Cured Sausage: 206 Advanced Cured Sausage Processing
Attend this Intermediate level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
7 lb of Pork Butt
For Snack Sticks .35 lb Gigawatt Seasoning
For Summer Sausage .8 lb Habenero Mango
For Cured Sausage .28 lb Cheeseburger Cheddarwurst
.28 oz of Sure Cure
9 oz of water (per 7 lb of product)
Encapsulated Citric Acid
Smoked Meat Stabilizer
The casings I am using for the Summer Sausage are fibrous so they need to be soaked for at least 30 minutes in warm water before stuffing. I generally start soaking them right before I start grinding. Neither the 32mm Collagen I am using for the Smoked Sausage or the 19mm I am using for the snack sticks need any preparation, they are ready to use right out of the package.
We’ve got our plates and knives oiled. A quick note here on plates and knives, Walton’s sells two types of plates and knives, one is disposable, you use them until they are dull and then throw them out and the others can be sharpened for future use. The disposable ones will work but the knives and the plates that can be sharpened are going to give you a better-finished product. You can tell the sharpenable knives from the disposable ones as they have an insert into the blade where the disposable ones don’t and they look more like a boat propeller.
Grinding Your Meat
Our meat is extremely cold and even though we are doing 3 different products we can grind them all together as they should all go through a 3/8 plate first and then a 1/8 inch plate. With our meat being so cold you can see how quick both the 1st and 2nd grind are going. The 2nd grind is always going to take longer but when the meat is near frozen it will go much faster. If you notice that either of your grinds is taking an incredibly long time you might need to have your plates or knives sharpened. You can also check your plates for any cracks or imperfections by knocking them lightly together if they ring nice and clear you can proceed if they clunk or don’t ring then they might need replacing.
Since these are smaller batches I am going to have to do protein extraction by hand as the scoops on the paddles of a meat mixer will not be able to mix this small of an amount. While mixing I am going to add my seasoning, cure, and binder along with 10 oz of water. For the water 10 oz to 7 lb of meat would equal 1 qt per 25 lb batch of meat. We are going to mix until we have nice protein extraction in all of our meat. For the Snack Sticks, I am using Encapsulated Citric Acid so I am going to add that during the last 60 seconds, along with the cheese, to prevent breaking the encapsulation or smearing the cheese.
Stuffing Summer Sausage
Now, here is where we start diverting from one product to another. I am going to start with the Summer Sausage first. So I have the largest stuffing tube that these casings will fit over. With Fibrous casings, we really aren’t worried about blowouts so we are going to stuff it until the casing is full and smooth. Then when we are done with that we have to clip the end closed. Remember, all the weight of the casing is going to be pushing on this clip so it has got to be tight. You can use either Hog Ring Pliers, Auto Load Hog Ring Pliers or a Bag & Casing Clipper like this. If you are doing a lot I would recommend the Bag & Casing Clipper as it will give you the tightest seal and is easiest to do if you only do medium-sized batches and only occasionally then this might not be worth it and I would recommend the autoload hog ring pliers. The normal pliers are okay for the beginner but if you are putting all this effort into a product then the small investment of the Auto Load Pliers is worth it.
Stuffing Smoked Sausage
Next, I am going to do the Smoked Sausage, again, I want to use the biggest tube that the casings will fit over and we do want to be careful not to overstuff these as they can blow out. So a slightly understuffed casing is much better than an overstuffed casing as we can always twist it a time or two more to firm them up. For these, we are going to do an advanced linking and hang them from this. Make sure that you have some empty casing at the end of the sausage and then make a link and fold it over the rope so your 2nd link will be the same size. Then, pinch of that link and twist some of the empty casing around where the two sausage meat. Then spin the two links a few extra times at this point it should look sort of like ring bologna. Now hold it from the link you just made and bring the rope up to the top and pinch it down and bring the rope up through the middle of what now should be three brats all hanging. Now just keep repeating this process until you are done. You now have perfectly even brats that should cook at the same rate.
Stuffing Snack Sticks
For the Snack Sticks we are using 19mm casings and we have chosen the 12 mm stuffing tube. They should flow fairly smoothly off of this tube as you stuff. As this is going to be the hardest one to stuff as it is the smallest stuffing tube you probably want to make sure you have your stuffer clamped down to the table to prevent the stuffer from rocking as your turn the handle. Casings should be full and smooth but not overstuffed as we want to avoid blowouts. I like to lay these out and then cut them to the longest lengths possible for how big my smoker is, this way we will have the least amount of curved sections possible.
Snack Sticks and Summer Sausage in PK-100:
First, for the snack sticks, we are going to leave them in our PK-100 the entire time and rely on the water pan with the extra large sponges to provide us with the relative humidity. For the Summer Sausage, we are going to pull them at 130 - 140 degrees and finish them up in water so that we are not spending 10 hours smoking these. basically, we will start them all at 125° with no smoke and dampers wide open for an hour to act as our drying stage, this will allow the smoke to adhere later on. Then we will close the dampers down mostly and add smoke and our water pan with the sponges to the Pk-100 and increase the temperature to 140° for 1 hour. Then we will move it up to 155 for 2 hours and then 175 until internal temperature is 160°.
For the Summer Sausage, we are pulling it at 130-140 degrees and we will vacuum seal them and then finish them up in water that is heated to 175°. You don’t absolutely need to put it in a vacuum bag but I still recommend it unless you are using De-ionized water and are 100% sure your processing area is sterile. It should take us about an hour to an hour and a half to reach the desired temperature.
We will go over this in more detail in future episodes but 160 is the point of instant lethality, meaning as soon as you hit it everything we are worried about is killed off. The USDA, however, realizes that lower temperatures can still achieve the same result, they just need to be held there for longer times.
Smoked Sausage in Pro Smoker 500T:
Once we have reached the desired temp we want to put these into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and to help “set” the casing. If you have excessive wrinkling on your snack sticks or your Fibrous casings are pulling away from the meat when peeling then your ice bath is most likely the reason why. Once we have left them in the ice bath for 20 minutes we will take them out and leave them uncovered at room temperature for an hour before moving to a cooler overnight before packaging.
If you have a smokehouse that has a shower cycle you can use this instead of an ice bath. If you are going to use this then make sure the fan is blowing between shower cycles, this will drop the temperature much better than a shower alone.
Leave the meat out at room temperature for at least 1 hour to allow for blooming.
After you have held your product overnight in a cooler you can vacuum package them. You want to allow it to sit, uncovered, in the cooler to stabilize the heat and to make sure all surface moisture has evaporated. If you skip this step you will end up with moisture in your package.