"SAUSAGE MAKING DAY " Luke Clayton I guess my childhood roots still run pretty deep. When I was a youngster growing up in rural Red River County, my dad picked a cold, clear winter's day for what he called his annual sausage grinding. We would butcher a couple of hogs in the morning hours and make sausage in the afternoon. I no longer raise domestic hogs but still stock the freezer with plenty of pork from the wild. My Dad would have a tough time believing the woods in Texas today are full of wild hogs, many corn fed from frequent visits to deer hunters corn feeders. Keeping the tradition alive, I began making sausage at home back in the seventies and expanded a bit on my dads basic blend of breakfast pan sausage. Granted, country pan sausage is very tasty, but so is Chorizo (Mexican sausage, great for making breakfast tacos), smoked hot links and summer sausage! Ive found many of my friends were interested in making sausage at home and turned the event in to a social endeavor. We pool our game meat, and spend an hour or so boning the meat, getting it ready for the meat grinder. With a big campfire blazing and a pot of coffee warming, we enjoy a leisure day of fun and fellowship rather then the intense work sessions I remember as a youngster. Photo by Luke Clayton Granted, we enjoy making sausage at home as much for the fellowship as the meat, but it was serious business back when I was a kid. As in any task oriented project involving several people, sausage making requires a bit of planning. I always supply the seasonings, casings for stuffing the links and summer sausage, and have a good idea of who is bringing what. Its important to have a little fat in the sausage as well and the lean provided by the choice cuts from venison and wild pork. I usually have some pork trimmings from the butcher to add to the blend. The sausage we crank out is much leaner than any that can be purchased at the grocery and, to my way of thinking, much more tasty! Maybe this is because we test fry a little sampling of each sausage blend before it gets the final approval. Rather than mixing all the spices, I prefer to buy pre-mixes from Allied Kenco Sales in Houston (www.alliedkenco.com). These folks have everything from the meat grinders to the hard to find items such as casings for making smoked links. We use several plastic tubs and begin our morning by grinding all the meat. Ive found a large capacity hand grinder with an adapter that hooks to an electric drill, making it automatic, works best. Many of the smaller electric grinders simply do not have the umph to get the job done. Nothing would be worse than having a grinder break down when all the meat is defrosted. I keep the handle to the old grinder handy as a back up. If all else fails, if one can supply the horsepower by turning the crank, the meat will get turned into sausage! So, even if you have your venison and pork in the freezer, its not too late to begin your sausage making tradition. Simply defrost the meat and either grind it yourself of take it back to the processor for grinding, then add the seasonings. Begin with a small amount of sausage, until you get the hang of making sausage at home, then by next fall, youll be a bonified Sausagemeister! There are several excellent books out that will help you get started in making sausage at home. Go to the Allied Kenco web site to find them. Other game cooking tips: Duck breasts, when marinated in a 50-50 solution of Soy Sauce and Cola overnight are excellent eating. I like to place a piece of jalapeno pepper in the boned-out duck breasts, wrap with good bacon and smoke until thoroughly done. Some folks might like duck served rare, and most of the cook books suggest it be served this way, but to my way of thinking, this is exactly what makes people say, No, I dont like duck, the last I had tasted like liver! I hunt ducks near my home two or three times a week and have become pretty good at determining the most flavorful species. The best eating species, according to my taste, include Wood Ducks, Mallards, Teal , Pintail and Widgeon but, when marinated in Soy Sauce and cola and smoked, Gadwall and even Redheads are excellent. Be sure to catch Luke's weekly radio show at www.catfishradio.com . And check out the new Radio Station feature at www.catfish1.com: http://www.catfish1.com/forums/radiostations.php.