalapeno, fat, and pork to put in my mixter. That spread sheet sounds pretty nice. Where can I get my hands on something like that. Thanks for sharing Griff

  7. Making 100 lbs. of sausage tomorrow look forward to some jalapeno cheese links. Would love the conversion chart for the sausage ingredients. Thanks vk

  8. My buddy us a big hunter and we are always looking for great new recipes for the meat. This one is perfect. I would love the sausage spreadsheet to try some new recipes.
    Thanks.

  9. AWSOME post bro, looking forward to trying this. Would you please send a copy of that spread sheet, I’m looking for other sausage recipes.

  10. Hello again,
    Made sausage this weekend using this recipe and it turned out great! Thanks so much for the recipe. I decided not to smoke mine (as i did not have adequate time), but instead cooked some for supper in the oven with some beer and froze the rest. Very tasty. I would like to experiment with some other types of wild meat and some different flavouring – anyway i can get a copy of the spreadsheet you mentioned above?? Thanks so much. Kaila

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