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Elk Andouille

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Was lucky enough to spend the past near 3-weeks camping out, searching and getting an elk in Nevada with a close buddy.   Following up from some venison andouille I made a few years ago using the same recipe and, again, with meat obtained from gracious friends, I decided to turn some of the elk trimmings into andouille.


Here's a link to the recipe I followed:  http://www.nolacuisine.com/2005/11/14/andouille-sausage-recipe/


I made just a couple alterations to the Nola Cuisine recipe above including cutting the salt back by 33% (still amply salty...YMMV); adding a minced smoked habanero and 2-3T finely ground coffee beans; used 50-50 mix of elk meat and pork shoulder aka Pork Butt.  And I added about 1/2-3/4 pound of pure pork belly fat.  


I did not use pink salt; smoked at 130-ish in the KK over pecan for 2-hours then an additional 90-minutes or so at 165-ish.   Although I should have pulled this batch a little sooner and/or shortened both smoke sessions it came out super delicioso!






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Dan: They look fantastic!! Tell us more about making them - what you used to prepare the meat, what kind of casings, stuffing the casings, etc. They are remarkably uniform - very professional job!!  



Thank you for your compliment!   Given I didn't have a dedicated sausage stuffer the links did come out reasonably uniform.


The elk meat was trimming pieces outside of the 4-quarters, loins and t-loins.  I'm persnickety about getting all the neck meat, belly, brisket, flap, etc. off the animals we harvest.  This can be a problem if the weather heat is high with commensurate flies, yellow jackets, etc.  But once the hide has been removed we wipe the carcass liberally with vinegar, as necessary to repel 90% of the flies and yellow jackets.  Its also vital to not get the animal's hair on the meat and/or remove it ASAP as hair can taint the flavor of the meat especially with North American Pronghorn aka Antelope.


Having said that this elk kill occurred at 7:00AM on a cool morning after a night of rain; ambient weather conditions were perfect.  We were able to skin and get the carcass cooled down very, very quickly.  And because of the early AM kill along with cooler weather we were able to take our time and remove as much extra meat trimmings as possible.


From the kill sight we were back in camp 2-hours later, carefully hand washed any remaining hair, dirt, etc., with another wipe down with white vinegar.  The weather conditions at our 8,000+' campsite could not have been better:  The day was cool with a nice gentle breeze and as such we were able to lay all the meat out on tables (well shaded of course), covered with clean cotton sheets, and allow the pellicle to develop over the next near 24-hours.   


Then once back home I, using a fish fillet knife, went through all the meat trimmings and removed silver skin, tendons, etc.  I'm super fastidious ("anal-retentive" :D) about this as it results in an even more enjoyable product at the table.  Most hunters don't bother with all these details but this is the major reason you hear "...I don't like wild game...it's too gamey...etc.".  You can certainly get, just like with domesticated meat products, variations in flavor, texture and tenderness (or the lack of) but if you pay attention to all the details once the animal hits the ground it will reap big benefits at fork time ;)


After using a Kitchen Aid meat grinder/sausage attachment for a couple decades I finally, a couple years ago, upped to a dedicated grinder...I use a #5 LEM meat grinder here:  http://www.lemproducts.com/product/lem-5-electric-grinder/butcher-meat-grinders


The #5 is perfect for 10lb meat grinding sessions or less.  Arguably the #8 might have been even a better choice but I had to draw the line (mostly storage space limitations) somewhere ;).   Although I have not used a dedicated sausage stuffer and instead relied on the KA and now LEM grinder for the stuffing process I will be getting a dedicated sausage stuffer press as it is easier to manage with more consistent results rather than the second pass process through the grinder.


So, all the meat was cut into approximately 2" chunks prior to seasoning, resting and then grinding.  I did hand cube about 1/3 of the meat (and fat) to 1/4" dice that was mixed into the ground meat, per the above recipe, and it provides a very nice textural component to the andouille.  


I always use and prefer natural casings.  Whole Foods, at least in Reno and Monterey, have fresh hog casings available:  $5.99 that will do about 5-7lbs of meat.  


As with most things handmade, making it at home is a spoiler:  All things sausage included.   Being 1/2 Italian I grew up surrounded by home canning, sausage making, gardens, etc. so sausage making is in my blood.  


We have amazing fresh local fish and seafood that comes out of our local Monterey Bay.   I picked up some live Spotted Prawns, from Monterey Bay, and along with the sliced and warmed Elk Andouille had an amazing 'salad dinner' last night!   My version of 'surf and turf':  Nothing better!

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Dan: Thanks for a fascinating post!! 


 "Being 1/2 Italian I grew up surrounded by home canning, sausage making, gardens, etc. so sausage making is in my blood."


LOL  - me too - EXACTLY - except from my maternal grandmother rather than my mother. And I'm still dreaming about actually making sausage, especially Italian sausage!!! 

And did they have fig trees??? 


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