Tip Tuesday: 3 Ways to Create the Best "Bind" in Sausage Making


You've had them before - dry, crumbly sausages. Sausages that fall apart. Mealy sausages. Sausages that are just plain weird and you can't put your finger on why you can't eat even one. more. bite. of one.

All can be accounted for by the lack of a proper bind. 

"Binding" sausage so that the meat holds together is essential. And yet it's often a mystery to home sausage makers. We find that even people we know who have been making their own sausage for years are bewildered by the bind. These are the three things we tell people when they ask us how to improve the funky texture of their homemade sausage:


1. Start with the Third/Third/Third Grind
(courtesy Brad Lockwood)
Grind your pork, beef, antelope - what have you - so that you end up with 1/3rd coarsely ground meat, 1/3rd medium grind, and 1/3rd fine grind. To achieve this, grind all of it through a coarse plate (10-12mm). Divide that in half. Set one half aside. Grind the other half through a medium plate (6-8mm). Take that medium grind, divide it in half. Set half of the medium grind aside. Grind the other half through a fine plate (3mm-5mm). Mix them all together. You'll find that the meat binds more tightly together.


2. Use a Meat Mixer 
(courtesy Hank Shaw)
Sure, a meat mixer is a must if you're combining large batches of meat and seasonings. It's also handy because you need to keep the meat as cold as possible in sausage making, and hand mixing means warm hands bringing up the temp. But, it's also a must-have for the bind. The paddles of the mixer break the proteins, creating a natural protein "glue." 


3. Add Non-Fat Milk Powder
(Brad, again)
The two tips above should take care of most binds, however: sometimes you need to really ensure that bind happens, and happens tightly. No one likes crumbly summer sausage -  that's just wrong. Brad's rule of thumb is 2lbs/100lb batch. Scale accordingly. This means a 5lb batch would get about 1/3 cup of milk powder. The proteins in that milk powder are especially sticky, and as you cook the sausage, the meat will get more closely and closely glued together - you'll see. Soy (soy protein, soy flour, soy concentrate) is a common additive used to produce the same effect. 

Venison Gyros with a Weston Meat Grinder


- Ingredients -

Venison Gyro Meat
2 lbs venison, cubed
one quarter large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano

For after the grind
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup greek yogurt
1 cucumber
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Sweet Potato Fries
3 sweet potatoes
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups peanut oil

pitas
tomatoes
white onions
feta cheese


- Tools -
Weston Meat Grinder
loaf pan
Weston V-Slice Mandoline Slicer
Weston French Fry Cutter


Prepare Gyro Meat

1. Keep all metal parts of the Meat Grinder in the freezer until you're ready to grind.

2. Grind the venison through the coarse plate of the Meat Grinder into a bowl over ice.


3. Mix the ground venison with the rest of the gyro ingredients. Grind through the medium plate.


4. Grind the mixture through the fine plate.


5. Drain the ice water from the ice below the bowl into the ground meat. Sprinkle in the remaining parsley, pepper, oregano, and rosemary. Mix well.

6. Spread the meat in a greased loaf pan, pressing down tightly, and spread to the edges.


7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165.


8. Let cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Tzatziki Sauce

1. Grate cucumber with the Mandoline Slicer.


2. Mix together all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate.



Sweet Potato Fries

1. Wrap the sweet potatoes in damp towels and microwave them for 3 minutes.

2. Use the French Fry Cutter to cut the sweet potato fries.


3. Heat the peanut oil to 375 degrees.

4. Fry the sweet potatoes for 5-10 minutes, until they float.

5. Strain into a bowl covered with a paper towel.

Prepare Garnish

Use the Mandoline to thinly slice the white onion and slice the tomatoes.



Serve Gyros

1. Slice the gyro meat from the loaf with a serrated knife.

2. Fry in olive oil in a skillet for a minute on each side (until browned).

3. Serve the gyro meat on pita with a handful of sweet potato fries, heavy dollops of tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onions.




Tequila Pickled Peppers in a Weston Vacuum Canister


As much as I love pickled jalapeños, I couldn't help but try to spice up this year's yield. A little tequila and a couple dashes of cumin, paprika, and chili powder take pickled peppers to the next level!

Makes 1.5 quarts

- Ingredients -

6 large jalapeños
3 small sweet peppers, in a variety of colors
¼ red onion
4 radishes
½ quart white vinegar
½ quart water
1 oz gold tequila
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder

- Tools -
Weston Mandoline Slicer
Weston Vacuum Sealer + 1.5 qt Canister


1. Use your Mandoline to slice the peppers, onion, and radishes evenly and thinly (about 1/8th of an inch thick).



2. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, garlic, and seasonings to a boil, then simmer for five minutes.

3. Place the pepper, onion, and radish slices into your Vacuum Sealer Canister, then pour the hot liquid over them. Allow to cool.

4. Once cooled, pour in the tequila.

5. Attach the Canister to the Vacuum Sealer and seal the Canister.


6. Allow the peppers to pickle for a week, then enjoy.



You can transfer your pickled peppers into a mason jar (properly sanitized, use a Canning Kit) and seal it using a pressure canner or water bath for longer storage.



