Cooking Wild Recipe: Fresh Bear Sausages

Smokin’ good sausages without the smoke!

If you’re an avid black bear hunter like me, no doubt you still have a nice little stash of autumn bear denned up in your freezer by the time spring hunting season rolls around. If so, here’s a delicious way to use up the aged meat and make room for the new bounty you hope to bag. Of course, if you don’t have a stash of autumn bear then all the more reason to get out and enjoy the spring hunt!

Basically there are two types of sausages — fresh which are made out of raw or uncured meats and smoked which are made from meats that have been cured and smoked. Fresh sausages are a great pick for the novice sausage maker to break ground with as they don’t call for casings, sausage stuffing equipment or a smoker.

Fresh sausages must be cooked before eating and will keep in the refrigerator for several days after which time they must be frozen for safekeeping. Smoked sausages, on the other hand, have to be stuffed into casings in order to go through the smoking process. They can be eaten out of hand and save indefinitely when stored in a cool place.

These mouthwatering fresh sausages are made from a blend of bear meat and fatty pork and since they call for cooking before eating there’s no fear of contacting trichinosis — a parasitic disease caused from eating raw or undercooked susceptible meats such as bear and pork. Since the trichina larvae are impossible to detect with the naked eye there’s no way of knowing whether they’re present or not in the meat and although a stint in the freezer is good practice as it helps destroy the larvae, bear like pork must be cooked thoroughly — until internal temperature reaches at least 74 degrees Celsius — to ensure safe eating.

Any cuts of bear can be used (or if you’re out of bear, try moose, deer, elk or a blend of venison meats in the recipe.) The meat trimmed off roasts, steaks, stew cut and previously frozen ground meat work great. As for pork content, I use fat trimmed from shoulder, butt or leg with a bit of lean meat intact. Keep in mind that if you do not use enough pork fat the sausages will be hard and dry — too much fat and they will be greasy and shrink drastically upon cooking. You may have to experiment to get the texture that suits you best.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds bear meat trimmed of excess fat and cubed for grinding
  • 2 pounds well larded pork trimmed from the cuts mentioned above and cubed for grinding (save the lean for other purpose)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ground marjoram
  • ¼ cup whole coriander seeds (or couple teaspoons ground spice although I enjoy the wonderful burst of flavour when biting into a whole coriander seed)
  • Crushed chilies to suit taste (optional)

Grind meats using fine disk. Put into large bowl, sprinkle with seasonings and work through with your hands. I’ve given rough measures for spices but you can adjust to suit taste or use seasonings of choice. You can also use a commercial breakfast sausage seasoning mix according to directions on packet available where sausage-making supplies are sold. Let mixture stand in fridge for 24 hours then form by hand into patties or roll into logs for uniform slicing into patties. Layer the patties between sheets of waxed paper before freezing to make separation easy. One of my favourite methods of storing the sausage mixture is to pack it into clean tin cans of chosen size, cover with a foil lid and freeze. These are perfect for tucking into the icebox for camping fare. To use — simply open the bottom of the can, push the meat through with the lid and slice into patties of desired thickness for frying. For those who like a traditional sausage, the mixture can be stuffed into real pork gut or manmade casings available at butcher shops. To cook, heat fat in skillet and fry until crispy and golden on both sides and middle is well done.

Note: Some of the sausage mixture can also be frozen loosely (as you would freeze plain ground meat) in suitable-sized portions for making super savory meatballs, meatloaf or as stuffing for cabbage rolls.

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