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It’s the season

December 1, 2011

Editor’s Note: This column appeared in the Nov. 30, 2011 edition of the Greater Ashland Beacon.
By Chris Erwin

For the last couple weeks hunters across the state have been doing their best to outsmart a deer for both the table and a trophy. All indicators point to another record harvest.

Once you bag your deer it’s time to get it ready for the table. Many hunters take their deer to a butcher to have it cut and packaged for the freezer, while many others tackle the job themselves. Whatever group you fall into, there are many things you can do with your harvest before freezing it.

Everyone should have their deer cut and packaged to suit their needs. I cut the tenderloin into steaks, and then carve out a few choice roasts. The rest I cut into ground meat and jerky.

I usually have a lot of ground meat. Before I grind it, I remove all the fat trimming with my filleting knife; I personally don’t care for the taste of deer fat. I buy pork or beef fat to mix with the trimmed deer meat and grind them together with just enough fat so it will produce a small amount of grease in the skillet when I fry it.

By Chris Erwin. Summer Sausage and Trail Bologna shown here are ready for the oven.

I divide this ground meat so some of it can be used for burgers and some for sauces, at least one third I use for my favorite thing to do with the ground meat: Making Summer sausage and trail bologna. I had the pleasure of eating both while traveling in the upper part of Ohio, where the Amish took great pains in producing some of the best summer sausage and trail bologna I’ve ever tested anywhere, made of any kind of meat.

While many writers are busy writing a 600 page novel, I have been writing a wild game cookbook for the last three years. So, when I tasted what I felt was the best summer sausage made from deer that I have ever tasted in my life, I just had to have the recipe.

After some begging and bribing, I managed to pry out the recipe for both. I want to share them with you today.

Before I get into giving you the recipe let me just say they are some secrets to making this right. To make summer sausage or trail bologna, the ground mixed meat must cure. This takes time. Many recipes say to let it stand in the refrigerator overnight, but this is not near enough time to cure the meat to make this right.


5 lbs. deer burger (with suet, or mix equally with hamburger)

5 tsp. Morton Tender Quick (this is an Amish meat cure)

10 tsp. hickory smoke salt

3 tsp. garlic salt

3 tsp. coarse black pepper

3 tsp. mustard seed

Mix all ingredients together very thoroughly, then cover the bowl and refrigerate. Each day, for three days, take the meat out of the refrigerator and knead or mix with your hands. On the fourth day, take it out and make three or four rolls. Put it on a drip pan in the oven for nine hours at 150 degrees. After 4 .5 hours of baking, turn the rolls over and finish baking.

Author’s note: Instead of making the meat into rolls I buy casings online and use them with my meat grinder to produce sausage rolls. I then cook them at 150 degrees for 4.5 hours turning them to finish the nine hour cooking time.


2 lb. group chuck or deer meat or 1 lb. each

2 tbsp. tender quick

2 tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/2 tsp. cracked peppercorns

1/4 c. water

Mix together until meat gets sticky on hands. Form into links as desired. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for three days, taking it out of the refrigerator to knead or mix with your hands daily. On the fourth day, unwrap the mixture, feed it back through the grinder and into sausage casings. Place the links on a broiler pan and bake 1 hour at 300 degrees. While warm, tap off excess grease (I blot with paper towels) and refrigerate.

By Chris Erwin. The supplies needed for both recipes.

My family will eat this stuff like candy. It’s great for parties. Just slice it and add sharp cheese on a full flavored cracker. It is always a hit and a good way you use that deer.

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