While venison burgers without any beef is challenging, even more difficult is making venison sausage without any pork. This is especially tough when you consider how most make their “deer” brats and sausage, which is cutting it with 50% pork.
When I set out on making it a year without cooking with any beef or pork, I figured it would mean a year without sausage, that was until I got in contact with Chef Derek St. Romain of Shoot 2 Grill.
Chef Derek’s favorite dishes are wild game, which dates back to his time spent at Duke University working in the Diet and Fitness Center. There, he helped craft recipes for the school’s sports programs, including ones that featured no-pork venison sausage.
“Venison is such a pure, lean meat, that I always had a hard time putting fat in it,” he told me over the phone.
Instead, Chef Derek substitutes a number of other things for pork, which gives deer sausage much of its moisture, binding and flavor. The main ingredient is fruits and vegetables, which when finely chopped and cooked, adds plenty of moisture and flavor to venison. Not quite enough, though, as Chef Derek discovered. To help with moisture, and to take care of the binding, a generous portion of dry milk powder brings the whole recipe together.
For the fruits and vegetables part, you are free to get creative. If you’re looking for a sweet breakfast sausage, go with apples and pineapples. For a hotter breakfast sausage, go with peppers. For a bolder breakfast sausage, go with fennel and onions.
You’ll likely want a food processor, though, as the fruits and vegetables should be nearly pureed. It takes a lot, too, with your sausage weight being 75% deer and 25% veggie mix. If cleaning and cutting all those fruits and veggies seems like too daunting of a task, you can always opt for something like unsweetened apple sauce, too. This would help with moisture, but not overpower your sausage with sweet flavor to the point where you couldn’t have flavor freedom.
This can take some tinkering to get it just right. If you’re not confident with your no-pork deer sausage just yet, mix it in with something to mend tastes, like an omelet, egg bake, or biscuits and gravy.
Biscuits and gravy is one of the great summer breakfasts. It takes few ingredients, and can be made ahead of time and reheated over a campfire or on a stovetop. Plus, every amateur cook should have a good pepper gravy in their arsenal, as it’s one of the few dishes that can flawlessly transition from being on biscuits for breakfast, chicken fried steak for lunch and mashed potatoes for dinner.
3.75 lbs of ground venison
1.25 lbs of finely chopped fruits and vegetables
1.25 cups dry powdered milk
3 ounces cold water
2 tbs salt
1 tsp white pepper
1.5 tsp ground sage
1.5 tsp ground thyme
1.5 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
.25 tsp red pepper flakes
Cook your vegetables at a simmer for 15 minutes in a sauce pan. Set aside to cool.
Add all ingredients together and mix very well.
If making ground breakfast sausage, it’s fine on its own. If making breakfast sausage patties, add 1 egg and 1/8 cup breadcrumbs per lb of meat.
Pepper Gravy Ingredients
5 tbs butter
5 tbs flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a shallow sauce pan.
Add flour and mix well so that it doesn’t clump.
Add milk a little at a time and mix well. Generously add salt and pepper during this step.
Once all the milk is added, stir over high heat until you reach the desired consistency.