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Cooking: Spicy Summer Sausage

Spring is the best time for making snow goose summer sausage
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By Scott Leysath

Snow geese make terrific summer sausage, and what better time to prepare it than during the spring migration? The conservation order means there's no limit on how many of these light geese you can harvest during this season. And all you need to create your own signature summer sausage is a food processor, a roll of aluminum foil, a thermometer, and a handful of ingredients. 

I use a fair amount of fresh garlic and cracked black pepper in this recipe. However, feel free to substitute your own favorite flavors. I often produce a spicier variety of homemade summer sausage, usually heated up with finely minced hot peppers or chili flakes. What you put into yours is your own business, and you can tweak the recipe each time you make a new batch until you discover the perfect spice combination to excite your palate.

Snow Goose Summer Sausage

This recipe calls for 4 pounds of ground goose meat. If you don't have a small kitchen scale, you can measure the meat by the cupful; one cup of firmly packed ground meat weighs about half a pound. A food processor can serve as a makeshift meat grinder. Simply cut the goose meat into 1- or 2-inch chunks and pulse it in batches. Instead of using sausage casings, you will roll the meat into logs, wrap the logs in aluminum foil, and cook them in a smoker or oven. 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 48 hours
Cooking Time: 6 to 8 hours
Serves: 5 one-pound sticks

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds ground boneless and skinless goose breast fillets (8 cups, firmly packed)
  • 1 pound ground pork or beef with 20 percent fat content
  • 2 tablespoons Morton Tender Quick Home Meat Cure (measured precisely)
  • 1/3 cup fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions

Step 1. Combine the ground meats in a large bowl made of glass, stainless steel, or plastic (avoid using aluminum). Sprinkle the Morton Tender Quick cure over the mixture, add the remaining ingredients, and mix very well to ensure that the cure is evenly distributed. When mixed thoroughly, the meat should be a little sticky.

Step 2. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Every 12 hours, mix the meat thoroughly, then cover it and place it back in the refrigerator.

Step 3. After 48 hours, divide the meat mixture into 5 equal portions and roll into logs, about 2 inches thick. Place each log on a square of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, and wrap snugly. Pierce each log 3 or 4 times with a fork. 

Step 4. Arrange foil logs on a rack above a baking sheet (to catch any drippings) in a preheated 200-degree oven or smoker. Cook for about 6 to 8 hours, until the internal temperature at the center reads 160 degrees.

Step 5. Allow the meat to cool completely before slicing. When wrapped in butcher paper and vacuum-packed, summer sausage can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to a year. 

CURING SAUSAGE The tangy flavor in summer sausage comes from the curing process, which discourages bacteria growth, maintains color, prolongs storage life, and enhances the taste of the cooked sausage. The most readily available curing agent is Morton Tender Quick. If you use another product, be sure to measure it exactly as prescribed in the product instructions. Different curing agents contain different concentrations of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, both of which can be harmful if used in excess. An added word of caution: always store cures in a safe place away from the reach of children.


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