Introduction to Sausage Making – 12 – Exotica – Special Precautions

Lamb, Bison, Venison, etc.

Recipes: Loukanikos (lamb with feta cheese), Gyros

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In these current days of drought and resulting high beef prices, we are fortunate to have lamb imported from New Zealand and Australia. Ground bison meat, “imported from Oklahoma, is available, although at rather high prices ($20/ lb at this writing). No wonder that a friend of mine, getting by on a school teacher’s salary, goes deer hunting regularly to supplement his family’s protein supply.

Today’s lamb is clean, tasty, and relatively easy to work with. Its excellent flavor is a nice alternative to the usual meat. The days of nasty tasting/smelling mutton (those of you who lived through the 1950’s know what I’m talking about) are over. (Try liver instead. Most people can’t stand it, although I, for one, love the unique taste and loud smell of the stuff. ) More power to you. Excellent sausages can be made from lamb as well as organ meats such as liver. I have omitted liver-based sausages, here, because to do them justice requires more advanced techniques. (Get a grinder and a stuffer, first. Then, we’ll go into the topic. There are some incredibly delicious sausages for your enjoyment.)


Trichinosis Warning – If you are a hunter or are friends with one, perhaps you are able to enjoy venison on occasion. …and we have hunter friends who talk fondly of elk, bear, antelope, feral hogs, javelina and other exotic meats. However, be cautious. I bring the topic up in order to issue a warning. If you indulge in any of these, be acutely aware of the risk of contracting trichinosis from wild game meats. Be wary of pork, of course, but be especially wary of wild game.

Here’s how the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, weighs in on the subject of trichinosis:

Prevention & Control – The best way to prevent trichinellosis is to cook meat to safe temperatures. A food thermometer should be used to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat. Do not sample meat until it is cooked. USDA recommends the following for meat preparation.

  • For Whole Cuts of Meat (excluding poultry and wild game) , Cook to at least 145° F (63° C) as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming.
  • For Ground Meat (including wild game, excluding poultry) , Cook to at least 160° F (71° C); ground meats do not require a rest* time.
  • For All Wild Game (whole cuts and ground) , Cook to at least 160° F (71° C).
  • For All Poultry (whole cuts and ground) , Cook to at least 165° F (74° C), and for whole poultry allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming.

*According to USDA, “A ‘rest time’ is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.”

More on: Fight BAC: Safe Food Handling

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap after handling raw meat.
  • Curing (salting), drying, smoking, or microwaving meat alone does not consistently kill infective worms; homemade jerky and sausage were the cause of many cases of trichinellosis reported to CDC in recent years.
  • Freeze pork less than 6 inches thick for 20 days at 5°F (-15°C) to kill any worms.
  • Freezing wild game meats, unlike freezing pork products, may not effectively kill all worms because some worm species that infect wild game animals are freeze-resistant.
  • Clean meat grinders thoroughly after each use.
  • To help prevent Trichinella infection in animal populations, do not allow pigs or wild animals to eat uncooked meat, scraps, or carcasses of any animals, including rats, which may be infected with Trichinella.

Hunters especially- –  beware. Here’s the CDC again:

Trichinellosis Information for Hunters – Trichinellosis, also called trichinosis, is a disease that people can get by eating raw or undercooked meat from animals infected with the microscopic parasite, Trichinella. Persons with trichinellosis may initially experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. These may be followed by fever, muscle pains, facial swelling, and fatigue. Symptoms can last from weeks to months, and can vary in severity from mild to severe. Some persons with Trichinella infection may experience no symptoms at all. Safe and effective prescription drugs are available to treat both Trichinella infection and the symptoms that occur as a result of infection.

Why do hunters need to know about trichinellosis? – People most often associate trichinellosis with the consumption of raw or undercooked pork. However, in recent years, more cases have been associated with eating raw or undercooked wild game meats (such as bear) than eating domestic pork products. Trichinella parasites can infect a wide range of animals worldwide. In the lower 48 states, trichinellosis cases and outbreaks have been caused by the consumption of brown and black bear, wild boar, and cougar; in Alaska, walrus and black, brown, grizzly, and polar bear; and in Hawaii, wild boar. Trichinella has also been detected in many other wild animals that are hunted, including coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. Coyotes and foxes have not yet been implicated in any reported trichinellosis cases or outbreaks, but there has been at least one reported case attributed to the consumption of undercooked raccoon meat.

Animals infected with Trichinella usually don’t appear to be sick, but may show some changes in behavior, such as being less active than what is normally expected. The parasite is microscopic, so it cannot be seen in infected meat with the naked eye. Although Trichinella infection can be prevented in pigs that are raised for pork, there are no feasible methods for reducing Trichinella infection in wild animals.

How can I prevent trichinellosis? Properly handling and cooking meat will prevent trichinellosis. Whole cuts and ground meat from wild game animals should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. A meat thermometer should be used because color is not a good indicator of doneness for game meat. Some methods of cooking, especially microwave cooking (which is not recommended), do not cook meat evenly. Smoking, freezing, or curing game meat does not kill all Trichinella species. Low –temperature smoking will not kill Trichinella, either.

We’ll add a warning that making jerky from game does not kill trichina worms or cysts, either. We don’t cover jerky making in this document, but… just be aware of the danger.

Now, back to the sausage recipes.

…Greeks Bearing Gifts (of Food) – We are fortunate enough to have grandchildren who live in a part of the United States which has a large number of Greek and Lebanese immigrants. We love visiting them, of course.  …and dining out.

