I have to say, I love everything about this time of year. Thanksgiving is such a special time to spend with friends and family, but once the meal is over you get the sudden urge to break out the tinsel, string up lights, and blare Christmas music 24/7 until you can’t take it anymore. Or have you been doing this since Halloween? 😉 My family has some long-standing holiday traditions, and I have got to share one of those with you today. Is anyone else thinking summer sausage? Because I am! Every year my family and I would make sure to buy a few sticks of summer sausage from Hickory Farms–they have the best! Oh, and their cheese? Wonderful to eat by itself. Call me weird, but I had the urge to have some homemade summer sausage this year. I’ve never made it before, but from what others were saying, it looked too easy. And it was! Not only is the flavor absolutely amazing, but also you can save money by making your own. This recipe is both savory and a little sweet with just a hint of cayenne for flavoring. This sausage is sure to be a favorite and will disappear quickly. Trust me, this is some seriously delicious summer sausage, and it might even be the best I’ve ever had…
Start with your 2 pounds of ground beef by placing it into a medium-sized bowl. I would recommend getting ground chuck, no fattier. Mix in the cure or curing salt of your choice. (If you are using a curing salt, you may be able to omit the salt from this recipe. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.)
Many of the recipes online will tell you to use Morton’s Tender Quick. This is perfectly fine…if you can manage to find it. It will not be sold in the majority of grocery stores, Walmarts, etc. I was able to find another brand of meat cure at Gander Mountain. Try looking at sporting good or camping stores in their meat processing section, usually surrounded by the cast iron skillets and other cooking utensils. Also, please note that if you are looking to make your own sausage always, and I mean always, follow the directions on the cure packaging rather than the recipe. I saw one recipe calling for 1/8 c. of Morton Tender Quick while I only needed to use 1/2 tsp for 2 pounds of meat. Okay, after saying all that….
Now that you have mixed the cure into the meat, refrigerate the meat over night. You will notice that the cure will turn the meat a brownish color and that is completely fine.
In a small bowl whisk together the liquid smoke, onion powder, granulated garlic, paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over the ground beef and mix together.
Divide the meat into two evenly divided portions. To shape the meat, place one of the halves onto a piece of foil and bring two sides of the foil together, closing around the meat. Begin rolling it back and forth on the counter and help form it into a log/stick/roll until it is the size and shape that you want it, making sure that it is well held together. I find the foil to help bring it together nicely. Repeat this step with the other half of the meat.
Remove the meat from the foil and place it on a broiler pan. Or, if you are like me and you don’t have a broiler pan, voila! Makeshift broiler pan!
I took a 12″ pizza pan and set it on top of my cast iron skillet. And let me tell you, it works beautifully. You will need something to catch all the fat and grease that will be coming out of the ground beef (and my cast iron doesn’t mind getting a little seasoning in the process).
All that’s left is to bake it at 225 degrees for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. (Note: I cooked mine for about 3 1/2 hours and left it in the oven for the remaining 1/2 hour.) Allow it to cool (if you can wait that long) and refrigerate (whatever’s left after you have let it “cool”). Serve with cheese, crackers, and any other delicious toppings like spicy brown mustard. Enjoy!
Holiday Summer Sausage
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1/2 tsp. meat cure (or use amount as directed on packaging)
- 2 tbsp. liquid smoke
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Combine ground beef with meat cure in a medium-sized bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- In a small bowl, whisk together spices. Pour over the ground beef and mix together.
- Divide meat into 2 separate portions. Using foil, shape each half into a stick.
- Place on a broiler pan (or something equivalent to it)
- Cook at 225 degrees for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
- Allow to cool. Slice and refrigerate. Serve with cheese, crackers, or any other delicious toppings of your choice.