Smoked Summer Homemade Sausage
Posted by Sarah & Coley Arnold
I have to admit, I am a huge summer sausage fan. When I go to a party or get together and there is a meat and cheese tray, I have a tendency to wipe the summer sausage off the map before the end of the night. There is just something about the combination of flavors that keeps me coming back for more. I had never thought of making my own summer sausage until recently, but once I started, I quickly became a believer in do it yourself summer sausage. Not only is it easy to do, you control what goes into your sausage, which to me is big deal. If you look at the ingredient list of any commercial summer sausage there is bound to be a least a couple ingredients you can’t pronounce. Plus you can also control the quality of the meat that goes into your homemade sausage. This recipe uses beef, but you could use other meats such as venison or bison. Just watch out if you use bison; however, because it is a very lean meat and you may need to add some additional fat to the recipe to keep the sausage from getting dry and crumbly.
- 5 lbs ground beef (I typically recommend 75 – 80% lean, but if you can’t find it that fatty, 85% lean will work just fine)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 T Morton Tender Quick
- 2 T Mustard Seed
- 3 T very coarse pepper
- 2 T garlic powder
- 1/2 T red pepper flakes (more if you’re feeling spicy)
- 1 T onion powder
- 2 T liquid smoke – (use if you do not smoke the sausage)
This is a 4 – 5 day process so plan accordingly. Begin by mixing all ingredients together in a large bowl. I use my hands to really get in there and mix things thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Once a day for the next 3 – 4 days, get the beef mixture out of the fridge and mix thoroughly. Cover the mixture again and place it back in the fridge.
The day before you plan on cooking the sausage, remove it from the fridge, mix thoroughly one last time and then separate the mixture into 4 equal parts. It is now time to form the sausage into logs. I don’t use a casing for my summer sausage because I smoke it and the casing would restrict the amount of smoke the sausage takes on. In order to form the logs I use a sheet of wax paper and work the mixture into a log that is about 2 and 1/2 inches thick. Then I wrap it in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Once I have all 4 logs rolled, back into the fridge they go overnight.
Now it is time to cook the sausage. I smoke my summer sausage, so I break out the smoker and use hickory as my smoke producer. If you want to try something different, cherry or apple wood would go well with this sausage. I smoke the sausage at a temperature of 185 degrees until the internal temperature of the sausage hits 165 degrees. This can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours depending on the weather conditions, how well I did maintaining the temperature of the smoker, etc. Once the meat is to temp, remove it from the smoke and allow to cool on a wire rack. It is a good idea to have a drip pan under the sausage as it cools. Once it is cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge.
If you don’t want to smoke the sausage, you can always cook it in the oven. In this case you would use the liquid smoke to add that smoky flavor to the sausage. Cook the sausage in the oven at 180 degrees or the lowest setting you have on your oven (mine only goes down to 200). Once again cook it until the internal temperature hits 165 degrees. This will take about 2 hours.
And there you have it. Homemade summer sausage that I think rivals most, if not all you can buy at the store.