Herbal Elk Country Sausage with Chili-Smoked Onion Marmalade
Courtesy of Chef John McGannon, wildeats.com
We’re in the rut of the BBQ season, and I mean that in a good way. It’s always a challenge to come up with new and exciting ways to feature your wild game meats. But for me, making sausage is a great way to showcase your wild game with an endless list of flavor and seasoning combos. It’s also a great way to stretch out the yield of your prized game meats. The recipe below, with only two pounds of elk meat, can serve as many as 16! This recipe will give you a solid base to work from. Feel free to adjust the flavors to suit your taste. And just a hint: like optics, buy the best grinder you can afford. It really does make a difference.
Herbal Elk Country Sausage
Yield: approximately 16 Servings
3 lb lean pork butt, cubed
2 lb cubed elk, tendons and sinew removed
1 lb pork fat, cubed
2 tsp white pepper
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 cups ice cubes
1⁄2 tsp ground mace or nutmeg
1 tsp lightly toasted anise seeds
Approximately 1⁄4 cup assorted fresh herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon, dill, basil, thyme or any other mild, refreshing herb available
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate overnight. Then grind the meat through the 1⁄8-inch hole plate of the meat grinder twice. I always take a small sample of the sausage and cook it in a pan to confirm the seasonings are to my taste. It’s much easier to make adjustments at this point than realize it after they are stuffed into casings or made into logs or patties.
Keeping the sausage in bulk allows you to have a lot of flexibility for its uses. The sausages can be grilled or pan-fried, used as stuffing or browned for tomato sauce, lasagna, tacos, country-style gravy for your biscuits, etc.
Chili-Smoked Onion Marmalade
1 large yellow onion, cut into slices
1 tbsp freshly minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of dried chipotle chili (or if you want the smoky flavor without the heat try some smoked paprika)
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
This savory marmalade can be cooked in a sauce pot by slowly caramelizing all the ingredients until they are soft and slightly browned, or you can add the ingredients to the pan that you’re cooking sausage in. This adds another level of flavor to the dish. Simply brown your sausage patties on both sides. Remove the seared sausage to the side. Place all the ingredients for your marmalade into the same pan. Lightly brown the onion mixture and then place the sausage back on top of the onions. Cover the pan and continue to cook slowly until the onions are translucent and the sausage is firm. Adjust the seasoning, add some fresh chopped parsley or other herb of choice and dig in. Be sure to include some nice crusty bread.
A Note on Spices
You should always buy spices in their whole form (not pre-ground) and grind them as needed. When adding any seeds (spices) like fennel, anise, cumin, caraway or sesame, try lightly toasting them in a dry pan before grinding. You will be amazed at how much more fragrance and flavor you’ll get.
John McGannon is chef/founder of Wildeats Enterprises, a life member of the RMEF, host of popular wild game cooking seminars at the foundation’s Elk Camp and a passionate hunter.