Dueling Sausage–A Photo Odyssey

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Not surprisingly, German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck–the only man who is known for turning down a chance at a sausage duel to the death–had this to say, “Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.”   To that I say fooey.  Here’s a ringside seat for the duel between 2 rookie sausagemen and 100 pounds of free range meat.

 

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This meat grinder, a 1 3/4 hp Cabela’s Commercial Grade Grinder is the real deal. Silver skin is no match. My old grinder would produce a meat “paste” and would get really hot.

 

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Home School classroom turned sausage production room.  The next day, I got to learn how to use a steam cleaner.

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Early in the bout, the tag team pair were confident bordering on cocky, “We have plenty of time to build the fire, we should be smoking in about 2 hours. “

 

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“Cutting the meat up in cubes, measuring the spices and grinding the meat is the long part. Stuffing, tying and smoking will go quickly,” said me before a I was properly educated.

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We ground the meat once, through a course die half frozen and into a bowl floating in ice. The grinder barely got warm.

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This part was tough. There is a thing known as the “primary bind” where you mix a liquid with your ground meat. The liquid needs to be ice cold. This is 100 pounds of ground meat, half frozen and it was brutal on our hands.

 

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My fingers have never been colder. My confidence was beginning to falter.

 

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The tray guard did not last long.  I don’t suggest you remove it, but we lost a screw in the process and it was deemed useless.  (Special Prize in one sausage!)

 

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The easy way to explain how you put this a casing onto the stuffer attachment is not appropriate for younger audience, so lets just say its kind of like rolling a water balloon onto a garden hose.

 

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The most difficult aspect of the whole project was tying the sausages. We mistakenly thought it was necessary, now I’ve learned it’s not. Never again will I tie.

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A third party entered into the fray, ready to help despite his limited age and experience.

 

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The youngster was game, but demanded gloves.

 

 

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“Dad, this kind of looks like poop.”

 

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So we started at 12:30. It’s now 11 pm. I’m guessing we aren’t going to smoke’m tonight. Let’s make some giant spiral sausages.

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There’s no shame to admitting to a draw.

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A stand alone devoted stuffer would have sped things up , but the grinder’s sausage attachment was pretty fast after we got the hang of it.

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I wanted to quit.

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Ran out of twine, Oliver’s kite string was commandeered. That’s what happens when you bail on us for Sponge Bob.

 

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At this point, form was thrown out the window. I just wanted to be done.  Fortunately the last batch was in the hopper. We could see the end.

 

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I failed to notice the “hang and dry for two hours” portion of the recipe. We were left scrambling for rods to hang them from.

 

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In the 7th hour, we didn’t care how the sausage looked. Hungry, tired, with shaking fingers we battled on…

 

 

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Blocks of ice lined the bottom of the cooler and we finished. 100 pounds of sausage stuffed and tied. Tomorrow we’d smoke.

 

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The next day we are ready to smoke. It’s supposed to rain, but we braved the elements.

 

 

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Our initial setup which would be fine tuned to meet our needs.

 

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Smoke is already rolling up even before our roof goes on.

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Small fire, we would later add more wood to speed the process

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View from above as the roof went on.

 

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Our original window was pool towel. Then we found one more piece of tin.

 

 

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Scene from behind the towel. Magical.

 

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We soon switched to this marvel of engineering which allowed us to see the temperature inside our smoker without opening the window.

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Monitoring the internal temperature of the sausage, we slid the wire thermometer into a thick link inside.

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Almost done

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The sheet metal above the fire (oak and pecan) prevents direct heat cooking.

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Threw on some ribs because I hate to waste smoke

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Pulling off the goods

 

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About to take an ice bath to stop further cooking.

 

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Artsy.

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Sausage on Deck

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Chillin

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Function over form.

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Rain actually helped the process–kept the smoker cool.

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Gazing longingly into your own smokehouse while it’s smoke embraces the sausages you made is one of life’s finer treasures.

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It started raining and we had to make adjustments to our master of engineering.

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The view through our window

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A gastronomic peep show

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We had to test some of the product.

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Victory.

Shooting for Sausage

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Our goal is simple: 100 pounds of venison and 100 pounds of wild pork to become 200 pounds of sausage. We are now two steps closer to fulfilling our sausage ingredient requirements and this is how it happened.

The hunt began around 10 am. Starting with a series of short stalks through creek bottom land proved uneventful. We did find a bald eagle nest,prehistoric and amazing in its size and bulk. Leaves were dry and the woods seemed devoid of life.

