I finally got a day off after 8 straight days at the bar, so I decided to relax the best way I know how. Yep, you guessed it, I pulled out the grinder and sausage stuffer. Today, Snackin Sticks were on the menu.
I did a quick grid on 4lbs chuck and 1lb pork belly, using a 1/4 plate. After mixing in the cure and a few secret spices, I ran it through the grinder once again using a smaller (3/16) plate. I do not mind having a coarse texture in my brats, but the sticks needed to be a finely ground as possible. In case anyone tries this at home, please keep in mind, that whenever you grind meat, it needs to be as cold as possible. I normally toss the meat in the freezer for 30 minutes before I grind it. So the entire flow would be, pull meat from freezer, grind and spice, back in the freezer then second grind.
My stuffer is a VIVO Vertical that holds 5lbs of mixture. Casings were 17mm LEM Mahogany Collagen Casings. The combination of the two made for quick work. It only took 15 minutes to get the mixture into the casings. Now that all the real work was done, it was time to transfer the links into the smoker. I decided to go with a straight hickory smoke as I wanted a real rustic taste. The total time in the smoker was 4 hours. The first 2 hours @ 180 and then the last two I brought it up to 200 degrees. The most important thing to remember is 165 degrees. That is the temperature where the sticks are safe to eat. After pulling them from the smoker, I trimmed them up and let them bloom for another 3 hours.
All in all, I was very pleased with today’s results….. Today was a good day!