Right now it’s snowing outside and they are calling for some deep snow in the mountains. This post however won’t be about snow.
To this point we’ve mostly been posting about skiing which makes sense I guess. What you will find with the Montana Backcountry blog topics on this site is that they tend to be season specific rather than topic specific. You however don’t have to wait until September to get some hunting related topics because winter is for meat processing!
Now had I watched Steve Rinella’s video here first I would not have tried to make 150 plus pounds of sausage and burger at one time. Next time maybe we will try a smaller batch, but we made it work. In total we did 60lbs of breakfast sausage and some other batches of straight burger. I have my own grinder so my hunting buddies and I have been doing much of our own meat processing. Mostly bulk batches of sausage, burger and jerky, but there is talk of sausage in casings next. Instead of grabbing pre-packaged spices at the sporting goods store I like to take advantage of the bulk spice selection we have at the local Good Food Store. After finding a recipe we like we purchase spices and pork butt locally. Two major changes we are making to this breakfast sausage recipe are half the salt and two-thirds game meat to one-third pork shoulder. Most recipes I’ve found are half game meat, half pork. We find the end product to be plenty sticky enough and probably a bit better for you.
Once both meats are cubed we then mix them together layer by layer with the spices. This is quite messy, but for now we don’t have a sausage mixer and this will have to do. In reading about sausage making, keeping everything cold is key. All of the meat is just barely unfrozen as we do the mixing. Following spice mixing we head to the grinder for 2 full grinds of the meat. (Pre-mix all your spice ingredients, yes this may seem obvious, but we did not do this the first time because we are new to this!) This ensures much better mixing of spices, game meat and pork.
At this point we now have a cooler full of 60lbs of ground breakfast sausage. I think on this particular day we processed meat for a good 6 plus hours. We weigh out a pound and it in cling wrap followed by freezer paper. This is just the way I’ve always done it and I’ve never had problems. With some other meat processing I’ve gone with vacuum sealing. Just have to use caution to make sure you don’t puncture the package when “tossing” them in the freezer. Below is the final product of mixed, ground, packaged and labeled meat. We of course had to taste some of the sausage and we agreed it was another fantastic batch.