Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sausage Fest

Bull Elk or Wapiti (Cervus canadensis)

Unlike many recipes for game sausage I don't add pork or beef fat. I prefer elk sausage lean and hormone free.

Butchering at the McReynolds

When butchering elk and other game I have just two categories: premium steaks and burger meat. This year’s elk yielded seventy pounds of yummy steaks (including tenderloins and backstraps) and seventy-five pounds of burger. Thirty pounds of the burger meat was made into cured Summer Sausage and Mexican Chorizo.

Elk Sirloin

After nearly burning out our Kitchen Aid, my wife and I partnered with the McReynolds family to purchase a meat grinder. Overtime, this has saved us significant cash and hassle. 

 Grinding Elk Meat

The curing of meat and poultry products is based partly on the art as practiced over thousands of years and partly on sound scientific principles developed during the last 80 years.” - Rytek Kutas, Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing

Summer Elk Sausage

 Summer Elk Sausage

A tasty and healthy source of protein during backcountry adventures, cured Summer Elk Sausage doesn't need to be cooked (again) and can go short periods of time without refrigeration. For long term storage, however, summer sausage is best kept frozen.

Ingredients for Summer Elk Sausage

  • 20 lbs. cubed elk meat
  • 1 ¼ cups Morton Tender Quick
  • 1 ½ cups garlic cloves
  • 1 cup black pepper corns
  • ½ cup mustard seeds
  • ½ cup red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup oregano
  • ½ cup basil

Rolling the sausage into logs.

  1. Coarsely grind cubed elk meat.
  2. Pre-mix dry seasonings and Morton Tender Quick.
  3. Add mix, garlic and onion to elk meat and mix well.
  4. Re-grind, stir and mix.
  5. Refrigerate and let cure for 2 days, occasionally stirring.
  6. Pre-heat oven at 300 degrees.
  7. Role sausage into 2-inch logs.
  8. Rap logs in aluminum foil.
  9. Bake for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160˚.
  10. Remove aluminum foil and let sausage cool.
  11. Vacuum pack and store in freezer.

Mexican Elk Chorizo

Breakfast Burrito with Mexican Elk Chorizo

In the past I've followed simple recipes for Venison Breakfast Sausage. This season, however, I decided to spice things up and opted for zesty Mexican Elk Chorizo. Ideal for burritos, tacos, or with eggs for breakfast, Mexican Chorizo is un-cured, needs to be cooked, and requires refrigeration.

Ingredients for Mexican Elk Chorizo

  • 10 lbs. cubed elk meat
  • 30 guajillo chile peppers
  • chile de arbol peppers
  •  2 large onions, chopped
  • 30 garlic cloves
  • 2 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 tsp. cumin
  • 5 tsp. paprika
  • 5 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 ½ tsp. cayenne
  • 7 tbs. sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

Sausage Making

  1. Rehydrate peppers and puree with food processor.
  2. Pre-mix dry seasonings.
  3. Coarsely grind cubed elk meat.
  4. Add pre-mix to elk meat and mix well.
  5. Add garlic, pepper puree, onion and apple cider vinegar and mix well.
  6. Re-grind, stir and mix.
  7. Vacuum pack and store in freezer.

Vacuum Sealer

Together, with the McReynolds family, we also share a vacuum sealer that locks in flavor and nutrients and protects against freezer-burn.

The above Elk Chorizo recipe was inspired by “Wild Chef” David Draper.

 Another use for an HMG Porter Pack

For us hunting wasn’t a sport. It was a way to be intimate with nature, that intimacy providing us with wild unprocessed food free from pesticides and hormones and with the bonus of having been produced without the addition of great quantities of fossil fuel. In addition, hunting provided us with an ever scarcer relationship in a world of cities, factory farms, and agribusiness, direct responsibility for taking the lives that sustained us. Lives that even vegans indirectly take as the growing and harvesting of organic produce kills deer, birds, snakes, rodents, and insects. We lived close to the animals we ate. We knew their habits and that knowledge deepened our thanks to them and the land that made them.”  - Ted Kerasote


  1. Nice work, got to love fall harvests.
    How did the HMG handle the load? I am assuming a hind 1/4er and bits and pieces per load? I keep thinking I'd like to lighten up from the venerable old Astralplane for Sheep hunting, but it just handles the weight so well.

    1. The HMG Porter is light and therefore great while on the hunt. And if successful, the Porter is large enough to comfortably handle an elk quarter. On subsequent loads, however, I also use an old Dana Astralplane that I store in my vehicle. I find the Astraplane to big and heavy while hunting, but still the most comfortable when carrying 70+ pounds of elk meat.

  2. It's a niche that needs to be filled; a light weight backcountry hunting pack. The HMG and ULA pack materials are burly enough, but the suspension just turns to mush once you really load them up. Really, while the Mystery Ranch offerings are certainly burly, one doesn't need the overkill weight wise that their designs offer.

  3. http://store.kuiu.com/ultra-1800-p/60012.htm