Simple E-Z to DO Alternatives for Game Meat

  • Burger, steaks, roasts, stew meat, and ribs are all fine and dandy, maybe you want more
  • It’s easy to put breakfast sausage, summer sausage, jerky, and other novelties in the freezer
  • What to do, where to buy supplies, how to process your game meat
Forget about the “gamey” taste of a big buck with these simple alternatives to regular cuts of meat. Photo: Eastman Outdoors

By Jason Houser

As hunters, we don’t have to hunt for the need to put food on the table like our ancestors once did. Today, we hunt for the joy of being outdoors, the thrill of the hunt, making memories, and much more. The food on the table is a bonus, a great gift, that many hunters look forward to for 12 months out of the year.

Many hunters like to process their own wild game. I fall into that category, enjoying the accomplishment of completing the process of taking the meat from the field to the table. It can get messy and take some time, but the payoff is worth it.

Too many hunters are not taking advantage of all the possibilities when it comes to processing their game. Sure, the old standbys like the burger, steaks, roasts, stew meat, and ribs are all fine and dandy, but you don’t have to stop there.

What if you could put breakfast sausage, summer sausage, jerky, and other novelties in the freezer? These foods are just as good, if not better than what a meat processor could do for you, or what you could purchase at the store. And, if you’re concerned with the “gamey” taste associated with a big buck, these simple foods take any strong-taste worry away.

These sausage novelty projects are straightforward and simple, and chances are the recipe will call for ground burger meat. Or, maybe you have an abundance of old ground meat in your freezer and are looking for some alternative uses. With added seasonings and possibly having to adjust the amount of fat to the burger mix, you will be well on your way to enjoy some excellent alternatives to the old standbys most of us are accustomed to with game meat.

Summer sausage is a favorite for many hunters.

Often, much of the food like brats, hot dogs, summer sausage, and other items, will require a sausage stuffer. Sausage stuffers can be purchased separately from your grinder, but most of today’s meat grinders come with the equipment needed to double as a sausage stuffer. If you don’t have a sausage stuffer, a manual hand crank stuffer will suffice for home use. The #10 meat grinder from Eastman Outdoors is equipped with everything you need to grind the meat as well as all your stuffing needs.

I have tried a couple of different sausage and jerky brands, but my brand of choice is Eastman Outdoors. Not to say the others are not good, but Eastman Outdoors has an enormous assortment to choose from, tastes excellent, and their supplies are user-friendly.

If you choose to make meat sticks, brats, summer sausage and other foods that require casings, make sure you purchase the correct type and size of casings for the recipe you are following. Casings come in several sizes and materials. For example, collagen casings are edible and are often used for hot dogs and brats. Fibrous casings, on the other hand, are not edible. These types of casings are used for foods like bologna, summer sausage and pepperoni. Double-check what you are purchasing to make sure it will work for the project you are doing.

A manual stuffer is much cheaper than an electric stuffer. Photo: Eastman Outdoors

When you use a grinder/sausage stuffer, there are some things you should know before you begin to make the process go smoothly.

Place the metal parts into the freezer ahead of time: plates, knife, head, auger, and tray. When the parts are cold, they will do a better job grinding the meat. The same with the meat. Keep it as cold as possible without freezing. Try to not touch the meat except when needed. Your hands put off heat.

Many recipes are going to call for an 80/20, 85/15, or 90/10 blend of meat/fat. To do this, you’ll need some help from another source, as your particular cut of meat may be too lean. Purchase beef or pork fat from your local butcher and keep it frozen until you’re ready to grind.

As soon as the meat begins to slow, or come out mushy, stop grinding and remove the sinew build-up from the knife and auger. Then, replace your newly cleaned auger, knife, and plate. The buildup will cause the meat to warm— and warm meat is never a good thing.

Making delicious foods from home with just a grinder, sausage stuffer and the ready-to-use kits for specialty food-making is a breeze.

Stop eating the same old deer meat and get creative this season. You’ll be glad you did.