I’ve been stocking up on homemade charcuterie for the last Charcutepalooza challenge. I want to include wild game in my final dish (it won’t be revealed until next week) to make it more authentic. I thought it would be easy to get some venison since we have more deer than we know what to do with here in Texas. At least that was my impression.
Last January, we packed up the car and moved from New York City to Austin. As we approached our final destination in Texas, we saw about 20 deer chomping on leaves, flowers, landscaping and whatnot. I felt like we were venturing deep into the wilderness, and it made me nervous. I wanted to cry out to Dustin, “Where the hell are you taking me?!” I had seen maybe three deer in all of my time growing up in Rhode Island.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered how difficult it is to buy venison. A few stores around town sell venison from New Zealand, which is patently absurd. The FDA has almost prohibitively strict standards related to selling wild game in retail outlets. My only option was to order from Broken Arrow Ranch, a meat purveyor here in Texas that is permitted to sell field harvested wild game by bringing a meat inspector with them on hunts.
Venison & Wild Boar Sausage based on Chef Milos’s Country Venison Sausage from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie. Makes about 2.5 lbs of sausages.
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, lean venison
- 1 lb. wild board belly
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon pink salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup ice water
1. Combine all the ingredients except the water and toss to mix thoroughly. Chill until ready to grind.
2. Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice.
3. Add the water to the meat mixture and mix with a sturdy spoon, gradually adding the water until it is incorporated and the mixture develops a uniform, sticky appearance.
4. Saute a bite-sized portion of the sausage, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
5. Stuff the sausage into the hog casings, and twist into 6-inch links. Let dry 1 to 2 hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
6.Hot-smoke the sausages at a temperature of 180 degrees to an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Transfer to an ice bath to chill thoroughly, then refrigerate.
Tasting these sausages was rather climactic after researching wild game sources, emotionally ordering the meat, waiting for the delivery, and making them. I was apprehensive as usual, scared that the wild boar would be too musky and that the sausages’ strong, gamey flavor would permeate my dish. But now I’m excited! These sausages taste like the best, meatiest, most flavorful kielbasa ever, and I think they’ll be the perfect ingredient.