Smoked sausage has been made and enjoyed around the world for centuries. Originally, smoking sausage was to preserve meat for a longer period of time, but with the invention of freezers and refrigerators, smoked sausage has become a delicacy purely for its smoky flavor and these days is often served as a snack by itself, or as an ingredient of stews, soups, and other meals. Though smoked sausage is widely available in stores, many hunters and chefs prefer learning how to smoke sausage themselves to create unique flavors.
Start with a stuffed casing at room temperature, then dry your sausage before smoking.
Drying the Sausage:
You can achieve the drying by placing the sausage in your smoker or smokehouse with the damper open at about 140-150° for one hour.
Reasons for drying the sausage:
Smoking the Sausage:
Smoking can be achieved by placing a pan of sawdust or wood chips in the smoker on the burner. The sawdust or wood chips must be soaked in water at least one hour. Soak in half the volume of water that you have sawdust/chips. (4 cups sawdust/2 cups water) Heat the smoker to approximately 170⁰ to ignite the sawdust or wood chips to achieve smoke. Close the damper to half open at this point.
Get creative here with your sawdust or your wood chips. Try hickory or maple flavors, as well as mesquite, oak, pecan, or walnut. Also, get creative with your seasonings. If you happen to be smoking chicken sausage, try adding apple juice instead of water when adding your seasoning, then smoke with hickory flavor. Simply delicious!
Cooking the Sausage:
As the sawdust or wood chips burn, the water will evaporate and a dry heat will set in. The dry smoke will set the smoke in the sausage. After most of the sawdust or wood chips have burned, remove the pan from the smoker and let the pan cool for 5-10 minutes. After this time, fill the pan half full of water and return to the burner. Close the damper and turn the temperature to approximately 180-190⁰, this will cause a high humidity to cook the sausage.
High humidity will cook the sausage very quickly as well as tenderize the casings; especially natural casings. High humidity also helps to cook the sausage without drying it out too much. Cook sausage until the internal temperature of 165⁰ is reached.
Cooling the Sausage:
Proper cooling is important for the safety of the product as well as the desired look of the finished product. Remove the sausage from the smoker and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process. The cold water will start the sausage cooling and keep the casing tender. This will also prevent shriveling and shrinkage. While timing will vary depending upon the type of sausage you are making, cool until the internal temperature reaches 120⁰.
Allow sausage to sit or rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes after removing it from the cold water. Then place in the refrigerator. Do not place the sausage directly in the refrigerator. This could cause the sausage to sour and wrinkle.
Smoked sausage will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. If not consumed within that time frame, it should be frozen. If you would prefer to freeze them, vacuum seal your smoked sausage and it will last for up to 12 months in the freezer.
And remember… A little time and patience can give excellent results.