It’s funny- –   the Greek restaurateurs all want to turn out Italian food, whereas the Lebanese restaurateurs want to produce Greek food. The restaurant scene in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, is dominated by the Greek community. Seafood, Italian, steaks, fine dining, even the so-called Mexican restaurants are run by Greeks.  …which is strange, because just up the road in Greensboro, and a bit further, in Raleigh, there are Lebanese who make wonderful Greek food. There’s always something Greek on the menu, though, well past the various pasta dishes. If in Charlotte, try Showmars (Greek) for gyros. Try any “Mediterranean Grill” in Raleigh (Lebanese;  we like Tazas) for gyros.  …vertical rotating spit gyros, the best kind. …though we wonder why they don’t call it döner kebap like most of the Greeks, Turks, Lebanese, etc, across Europe, Asia Minor, and the Middle East do.

Which remind me of a Charlotte-based friend’s story. A full-blooded Greek, she majored in chemistry and minored in Spanish at nearby Davidson College, so naturally, when her uncle and his friend “from the old country” decided to open a Mexican restaurant, they came to her for advice.

“Why not call it, ‘Dos Amigos’,” she suggested. They liked it. The restaurant opened, and was quite a success. They decided to expand, so they brought another friend over from Greece. “What should we call the new restaurant?” they asked her.

“What about ‘Tres Amigos’?” she suggested.

“Yeah,” says the uncle, thinking, then nodding his head. “…sounds good.  …so, what does it mean, anyway?”

…So much for authentic Mexican food in North Carolina.  Go for the Greek. Below are a couple of recipes that will tide you over until you can find a place with good moussaka.


Loukaniko –

Cleverly, loukaniko means “sausage” in Greek. The Wikipedians say,

“Loukániko (Greek: λουκάνικο) is the common Greek word for pork sausage, but in English it refers specifically to Greek sausages flavored with orange peel, fennel seed, and various other dried herbs and seeds, and sometimes smoked over aromatic woods. Greek sausages are also often flavored with greens, especially leeks.”

Here’s a loukaniko recipe, originally from Len Poli’s website, that is quite good. I’ve tinkered with it quite a bit so as not to infringe on his copyright, but to be honest, how could someone copyright a national sausage?

  • (2 ½ tsp) ………………………………5 gm (1.4%) salt(non-iodized)
  • ……………………………………………………1 lb (44%) Lamb
  • ……………………………………………………1 lb (44%) Pork butt
  • …………………………80 gm (about 0.2 lbs) (8%) Bacon, pork ends & pieces
  • …………… …………20.00 ml (1.94%) wine (dry red)
  • (1/3 tsp) ……………0.8 gm (0.08%) pepper (black)
  • (3/4 tsp) ……………1.8 gm (0.17%) garlic (fresh)
  • (sparse ½ tsp) ……0.8 gm (0.08%) anise
  • (heaping ½ tsp) …0.8 gm (0.08%) marjoram (dried)
  • (1/8 tsp) …………..0.25 gm (0.02%) cinnamon (ground)
  • (1/8 tsp) ……………0.2 gm (0.02%) allspice (ground)
  • (1 ¼ tsp) ……………4.8 gm (0.47%) orange zest

It is suggested that, if you stuff these, you do the usual cleansing and soaking in water of the hog casings, then soak them in orange juice for 30 minutes.  Instructions[ ignore bracketed items if not grinding or stuffing]:

  • [Cut meat into 1-1/2″ cubes.] Mix garlic/salt/liquid with meat. Chill, rest 1 hr. to overnight.
  • Keep chilled. [Grind meat with 3/8″ plate, optionally fat with 3/16″ plate. Chill.]
  • Add all ingredients. Mix until primary bind. Chill.
  • [Soak hog casings in orange juice for 30 minutes. Stuff into 32-36mm hog casings. ]
  • [Hang to] dry at room temp for 1 hr. DO NOT SMOKE.
  • Refrigerate and consume or vacuum pack and freeze within 3 days.

Gyros –

Back in the days when Alton Brown hosted his Public Television series, “Good Eats,” he had some good, innovative recipes. Here’s one for gyros which is about as good as any. Alternately, you can find pre-mixed spices. (…seems like Knorr produces one, as well as some other brands found in ethnic grocery stores.) We’ll leave this one at two pounds of ground meat, so you can make a decent-sized loaf pan of gyros.

  • (2 tsp)……………………….. 12.0 gm (1.10%) salt (non-iodized)
  • ………………………………………..2 lbs (83.59%) Lamb
  • ……………………………………150 gm (13.78%) onion (white) (one medium)
  • (1 Tbsp) ………………………..7.5 gm (0.69%) garlic (fresh)
  • (1 Tbsp) ………………………..4.5 gm (0.41%) marjoram (dried)
  • (1 Tbsp) ………………………..3.6 gm (0.33%) rosemary
  • (½ tsp) …………………………..1.1 gm (0.10%) pepper (black)

Process the onion in a food processor 10-15 sec. Dump it into a tea towel and squeeze, discarding juice. Add the lamb and all spices to the onion in the food processor. Process into a fine paste, approx. 1 min. Scrape down the sides as needed.

Preheat your oven to 325 degF. Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil. Press the meat paste into the pan, and place it in a water bath (shallow pan full of water). Place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil into the oven, out of the way. Bake for 60 to 75 min. or until IMT 165-170 degF. Drain any juice and fat. Place the pan on cooling rack, place the foil-wrapped brick on the meat, and allow it all to sit 15 min until IMT reaches 175 degF.

Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.

This can be packed and roasted on a spit, but may come apart.

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