Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Smokey Summer Sausage
Yesterday I posted about my sweet smoking set up. I got a request for delivery on some photos of the sausage I mentioned that I was smoking, I thought I would oblige.
I made some beef summer sausage according to a recipe I found in a cookbook of "selected Upstate New York recipes" published by the Junior League of Rochester some time ago (I am going to post about this book in the near future, it is full of gems). It is a fairly standard recipe as far as seasoning goes (mustard seed, allspice, coriander, cayenne, black pepper) but there are a couple solid pieces of methodology to be gleaned from the instructions.
First of all, it tells you to put the meat mixture into the fridge and knead once daily for three days. This is a tip that I have used in the past and it is essential for the final texture of the summer sausage. I am surprised at how many recipes out there do not contain this step.
A second deviation from the norm is that the recipe calls for a final internal temperature of only 140 degrees. Most more modern recipes call for 152-156 degrees. I find that taking all beef summer sausage up into the 150s makes for a somewhat drier end product. To tell you the truth, I find most "safe" cooking temps to be a bit too conservative. As long as you are dealing with a fresh whole muscle (5 pounds of chuck steak in this case) from a reputable source, and you grind it yourself, I see no problem in only cooking into the 140s. I would never make sausage with store bought ground meat, but if you do for some strange and terrible reason then it is probably best to cook to a higher temp.
I stuffed the 5 pounds of meat into 2 and 3/8" collagen casings (I made 3 chubs) and hickory smoked at 125 for 4 hours, then increased the temp. to 165 and cooked to an internal temp. of 140 as advised in the recipe.
After hosing the stuff down to 120 I dried it off and put it into the fridge. I like to wrap the chubs in paper towels and keep them in the vegetable drawer in the fridge for about a week before eating. If you do this the sausages dry out a bit and assume a nicer, firmer texture. But curiosity got the better of me an I sliced into one of them this morning.
I think these summer sausages were perfectly cooked and seasoned. Just enough hickory flavor too. Just look! There is no better feeling than when something like this comes out just how you wanted. I feel like a craftsman.
I was thoroughly satisfied by this batch of sausage. I will be munching on it with Giblet (the kid who eats nothing inexplicably devours all types of salami in shocking quantities) for months to come.
I have another "charcuterie porn" post in the queue and will probably post it later in the week. I put up 5 different types of dry-cured salami ever since moving into my new house (with its creepy, musty basement) and they have all been fairly successful.