Deer summer sausage is one of the most unique summer sausages you could try. Its rich, earthy taste makes it stand out from other meat delicacies of this kind. However, you might be asking yourself the question of whether deer sausage is cooked or not.
In this article, I’m going to discuss everything related to cooking deer summer sausage so you can enjoy it to the fullest.
Table of Contents
Does Venison Summer Sausage Need to Be Cooked?
Chances are, you’ll find the answer on the label or package. In fact, summer sausages are already seasoned, cured, dried, cooked, and ready to eat.
What makes this sausage type unique is its long shelf-life due to a combination of preservation techniques. That’s why the end-user doesn’t have to do any cooking of their own.
However, if you feel like it, you can spice things up and give your venison sausages a quick smoke or fry in a pan.
The story is entirely different if you buy raw meat intending to turn it into deer summer sausage.
How to Cook Deer Summer Sausage
Maybe you’re a hunter and have more deer meat than you know what to do with, or you bought some in the local store. What better way to preserve dear meat than to make homemade deer summer sausage?
In a nutshell, you should cook venison summer sausage until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. The process will take anywhere from an hour and a half up to three hours.
First, these are the things you’ll need to cook these delightful sausages:
- Curing salt
- Meat grinder
- Woodchips (I recommend hickory)
- Meat thermometer
Here are some essential tips worth knowing to make the sausage more delicious.
- Since deer meat is very lean, you might want to add some pork to juice it up. You want to go with pork shoulder, hind, or trimmings, as these are the cuts with the biggest portion of fat
- Choose the pork ratio according to your taste. However, if you want to stick to the deer flavor, don’t add more than 30% pork. Otherwise, the pork tends to overwhelm the deer, and you’ll end up with what tastes like pork sausage
- Keep both the deer and pork meat cold. You should put both of them in the fridge before grinding. If not cold, the meat won’t shape nicely
- Combine all ingredients in water, including the cure. This will let the cure dissolve and distribute everywhere nicely
- Soak your casings for 20 minutes, rinse them, and stuff sausages after that
Ingredient-wise, you’ll need some meat cure (five tablespoons), a pinch of your favorite spices (you can go with mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic, or thyme), 1/8 cup of sugar, and 1/3 cup of sea salt. Additionally, you’ll need a cup of water. As I already mentioned, choose the meat ratio according to your preference. I recommend five pounds of pork trimmings and at least seven pounds of venison.
Once you’ve got all the ingredients ready, here are detailed instructions on how to cook a delicious homemade deer summer sausage:
- Soak the casings for twenty minutes to half an hour.
- Grind the meat separately. Then combine it and grind again, but this time together.
- Mix all the ingredients, including the cure, in water.
- Combine the ingredients with the meat by hand, or use a mixer to grind them together.
- Take the casings out of the water, rinse them, and stuff the sausages inside.
- Leave the casings in the fridge for one to two days to allow the meat to infuse all the flavors.
- The next day, smoke the sausages on a smoker starting from 140°F for at least three hours. The internal temperature of fully cooked sausages should be 160°F. Alternatively, you can bake the sausages in the oven at 185°F, although the flavor won’t be the same.
- Let the sausages cool down at room temperature, then store them in the fridge or freezer.
If you’re going to store the sausages in the freezer for some time, it’s best to vacuum-seal them. This will prevent the air from infiltrating, thus stopping the meat from getting freezer burn.
How Long to Smoke Venison Summer Sausage
If we’re talking store-bought, ready-to-eat venison summer sausage, you can simply toss it on the smoker to warm it up for a few minutes along with any other meat you’re smoking.
When it comes to homemade venison summer sausages, you should smoke them on a smoker for at least three hours. It’s best to smoke at 140°F the first hour, then increase the temperature to 160°F the next hour. Finally, set the smoker to 180°F until the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F. You should place the thermometer where summer sausage is the thickest to check on its temperature.
You want to cool down the sausages right after smoking by cold spraying them or dropping them in ice-cold water. The internal temperature should drop to around 100°F. This will stop the meat from overcooking.
At What Temperature Do You Cook Deer Summer Sausage?
Whether you decide to cook deer summer sausage in the oven or on a smoker, the internal temperature needs to reach 160-165°F before being fully cooked.
For oven-cooked sausages, preheat the oven to 185°F and wait until the sausage reaches the desired temperature. You can use a meat thermometer to check when exactly the sausages are cooked.
If you’re cooking the sausages on a smoker, preheat it to 140°F and place the sausages on the smoker for an hour. Then increase the temperature to 160°F, add hickory woodchips, and let them smoke for another hour. At the start of the third hour, set the temperature to 180°F and check on the internal temperature more often.
You might want to brush some water on the meat in the meantime. This will cool down the crust and prevent it from getting burned while the inside can still cook.
Before reading this article, you might have wondered if deer summer sausage is cooked or not. Now, you know that store-bought deer summer sausage is fully seasoned and cooked, and all you have to do is enjoy it with some crackers, your favorite salad, or mashed potatoes.
On the other hand, cooking raw sausages takes some time – be sure to follow my tips above. Hopefully, this article made you more confident in making your own deer summer sausage and sharing your newly acquired skills with friends and family.