Chancellor Otto von Bismarck gets the credit for saying "Laws are
like sausages. You should never watch them being made." Well I've
watched both, and I'll stuff sausage any day.
Sausage-making is a Hill
Country family tradition although it's not as common as it once
was. Sausage-making is like making soap or butter. It's a link to
the past you might say.
The Germans make dry deer sausage in the fall using preserving techniques
brought to this country by their ancestors. In the old days the relatively
cold weather and short growing season back in Germany (it's about
the same latitude as Newfoundland), meant that old world preserving
methods such as pickling, salting, smoking and curing were crucial
in order to make the food supply last until springtime.
There are fundamental steps in the art of sausage-making although
the techniques and ingredients vary from one family to another. Some
sausage recipes are written in German on old pieces of paper and lovingly
passed down through the generations.
sausage recipe I am familiar with calls for 20 lbs. of meat - 2/3rds
deer meat and 1/3 pork. The pork is necessary because deer meat is
lean and tough. Pork adds flavor.
The first step is to debone and cube the deer meat and pork. Then
mix the cubed meat together and season with ¾ cup of salt, ½ cup of
coarse ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons saltpeter.
Grind the meat through a course plate, and grind again with a finer
plate. The meat is now mixed, seasoned, ground and ready for stuffing.
Next cut the casings (beef intestines that hold the sausage) into
strips about 15 inches long, and soak them in warm salt water. Tie
one end of the casing with a string and slide the other end over the
stuffing nozzle. Feed the meat into the casing letting the casing
slide through your hand as it fills with sausage. (It looks easy but
takes practice.) Pack the casing tight enough that no air gets in
but not so tight that the casing explodes. When the casing is full,
tie off the other end with the string to make a ring.
After all casings are stuffed and tied, hang the rings in the smoke
house and smoke the sausage about 4 hours. The sausage absorbs the
flavor of the smoke. (This recipe uses oak wood.) Then let the sausage
hang in a well-ventilated area until reaching the desired hardness.
Make sure the rings do not touch each other. Keep the area free of
flies and other insects. In a week or so the sausage is ready to eat.
families make jerky at the same time they made sausage. Some make
"clothesline jerky," which is venison cut into strips like bacon,
cured and hung to dry on a string similar to a clothesline
Another jerky recipe calls for dissolving about 4 cups of salt (enough
to float an egg) and 4 teaspoons of pink curing salt in 4 gallons
of water. Then slice the deer meat into chunks and soak the chunks
in the salt water for 4 hours. Drain the water and add pepper to the
meat. Then string it up and smoke it with the sausages.
Johnson was a fan of deer sausage. He handed out sausage rings to
his Washington colleagues for Christmas gifts. When West German Chancellor
Konrad Adenauer and Admiral Chester Nimitz stayed overnight at the
LBJ Ranch in 1961, Lady Bird served "a typical breakfast of eggs,
deer sausage, home-cured bacon and homemade bread."
Deer sausage is chewy, a little salty and slightly sweet. It is a
Hill Country delicacy.
Still the best part about deer sausage is not the taste but the time
spent making it. Sausage-making day is a family gathering and a celebration.
The older generation teaches the family traditions to the youngsters,
often using grinders and stuffers that are heirlooms from the 19th
century. There is plenty of beer, laughter and fun.
Stuffing sausage with the family is a great way to spend the day.
It's a lot more fun than those sausage factories in Austin