Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wet vs. Dry Aging

Bart from Houlka, MS asked:

 I have always soaked my deer in cold water for 2-3 days to age my meat before I process it. Is this okay or should I do something different? Thanks!


I prefer to dry age meats and allow the moisture in the meat to evaporate. Then, if I require additional moisture, I use a marinade to add moisture. What I have experienced with aging meat in water is strong game flavors. The moisture in the meat is one of the primary factors that cause what people refer to as "Gamey Flavor." When you soak the meat in water, it pulls the body moisture out of the meat, but then the meat just soaks in that mixture of water and body moisture, keeping the gamey flavor in the meat. I find dry aging a much better method.

Good luck!

Brad Lockwood

Friday, December 23, 2011

Love of the Hunt TV: Jalapeno Summer Sausage

      This is a segment from Love of the Hunt TV. In this episode, Brad shows you how to make Jalapeno Summer Sausage using Hi Mountain Seasonings, Outdoor Edge knives, a Weston scale, meat grinder, & sausage stuffer, and a Bradley Smoker.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How do I use curing salt and where can I buy it?

Paul from Waxahachie, TX asked:

I need your advice - I want to try to put together some spices of my own to make sausage, but what do I do for a curing kit (sodium nitrate)? Where do I purchase this, and are there instructions on how to use it? Thanks for your help!


Sodium nitrate is often referred to as pink curing salt. The salt that you will receive only contains .0625% of actual sodium nitrate, the rest of the mix is actually just salt with pink color added so you don't confuse it with regular salt. Actual sodium nitrate is a controlled substance and can only be purchased by large commercial packing companies. 

Any country meat shop around you should be able to sell you "pink cure salt." You will add it at the rate of .25 or one quarter of a pound for every 100lbs of meat. Mix it with water before you add it to the meat, this will help dissolve the salt and make it easier to spread evenly across your meat.

Thanks Paul and good luck,

Brad Lockwood
Meat Man!

Monday, December 19, 2011

How do I keep mahogany casings from sticking to my summer sausage?

Scott from Vassar, MI said:

Sometimes when I make summer sausage, the fibrous casing is hard to peel off. Any ideas how to stop this?


Have you been soaking your mahogany casings in water for 10-15 minutes before you stuff your product into them? If so, then try adding some milk to the water -- just enough to color the water a little. The lactate in the milk will make the casing slippery and help during the removal process.

Thanks Scott,

Brad Lockwood
Meat Man!

Do I fill the water bowl and open the dampers in an electric smoker to make sausage?

Paul from Waxahachie, Texas asked:

When using an electric smoker to make sausage, how open or closed do I leave the damper on top? And also, when smoking, do I fill the water bowl, or leave it dry?
Thanks Brad!

Great question Paul,

The damper on the smoker is often overlooked and it's a very important aspect of smoking meats. We talk about this in several segments of The Advanced Sausage Processing DVD

By opening the damper, you allow moisture to escape the smokehouse. You make the burner run harder to keep the temperature up, and this dries both the air and your product. 

By closing the damper, you do the opposite - hold moisture in. The heating element runs less to maintain the cabinet temperature, creating a high humidity environment. This will also allow natural smoke to stay in the cabinet and penetrate into your sausage product. 

You may want to dry the surface of some products a little before you begin smoking. To do this, open the damper and let the moisture out. You can also experiment with opening the damper 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 of the way. 

The general purpose of the damper is to control the amount of moisture and smoke in the cabinet. The purpose of the additional water from the pan serves the same purpose - to put additional humidity into the cabinet. 

Thanks Paul,

Meat Man! 

How do I make Venison Bacon?

Paul from Waxahachie, TX asked:

I ate awesome venison bacon from a sausage house I normally go to. Hopefully soon I will be able to master my own. What spice kit do you use for bacon and how do I press it to form bacon the way the sausage house does it? It looks just like bacon. Recipe and smoking directions, if you can. Please help me, I love this stuff!


This is one of my favorite products and I actually make this product step by step in our New Mastering Marination DVD.

There is just not enough room on the blog page to tell you step by step how to make Venison Bacon. Ground Venison Bacon is a tricky but tasty product to make and there are several steps to the process that are all well described in the DVD. The DVD also covers the processing of Venison Canadian Bacon from the back strap and Venison Boneless and Bone in hams. It's a great video worth adding to your library.

Thanks for the question,

Meat Man.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What is the best way to season homemade sausage?

Paul from Waxahachie, TX said:
I have bought your advanced game video library, electric meat grinder, etc. Love your videos, but the question I need answered is: I want to make wow sausage. Not just good or okay products. What is or are the best spice kit products on the market to start with that are very flavorful? Give me your best advice, not just a brand that sponsors you. Thanks!

Paul, thank you so much for this very good question. I do cover this topic in the Advanced Sausage Processing DVD. Always keep in mind that the seasoning kits you purchase are ONLY a base flavor profile of the product. A Hickory Jerky seasoning, for example, is simply a flavor created in a lab to suit everyone's basic taste, not your specific taste buds. With that being said, pick a flavor that you like, then soup it UP! Change it, tweak it, modify it, add to it, make it your very own.

If it's not hot enough, add some crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper. If it's not sweet enough, add some sugar, maple syrup or brown sugar. If it's not salty enough, add some extra salt. If you like the flavor of a particular seasoning but it's too bland for you; rather than add one package for 15lbs of meat, add the entire package to 10 lbs. Most importantly, keep track of what you do. Write it down in a recipe book so you know what you did. Then, if you like it, you can do it again or modify it even more. Experiment with small batches made several different ways until you figure out what you like. In closing, always remember the pre-packaged kits are only base flavor profiles; you need to change them and make them YOUR VERY OWN. I have tasted several National Award Winning products that were simply a pre-packaged mix with a few additional ingredients added.

