Homemade Wild Game Chorizo Sausage
By Chef and Author, Eileen Clarke
A lot of people swear that a four-to-one ratio of lean-to-fat is perfect for wild game sausage, but that produces a dry sausage, not the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture of sausage made with any other meat in the world. Sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine. Game meat is just as much real meat as domestic meat, and there’s no reason to short-change it when turning it into sausage. A four-to-one ratio is 20% fat: no commercial sausage is that lean. Something about a ratio of one-to-one lean to fat or even two-to-one is much more taste-bud friendly. Want to test my hypothesis? Have I got a recipe for you!
Makes 1 ½ pounds
12 ounces ground pork fat/jowls
12 ounces ground venison
¾ cup fresh, minced cilantro
¾ jalapeño pepper, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 ¼ teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ¾ to 2 teaspoons non-iodized salt
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup chicken broth (only if you’re casing the sausage)
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the broth). Mix thoroughly. (Hint: Before adjusting the flavors, chill the mixture 24 hours to let the flavors fully develop. Then microwave a half-inch ball of sausage in a cup about 15 seconds on high, or fry a small patty until all the pink is gone.) Cook these up as patties or case them.
To Case Sausages: Freeze the mix in a zip style bag for 2 hours, or until crystals form inside the bag. Break up the sausage in a mixing bowl, add the broth and mix using a paddle mixer until the sausage gloms together like a hornet’s nest. You should be able to grasp the whole batch in one hand with none falling off. (The Classic KitchenAid mixer on low will do this in 6 minutes.)
Stuff the casings, twist and air-dry in the refrigerator before cooking or freezing. Cook cased sausage at 350°F for 30 minutes in a foil-lined baking pan or on a medium grill about 10 minutes, turning once, to about 165°F.
Or skip the casing processes and simply fry chunks of sausage in the skillet, and arrange in toasted corn tortillas with all the usual taco fixings or combined with scrambled eggs for breakfast.
A Note From the Chef: So what if you don’t have any wild meat in the freezer? You can still make Chorizo–the ratio is just a bit different. About a week after a fella bought my book Sausage Season, he called and asked “But what about beef? I didn’t get anything this year.” So I bought the leanest (15%) beef burger and tried several variations adjusting the fat ratio. A six-to-two ratio—at 36% total fat (15% beef burger plus added fat to 36%), was delicious. Remember, though, this is a personal thing. To me, a good sausage renders about 1 teaspoon of fat per 3-4 ounce patty in a fry pan. (Using no oil.)
About the Chef: To find out more about making really great sausage and try a pile of new sausage recipes, check out Eileen’s book, Sausage Season. You can order a copy, plus her latest cookbook: Tenderize the Wild: Marinades, brines and rubs available on her website www.rifleandrecipes.com (Or call 406-521-0273).