Published December 16, 2012, 05:15 AM

Venison Sausage Tips

Here are a few sausage making tips, do’s and don’ts from Jason Laumb of Grand Forks

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Here are a few sausage making tips, do’s and don’ts from Jason Laumb of Grand Forks:

• Don’t skip or skimp on the curing salt when mixing venison sausage that is going to be smoked. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need a cure,” Laumb said. “You don’t want botulism.”

• Trim as much of the fat and silver, sinewy material away from the venison as possible. Use pork or beef to add fat for flavor instead. The standard mixture is 80 percent meat and 20 percent fat.

• Laumb finds most of his venison sausage recipes online, often adapting the ingredients to suit his taste, which leans toward the spicy.

• Other wild game, such as cranes, ducks or geese, also can be used to supplement the venison.

• Laumb adds and mixes the spices after grinding rather than running it through the grinder with the meat, which can dull the blades. “You’re going to find a lot of people with different opinions on this than I do,” he said. “Everyone has their own way of doing it. I’m not saying the way I’m doing it is right, it’s just the method I’ve developed.”

• When smoking sausage, make sure the links first are dry. That can be done at a low temperature in the smoker or, even better, by hanging the links on a broomstick in front of a fan for about an hour. “It sets the smoke a lot better” when the sausage is dry, he said.

• Laumb starts the smoker at a low temperature, 135 to 140 degrees, gradually raising the heat to no more than 165 degrees. He inserts a meat thermometer in one of the sausages and smokes until the internal temperature of the sausage reaches 150 to 155 degrees. That usually takes four to five hours.

• If adding cheese to a recipe, use a high-temperature cheese that can withstand the heat of the smoker without melting; the cheese, which doesn’t melt until about 180 degrees, is available in most meat shops.

• Go light on the wood chips in the smoker. “If you add too much, it gets really bitter, so you want to control it,” Laumb said.

— Brad Dokken