A strong north wind was blowing in our face, and we kept the sun to our backs. Entering a new pasture, we spotted a fine buck about 150 yards away. We were there to shoot doe and pigs, but Clayton might take the right buck if he offered himself up. At my folks place where I have hunted the last two years, you don’t see many bucks with an antler spread greater than 13 inches, which is what is considered legal in our county. So when I do, they look large. At my buddy’s ranch, the deer population is much larger and so he’s much more difficult to impress than I am. This was a legal buck, but it wasn’t clear if he was in the 4-5 year range they like to shoot. A big 6 or possibly 8 point. The buck stepped behind a fallen tree and we closed the distance quickly. He must have reentered the woods because we never saw him again. Soon after, Clayton said,

“There’s a doe.”

I quickly lifted my rifle, but I rushed my shot. Big boom, but no evidence suggesting any sort of hit. We walked over, looked for blood but after 10 minutes it was clear I missed. This missing phenomena has got to go.

We made our way back to the truck and headed to a stretch of creek Clayton thought we could push up some pigs. On our way, a small pond to my right proved to be covered with wood ducks and pintails. I’ve shot quite a few woodies, but never have feathered a pintail.

A decent hunting partner will share your general philosophy towards the sport. Some are strictly after a certain trophy or they stay committed to the species at hand. Me, I’m pretty quick to change gears if the situation allows and I like the meat. Seeing all those ducks, we decided to return to the truck for the shotgun. I did, and we planned the stalk. I crept below the pond, but being unfamiliar with this tank, I came up over the dam in poor position and only one duck gave me a clear shot. I managed a single wood duck, which inexplicably disappeared from the back of my truck during our evening hunt. Hawk?

For the evening stand, we split up. I was left in an area with an overpopulation of doe and Clayton went to an area where pig activity was abundant. I take out my range finder, binoculars and pour myself a cup of joe from my thermos. The wind was howling in my face, and the sun was setting at my back. About a mile over my left shoulder I could hear semis shifting gears as they sped down the farm to market road. I’d barely had a sip when this funky looking buck came strolling by.

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After ten minutes or so, he caught wind of me and left in a hurry. About an hour later, another buck appeared to my right. He was a nice buck, an 8 or ten point, and beautiful with his neck dark brown and swollen. He casually walked out of sight.

Soon after, at the far end of the meadow, two deer appeared. Roughly the same size, I looked at them with my binoculars to ensure they were doe. No antlers, I then produced my range finder and pegged them at 150 yards.

I steadied my gun, exhaled, and shot. I lost sight of the doe through my camera and they both ran and stopped about 100 yards away. I had missed.

I quickly cycled my bolt action, placed the cross-hairs and shot again. Again, no apparent hit. She remained standing, and I shot again. This time I clearly hit my target, though she didn’t fall, and the other doe raced across the field and into the forested creek bottom. The doe was standing, swaying and I could see red at the crease of her shoulder. I reloaded and watched her through the scope, waiting to see if she’d turn broad side and if I would need to shoot again. She eventually laid down.

My phone vibrated, Clayton texted me:

“Three shots. First sounded like a hit….something better be dead”

I called him and lamented my poor shooting, but confirmed we had a doe. I told him to keep hunting, I was going to wait and see if any pigs would come out.

After ten minutes, up stands the doe and begins to hobble away. I quickly shot again and missed and shot again. This time she fell hard. I’ve got to say that I’m a bit frustrated now, questioning my gun’s zero, wondering if I jerked rather than squeezed the trigger. I wait another ten minutes, then decide she’s down for good and start working my way to her walking along the edge of the forest.

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As I’m walking to the downed deer, I discover a second blood trail leading into the creek bottom. Apparently, I’d shot two deer. I followed the trail a short ways into a wild rose hedge, and discovered a yearling buck. A single button barely broke the skin and he was the same size as the doe. Of course, I had not intended to shoot a button buck or to shoot two deer.

Clayton said the first shot sounded good, so what must have happened is when I shot the next two times, I followed up on the wrong deer. I’m really not sure what happened.  I may have hit with my first shot, and then shot the wrong one the next, or the next.  I still don’t know.

Conflicting feelings created turmoil as I prepared to field dress the doe and thought about my friends reaction to me shooting two deer. These fears proved to be unfounded, and he dismissed my apologies. It’s a risk you take in harvesting does, and well, I just proved my own fallibility by shooting two on accident.

We weighed each deer, took the lower jaw for aging purposes. Clayton has a fine set up for butchering and we quartered them and were on our way shortly thereafter. I like cleaning deer with different people because I seem to learn a new trick each time. Clayton is an advocate of hanging the deer overnight, to make the final butcher the next day less bloody and safer because of the dryer nature of the meat. He’s right. It was much neater and my hands weren’t cold, slippery and wet. tailgateGetting after itskinning

However, I hadn’t prepared to hang the deer, so I had to get a little creative with my hanging technique.

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We figure 2-3 more pigs and we will be ready for some charcuterie.