Dehydrated Watermelon (AKA Melon Jerky)

This is how you make all natural, no sugar added, watermelon candy in a dehydrator. Ridiculously simple and also your new favorite thing... FYI. Also a great way to use up any extra melon you have in the fridge that will go bad soon (that's what we did). 


- Ingredients -

A mixture of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew

- Tools -
Weston Dehydrator



1. Slice the melon into ¼ inch thick pieces (the length and width don't really matter - these pieces are about 3 inches by 1 inch.

2. Arrange the melon on the Dehydrator trays, keeping about ½ inch between the pieces. Dehydrate at 145° for 8 hours.


Be sure to check the fruit every so often - there are many variables when dehydrating, so they may be done sooner. The fruit is ready when it is dry and flexible - don't let it get brittle. The cantaloupe and honeydew may be dry an hour or so earlier than the watermelon, so be sure to check those separately.








Tip Tuesday: Where to Find Good Wild Game Recipes

There are plenty of resources out there for figuring out what to do with your latest hunt — some completely awesome, some a little, well... lame.

We put together a top 12 list of sites that we know we can always rely on to put out some of the most inventive, user-friendly, and above all else, tasty recipes. 

We also included a little sampling of a few of our favorite recipes from each site to get you started...


1. Hunter Angler Gardener Cook (Hank Shaw)








2. Food for Hunters







3. MeatEater TV (Steven Rinella)









4. Cookin' In Camo (Tyler Viars) on Outdoor Hub







5. Deer & Deer Hunting








6. Game & Garden (Stacy Harris)







7. Georgia Pellegrini







8. The Sporting Chef (Scott Leysath)







9. The Wild Chef  (David Draper) on Field & Stream







10. Field to Fork on Outdoor Channel (Julie Golob)








11. Killer Chefs










12. This very blog - Weston
(did you expect us not to include a shameless self plug)



Smoked Venison Chorizo Stuffed Peppers with the Weston Smoker


Skip the green bell peppers for banana peppers. Change out that boring ground beef or pork sausage for some venison chorizo. Who needs tomato sauce when you have chiltomate sauce?! And forget about the oven - use your smoker. Take our advice, and you'll end up with some of the best stuffed peppers you've ever had in your life!

Makes 6 peppers

- Ingredients -

6 banana peppers

Chorizo
1 1/3 lb venison, cubed
2/3 lb bacon, cubed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon tequila
2 chipotle peppers
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon hot chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 cups Chiltomate sauce

small block Chihuahua cheese

- Tools -
Weston Meat Grinder
Weston Smoker + wood chips
Grater or Weston V-Slice Mandoline


Feed cubed venison and bacon through the coarse plate of your Meat Grinder. Mix the meat with the remaining ingredients and run the mixture through the medium grinder plate. Cover and refrigerate.



Preheat your smoker to 200°F and soak your wood chips. 

Cut your peppers to stuff them. Make a gentle, horizontal cut just below the stem, then make a slice  down the pepper, forming a T. Be careful not to cut all the way through the pepper.

Stuff the peppers with the chorizo, then smother in Chiltomate Sauce. 



Place the peppers into your Smoker and smoke for 2-3 hours, or until the peppers are soft and the meat is cooked through.



Remove the peppers from the smoker, smother in more Chiltomate sauce, then use your Mandoline w/ the grater attachment to shred your cheese over top of the peppers.


Return to the smoker for 10-15 minutes — until the cheese is melted. 


Serve immediately, hot.




Pickled Apples in a Weston Vacuum Canister


Puree these preserved apples for a quick and flavorful apple sauce, use them in an apple pie, or simply eat them right from the jar, as a snack. You might also want to serve them atop a glazed ham or your favorite burger. They're perfectly salty, savory, and sweet, lending themselves to meats and desserts equally well.

Makes 2 quarts

- Ingredients -
4 apples
1 ½ cups water
½ cup apple cider vinegar, or better, Chef Sawyer's Craft Beer Vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
½ red onion
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon whole cloves


- Tools -
Weston Apple Peeler
Weston Mandoline Slicer
Weston Vacuum Sealer + Canister


1. Core and slice all of your apples with an Apple Peeler (pull the arm back and lock it so that the peeler doesn't touch the apple).




2. Use a Mandoline to very thinly slice your onion.


3.  Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Place the apples and onions into a 2 qt Vacuum Sealer Canister, then pour the liquid over top of them. Let cool.

5. Attach the canister to a Vacuum Sealer and seal.


6. Store in a cool dry place for at last two weeks. After two weeks, you can enjoy right from the canister, or transfer into mason jars and properly seal for long term storage.




Tip Tuesday: Wild Game Processing Diagram

Once you've had a successful hunt, what do you do with all that meat?  

click to enlarge


  • You can slice up roasts, ribs, and steaks and throw them on the grill or in the smoker. You can also cube up some of the "lesser" parts for stews.
  • Sausage can be made from just about anywhere (that's what sausage is for), but any of the "roast" regions of the animal will work best.  We picked up some awesome tips from — we know, we know, big surprise here: Hank Shaw, on his last book tour, which we chronicled in our "Hank Shaw: What We Learned From Him..." blog post.

For full recipes and ideas, check out our Wild Game posts.