Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Texas Style Link Sausage

Texas style link sausage, the real homemade stuff, comes in many variations and types. I have been around it all of my life and tried many recipes, maybe hundreds of recipes. Both sets of my grandparents made their own homemade sausage and they were very good but of different styles as they came from different parts of Central Texas. There are many recipes for the different regions and ethnic groups of Texas. I came to favor those made by certain groups from Llano, Mason, Fredericksburg and areas in between.

My favorite was Texas style dried sausage, I spent years trying to find the perfect dried sausage. If you have never had Texas style dried sausage it is a wonderful hard dry sausage that is almost as hard as jerky but has a burst of flavor from spices, smoke and the fact that there is fat in the blend of meats. My German grandmother would toss in a handful of a spice that I still don’t know if I like after 50 years of eating it. It was fennel seed and it added a taste and aroma to dried venison sausage that was at best different, but I always went back for more. My grandfather on the other side of the family liked to put mustard seed in his dried sausage.

Link sausage can be grilled fresh, smoked and later grilled, smoked until cooked, smoked and dried or even boiled in beer making the same sausage taste unique in each instance. I have settled on the meat and basic seasonings as my most made sausage after years of eating and making sausage. The same recipe can taste different depending on the blend of meats used, the wood that was burned to smoke it and what time of year it is.  I use pork, beef, and venison in most of my sausages in various mixes. I like plain pork or plain beef sausage but plain venison is just too dry.  My favorite is a blend of beef or venision for the lean and pork for the fat. I like to use about 80-85 percent lean and the rest fatty. If you like more grease and snap just make the fat a higher percentage of your mix.  I have made sausage links from ground brisket, pork butt and cheap hamburger from the local grocery. All have turned out excellent. The key is to keep everything clean and use the best spices you can get. I start with kosher salt and course ground black pepper. Remember that fine ground black pepper adds heat and course ground black pepper adds flavor. You can add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for heat. Garlic is another often added spice along with many others depending on the recipe. You can make great link sausage with just meat, salt and pepper. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy your sausage, Wild Ed

The following recipe was taken from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website and is as good a recipe for dried sausage as any I’ve tried.

Dry Venison Sausage

Harold Farley

Bastrop, Texas


Grind the meat and mix in the seasoning. Stuff into sausage casings.

Smoke 150ยบ for 3 hours in a smokehouse.

Remove heat and smoke for 24 to 36 hours or until sausage starts to wrinkle.

Hang in a dry area for about 1 month. (Harold must make a lot to hang for a month as ours never lasted that long.)


• 30 lbs. Venison

• 15 lbs. Boston Butts (I often substitute the point or flat end of briskets for pork butts) 

• 12 oz. Salt

• 1 cup Black Pepper

• 2 tablespoons Red Pepper

• 3 tablespoons Sugar

• 1-½ teaspoons Garlic Powder

• 1 oz. Salt Peter (Prague Powder)

• 1 oz. Mustard Seed (For a different taste substitute Fennel seed or mix 50/50 as my Grandparents did.)

Texas Style Link Sausage

This is an all natural recipe and some people prefer to add cure or Prague powder.  I only add cure if I am going to dry the sausage.  You can also substitute an equal amount of Morton's Tender Quick for the kosher salt as that product already has the cure mixed in it.

Hog casings to stuff

8 pounds of ground lean beef, pork or venison

2 pounds of pork or beef fat  (If using hamburger or ground fatty pork butt just use a total of 10 pounds of meat.)

3 tablespoons of kosher salt

3 tablespoons of course ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

You can add to this recipe as you like. We often put cheese and jalapenos in ours. Garlic, onion and other spices such as allspice, mace, marjoram, fennel, mustard seed and even sugar can be added to this recipe.  (You can find thousands of recipes on the net just by searching.)

Mix meat and spices then stuff in casings. Smoke for at least 3 hours and get meat to 165 degrees. You then can freeze or refrigerate until needed. Can be grilled, smoked or dried. We often put links on a rack in the oven at lowest settings, place a wood spoon in the oven door to let the moisture escape and dry for 24 hours to make snack links. The longer you dry them the harder they get. 

This same recipe can be used to make Summer Sausage, just stuff in the larger size collagen casings and smoke to 165 degrees and then cool to 40 degrees as soon as possible.  I drop mine into crushed ice slush.  Once cooled it can be frozen or used as needed.

If you do not know how to stuff sausage links I recommend you watch someone or at least a video on the process.  It is not hard but learning from reading about it can be confusing.  Just go to YouTube and type in sausage making or stuffing sausage and you should find enough to teach you the basics. 

 I will warn you that this is one food hobby that can become an obsession.  If you become good your buddies will search you out and ask you to bring sausage to all the get togethers, hunting trips, fishing trips and other events.  They will start to show up at your door with offerings of dead wild hogs, deer and other mystery meats begging you to make sausage products on the halves.  Don't ask me how I know.  Wild Ed



Now you've got me wanting to take off today to Llano or Mason or F'burg for no reason other than Sausage. The wife was down near Gonzalez yesterday and picked up some mighty fine tomatoes. You know, the kind that smell and taste like tomatoes and not cardboard.

I knew I shoulda waited until Monday to read about sausage. Now I'm wanting some real Texas Hill Country sausage, the fresh stuff.

Have a great weekend, Wild Ed!

Wild Ed said...

Wish I could run over and have some with you. I need to go get a deer just so I can make a batch but I am getting ready for a daughter's wedding and will not be doing anything fun for a while. One of these days maybe we can hit the river for white bass and then go get some sausage or BBQ somewhere. Ed

Fishing in south Texas lakes said...

Well im like 20 minutes from Luling and 35-40 from Gonzales U got me going again lol.
Im a fan of Gonzales sausage and I know that recioe too lol it's amazing sausage really very good.
Thanks Ed much loved the article now I gotta drive and get some cause im not making any today

George Gomez said...

Brother, how do you TIE the links?

Wild Ed said...

George I do it two ways. If I leave enough casing on each end of the link I just tie the ends in a knot. You can also tie with twine or heavy string. If I am making a string of short links I just twist the casing between links. ET

Barbara Swafford said...

Ed, what does cure do and what are the different options to use for cure? Thank you.

Wild Ed said...

Barbara cure is what makes a pork hindquarter ham, a pork belly bacon,a pork loin Canadian bacon or beef brisket into Corned Beef or Pastrami. It adds flavor, color and preserves meat much longer than it would last without being cured. You can cure just about any meat and add to the flavor. We cure venison, chicken and even fish. I brine my turkey for thanksgiving and sometimes add cure to the brine if I am smoking the turkey, it gives turkey a beautiful pink color and that wonderful flavor of smoked turkey. Cure can be injected into meat, rubbed on meat or the meat can be soaked in liquid to be cured. Each kind of meat you are curing will call for a different method and amount of cure. I suggest following specific recipes as you can over cure meats. There are quite a few books on curing and Morton used to offer free booklets and recipes on their website. Good luck, Ed

Anonymous said...

Don’t forget when your in Llano to go to Innmans for their turkey sausage, grew up on their sausage and Coopers BBQ

Anonymous said...

When you are drying the sausage, do you cold smoke. When the cure is added, is it necessary to smoke it to 150 degrees?

Wild Ed said...

If I am going to dry sausage and it has pork in it I smoke to at least 150 degrees cure or not. Straight venison and or beef I just cold smoke and dry.