Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Sunday Project Day: Deer Bologna

There's almost nothing I enjoy more than a project Sunday.  Working at home preparing a new recipe, or an old trustworthy recipe.  Getting some food processed to be put up for use later on when you can no longer buy the product fresh.

Of all the recipes I've worked on over the years I'd have to say I'm most proud of the Deer Bologna recipe I'm currently using.  This is a sweet bologna with a bit of smoke flavor that I make from a 50/50 mix of venison and pork.  It's reminiscent of Hilshire Farms Summer Sausage that many of us enjoy around Christmas, but the knowledge of the hunt that resulted in this meat makes the product that much more enjoyable.

The multi-day process usually begins by placing the meat to thaw in the refrigerator the Tuesday or Wednesday prior to processing.  I like to grind my own pork, because the plane ground pork available in the stores is simply too lean for my taste.  I always choose a pork butt, with a nice cap of fat on the the top for this recipe. 

Usually by about Saturday morning I'm ready to start the next step: grinding. After boning out the meat, cubing it, and passing it once through the meat grinder I will weigh out my pork.  Since I'm going for a 50/50 blend with the venison, I remove any pork in excess of the amount of venison I've got thawing.  I like to season this excess pork and make breakfast sausage patties for the next couple days.

The equal parts of pork and venison can now be brought together, and your cure will need to be added.  I use Morton's Tenderquick, at a ratio of 1 tbsp per pound of meat.  If you have used, or have access to "pink salt" or straight sodium nitrate, you'll want to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on proportioning.  Once mixed thoroughly the entire mixture is put up in the fridge for at least 12 hours, I typically will go closer to 18. 

If you've never used these curing agents, don't fret.  I was apprehensive at first as well, but after 10 years of honing this recipe I'm much more comfortable with the process.  As to what they do, they kill off the harmful bacteria, and work to make the meat last longer.  In the end this will still be a cooked product that has been raised to 165 degrees, but it will be a more stable product in the refrigerator.  Think of the difference between keeping a pound of salami in the frig, next to a pound of steak.  They're both at a safe temperature, but the steak will spoil much faster.

After the cure has had time to work, it's time to add the remaining ingredients (see recipe below).  I've changed this list  up several times, and I'd encourage you to do the same.  In my opinion the sugars, and the liquid smoke are two of the keys and I rarely deviate from their proportions. 

The mixture is then stuffed into casings, and I like to give the meat time to rest here as well.  Two things happen:  First the seasonings have time to meld and work well together. Second the pork fat softens the casings making them more supple during the cooking process.

Now into the oven.  If you've done any smoking or roasting you know low and slow is where it's at.  This recipe is no different.  200 degrees for about 5 hours is typical, but I will place a probe thermometer in the meat after about 3 hours.  I also like to rotate the meat so that any liquid created inside the casing doesn't settle to the bottom.  After baking I'll allow the meat to cool in the refrigerator for a day or two, then I'll peel the casings, and slice into disks.  Once sealed into food saver bags they will last for months in the freezer.

My favorite serving is with a nice cheese, like a smoked Gouda, or cheddar.  I've made sandwiches with it, and even cubed it and eaten it with a sweet n sour dip.

Happy cooking,
Scott M

Scott Messenger's Deer Bologna

*Ingredients may be scaled up or down based on your batch size

5    lbs of ground venison
5    lbs of ground pork butt (all fat included)
10  tbsp of Morton's Tenderquick
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c corn syrup
4    tbsp of liquid smoke
4    tbsp minced garlic
3    tbsp of ground black pepper
2    tbsp onion powder
1    tbsp ground mustard
1    tbsp Accent flavor enhancer
1    tsp cayenne
1    c beer

Cube and grind the pork butt, including all the fat, and mix with ground venison.  Add 1/3 of Tenderquick, mix thoroughly, repeat for each 1/3.

Refrigerate mixture 12-18 hrs

Mix all remaining ingredients thoroughly until completely incorporated in the entire volume of meat.

Stuff the meat into fibrous casings and tie off ends hog rings.  Both of these are typically found year-round at many hunting stores.

Allow stuffed casings to rest in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Bake at 200 degrees on a cookie sheet for 4 hours, or until internal temp reaches 165.  Rotate the logs every hour, to avoid a dark streak on the bottom where juices settled.

Once safe internal temp is reached remove from oven, allow to cool slightly on the counter, then place in the refrigerator overnight to cool completely.

Remove casings, slice into lunch meat style rounds, or leave in longer logs.  Vacuum seal and freeze.


  1. Hi, Scott. How many casings are needed for this recipe? Thanks!

  2. Thanks for reading!

    When I make these in casings one batch fills 2 - 2 1/2 casings depending on how tight you're able to pack them. Now these are the Red Fiberous Casings. I've found them at any decent outdoors shop (Cabela's, Gander Mountain, etc…).

    Recently I've actually made them just in a loaf pan. Same recipe and method. Turns out looking a bit like a Dutch Loaf or Old Fashioned Loaf, if you've seen those at a deli.

    Best of luck, and thanks for reading!
    Scott M

  3. Scott, I cut this down for 4#ground venison mixed at butcher with 20% beef fat. Ended up very salty, and sticky from corn syrup. I found if I sliced it and let it sit for a day or two after cooling it was better. Any suggestions?

    1. Thanks for reading.
      The recipe is based on 10 pounds of meat total so if you cut back on the meat did you also cut down all the other ingredients? You'll need to cut back on the spices. This applies to all the spices on the list. If you cut the meat back to just 4 pounds that's decreasing to meat by 60%. You can decrease the spices by 60%, but for the sake of sanity, next attempt I would suggest cutting the meat in half (5 lbs). Then all the ingredients can be cut in half as well. Best of luck and thanks for trying the recipe.
      Scott M

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