Good luck and thanks for the great question!

Brad Lockwood
The Meat Man!

How can I cook sausage without a smoker?

Shane from Ashland, NE said:


Having five daughters, one just starting college, money is tight - so no Bradley Smoker at my house. Is there another way to cook my summer sausage?



Sure, you can smoke your products in a household oven. However, you will need to add liquid smoke to the meat batch during the grinding process. This will add the smoke flavor rather than the natural wood smoke. 

In my Advanced Sausage Processing DVD, we cover this topic and one thing to be very careful of is the amount of liquid smoke you use and how you mix it into the meat. If you add too much, you can really give your product a bitter smoke flavor. Also, because you are adding such a small amount, it's very difficult to mix it evenly though out the meat, so mix the liquid smoke with a cup or so of water, depending on how large a batch you are making. Then add it to your meat. This will dilute the liquid smoke and help you get it evenly spread though out your meat batch. 

During the cooking process, be sure to put a large pan of water in the bottom to keep moisture in your oven. Also, see the other blog question under summer sausage about the addition of non fat dry milk to keep the product solid.

Good luck Shane and thanks for the question,

Meat man!

What kind of table and cutting board should I use to process game?

Paul from Waxahachie, TX said:

I want to buy a plastic folding table to cut up and process my game. Is this type of table ok? I saw your table on the DVD. You look like you had some type of poly plastic cutting board covering your table. Can you help me with a table good for processing? How long should it be? I also cannot locate your Marinating DVD on your website. Thanks for your advice.

Thanks for the question Paul. I do simply use a folding table that you can purchase in any store. The cutting board that I use is actually a product made of Commercial Grade poly material. However, I did purchase a large white cutting board of equal size at Cabela's for David Bloch of Outdoor Edge (He needed one BAD). Nice gift for him. This is an item that we may add to The Hunter's Butcher Shop line up in the future. 

And as for the Mastering Marination DVD, we don't have it up on this page, however you can purchase it from Cabela's or the Outdoor Edge website. We will get it on this website very soon.

Thanks and good luck,

Meat Man 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All these jerky recipes call for ketchup - Can I skip it?

West from Moncks Corner, S.C. asked:
I am going to try to make my own jerky this year. But, the recipes that I have are asking for Ketchup. I am not a big fan of the product. The question that I have is: What does the ketchup do for the meat? Or can I just leave it out?

Ketchup! I have never worked with a recipe that asked for ketchup other than meatloaf lunchmeat. I would bypass that ingredient in jerky for sure. Thanks for the question West!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The sausages I make shrink in the dehydrator - What am I doing wrong?

Kendall from Chapin, IL said:
I have tried making summer sausages and snack sticks. When I cook them in an oven or dehydrator, they always shrink badly. But, when I get them done professionally, the casings and meat stay nice and smooth. What am I doing wrong?

My Favorite Question!! Be sure to watch the Summer Sausage video on my Hunter's Butcher Shop blog to learn the secret! 

Add some non fat dry milk to your meat batch. 1/2lb for every 25# of meat. The non fat dry milk does not change the flavor at all, but will help bind and hold additional water during the cooking process. This will keep your product nice and firm. 

Another secret in the video is to use ice rather than water during the grinding process so you don't break down the proteins in the meat by overheating the meat. 

Always remember when cooking in the oven, you are applying a very dry heat that tends to really dry out your product so placing a large pan full of water into your oven will help create humidity and reduce the shrink on the product. 

Also use Hi Mountains Summer Sausage mix as it already contains additional binders to help keep the product firm during the cooking process. 

For even further instructions see the Advanced Sausage Processing DVD on the website as well. If you're a sausage maker, you will absolutely love it!

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How long do I bake wild boar in the oven?

Christopher from Newport Beach, California said:
I recently went on a hunting trip for Wild Boar and was successful in harvesting 
3 good size animals. My question is: How long per pound should I bake the hams in the oven?


Wild Boar is one of my favorite wild game meats so I'm very glad you asked! I have embedded a video from my Butcher Block segment below. In the video, you will see how we prepare an elk roast using the new CanCooker. I realize you are preparing this roast in an oven, but the segment I would like you to see is the seasoning application. The method that we use to cut the roast and get the seasoning deep inside that large muscle is very important. When you simply rub the seasoning on the outside surface of the meat you will get very little seasoning penetration, but by deboning the roast and placing the seasoning deep inside the meat you will get a spectacular flavor out of your Wild Hog Roast! 

Try it out - I know you will enjoy it! And as far as cooking time is concerned, my theory on all wild game meat is: "Low and Slow." Cook at a low temperature, 250-300F and the size of the roast will determine the cooking time. If you use a Reynolds oven bag as we do in several of our Butcher Block Segments, it will hold the natural juices in and give you a moist and tender product. I cook all my roasts until they fall & shred apart. The length of time will be determined by the size of the roast, but if you use an oven bag inside your smoker or oven, you will have no issues with the meat drying out on you, so you can cook it about as long as you want.

Try the CanCooker on wild game meats as well! You will love the way it cooks with steam and keeps the meat nice and moist! You can check it out on my Hunter's Butcher Shop site: TheHuntersButcherShop.com/Cancooker.

Thanks for your question Christopher!