Thursday, August 29, 2013

Can I use mahogany casings in the oven?

Dave from Elk Ridge, Maryland wrote:

I make summer sausage and bake it in a oven, since my smoker took a turn for the worse. I mix the meat roll in logs, wrap it in tin foil, and bake. Now: Can I use edible and non-edible casings in the oven to make my sausages, or will the oven destroy the non-edible casings?

Thanks for the question,

Sorry to hear your smoker is acting up! You can use the mahogany summer sausage casings (non-edible fibrous casings) in your oven. Just keep the oven temperature at or below 200F. If you run hotter than that, you will dry your product out from the dry heat a standard oven produces.

It's very difficult to find edible casings for making traditional summer sausage (in other words you're not likely to find edible casings big enough), so I would stick with the traditional fibrous mahogany casing.

Keep the oven temperature down and you will be fine. And get that smoker going again, or get yourself a shiny new Weston Smoker or Bradley Smoker!

Good luck and thanks again for the question.

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cold Smoking vs. Hot Smoking

Steve from Billings, MT asked: 

Brad, what’s the difference between a cold smoked wild game product and a hot smoked wild game product?

Thanks for the great question Steve!

Cold smoking sounds pretty simple but doing it properly takes a little work and monitoring. Let's begin with "Hot Smoking," which is the standard practice of smoking & cooking meat products at the same time.

Generally, you will place your products in the smoker and turn the cabinet temperature up to 140F - 160F, add your wood chips and smoke for 2-3 hours depending on how many pounds of product and the diameter of the product in the smoker. Next, you will begin increasing the temperature in the cabinet until a final determined internal temperature is reached. This is the standard practice of "Hot Smoking" - defined as applying heat to the product while smoking at the same time.

Now let's discuss "Cold Smoking," which is a favorite practice of mine! Cold smoking is the art of applying smoke to a product without applying heat. To do this, you will need a smoker with a separate smoke generator, like the Bradley Smoker Series. This smoker has two separate heating elements: one for the cabinet heat and one for the smoke generator. In this situation, you can simply turn on the smoke generator and leave the cabinet heating element turned off. I also add ice to the cabinet to be sure the temperature doesn't raise above 41F during the smoking process. Now you can smoke for extended periods of time without drying out or overcooking your product and the ice will keep the product cool to prevent the growth of bacteria. This technique works very well for heavy smoked products and smoked cheese!

Thanks again for the great question! I enjoyed it.

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why isn't my grinder mixing up my meat?

Chuck from Cranberry, PA asked:

When I grind up venison, I add in some beef shoulder for the fat. But it doesn’t get mixed together in the grinder, it just comes out separate. Am I doing something wrong?

Thanks for the question Chuck,

Anytime I mix pure fat into my wild game meats, I always dice the fat into very, very small pieces before grinding - about the size of the diced onions you would put on a hot dog. If you're just mixing fatty beef in, cut it into the same size you have your wild game. Then I mix the fat into my lean wild game trim very well and then grind. This will help get it mixed into your meat batch nice and even.The key is to mix your fat or domestic meat into the wild game before you grind it to get it evenly distributed. The grinder isn't meant to do that for you.

Good luck this fall and thanks again for the question.

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Monday, August 19, 2013

Love of the Hunt TV: African Springbok Burgers

This is a segment from Love of the Hunt TV. In this clip, Brad's in Africa, making burgers from Springbok (Antelope-Gazelle). Plus, he presents the tour chef with a surprise gift from Weston Products. In this video, Brad uses:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How do I know when my jerky is done?

Bryce Schunter from Dallas, TX asked:


I’m a first time jerky maker. I’m using one of these Weston Dehydrators – how long do I leave it in for? How do I know when it’s done?

Well Bryce, the answer to your question is not an easy one! It sounds like it should be! However, knowing when to remove jerky from the smoker or dehydrator is an art form! Well, maybe we won't go that far, but it does take a little talent to get it just right.

First thing you need to do is track how much jerky you put in the cabinet each time. The more meat, the more drying time required; the thicker the strips, the more drying time needed. Write down the temperatures and the amount of time you run at each temperature so you can get an accurate time/temperature history developed of how long to dry and at what temperature.

When removing jerky from any drying machine, you want the jerky to remain a little flexible. If you dry the jerky completely to perfection, and the jerky strips are snapping in half as you try to bend them, that's not good. When you remove them from the heat, your jerky will continue to air dry because of the ambient heat remaining in the product. When this happens, your jerky is going to over dry! If you remove it too quickly, it may not be completely cooked.

WOW, right? It seems like a lot to figure out. The trick here is to squeeze the jerky to see if you feel moisture and a spongy feeling to the product. If you feel this when you squeeze the strip of jerky, it usually means it's not completely dried or not cooked.

The key is to catch the jerky when it's firm to the squeeze, yet when you bend it to a 90 degree angle, it doesn't snap in half!

I know this seems like a strange answer, this is much better defined in my DVD Advanced Jerky Processing which covers in great detail the processing of every jerky you can imagine. The true keys are tracking the time and temperatures you cook at, making sure to make even sized batches and uniform thickness each time. When the jerky looks dried, squeeze it for moisture, bend it to be sure, let it finish drying at room temperature, then sample it.

Let me know how it turns out! Thanks for the great question!

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Monday, August 12, 2013

Open Fire Springbok Schnitzel

This is a segment from Love of the Hunt TV. In this clip, Brad's in Africa, showing you how to process a Springbok (Antelope-Gazelle). Plus, the tour chef shows Brad how to make a campfire Springbok Schnitzel. In this video, Brad uses: