Just as essential as stalking, shooting, and tracking, is the ability to make sausage and burger. This preparation is a time-tested method to get the most out of your kill is utilizing cuts like paunch, saddle, skirt, and ribs off of your hoofed game. On my homestead, I have the added bonus of raising heritage pigs to top off my mix, providing me with the unique opportunity to retain certain cuts and fat that would typically never see the butchers display case. If you have a small local butcher you can request pork leaf fat and bellies but expect to pay a premium over pork butt.
I combine pork bellies and leaf fat from my Berkshire/Yorkshire-cross pigs to add fat to my mix. I then prep the venison, elk or moose along with the pork into long thin strips. I prefer cutting the meat to grind into long strips instead of cubes, I have found that the strips tend to catch on the grinder screw and help pull the meat through. For the first pass I use a coarse plate, then I season with black pepper, sea salt and mix by hand. The second pass is with a fine plate which really gives the meat a nice consistency.
To package, I use a sausage press to fill freezer grind bags; a much cheaper alternative to Ziplocs and a great way to portion out your grind. Freezer grind bags can be found in many sizes ranging from ½ pound to five pound. A hundred pack of freezer bags and a tape machine are a steal compared to vacuum bags or Ziplocs. The sausage press is great for filling grind bags. The stuffer fills the bags as it pushes out air and makes a nice finished product for the freezer.
I like leaving whole muscle groups to be broken down later because I prefer options in my freezer. This grind blend is not over-seasoned which makes it versatile. This blend can be formed into burgers, sausage base or added to elevate any recipe calling for ground meat.
Homestead Burger Blend
20% Berkshire/Yorkshire Heritage Pork ( I raise this particular cross-breed for temperament and meat quality)
- Belly fat
- Leaf fat
80% Deer, Elk, or Moose Meat
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A Note on Cuts to Be Ground or NOT
Some hunters will (by default) grind neck, shank and front shoulders of their deer, elk or moose. Although these cuts can be used for grind and sausage, those are not the only options for these cuts. Many preparations other than grinding can prove more diverse and satisfying with these muscle groups. Such as slow roasting, stews and ossobuco. Each muscle group is used and developed differently within the animal which makes each animal full of endless opportunities to utilize. That’s right, endless, which is more than the traditional grind and steak piles.