Smoked Snack Stick Recipes
Snack sticks can be made from a variety of ground meats, including pork, beef, poultry and sometimes venison, then stuffed into natural or synthetic casings. Smoked and cooked snack sticks are fully cooked and ready to eat, hot or cold.
The procedure for making snack sticks at home is much the same as making any other smoke cooked sausage. Distinctions would be the size of the casing and fresh “lean” meat that tastes and smells as good as it looks––meat that you could grind and eat raw if you had a mind to. Fresh beef fat is also necessary to make the very best snack sticks, as well as special herbs and spices, all kneaded into a unique batter and stuffed into the confines of a natural or sythectic casing.
Either one makes a great sausage stick but you need to double check your equipment to made certain you have a sausage spout that will fit the smaller-size collagen casings. While a natural sheep casing does stretch a bit in a pinch, a collagen casing is extremely rigid with virtually zero give and take. You would have to manually unravel the casing to make it fit an oversize sausage funnel.
Whether you use a natural or collagen casing depends on your individual preference, as each casing type has it’s own attributes. Case in point, I’m a staunch believer that natural casings have a more tender bite than their collagen counterparts. Casing manufacturers, on the other hand, will claim that their latest generation of collagen casings have the optimum bite. Which casing type to use is your decision to make.
For the best results, start with fresh lean meat. A 85/15% lean-to-fat ratio is what I strive for, although some sausage makers go as high as 80/20%. Commercial sausage kitchens are likely to have more fat in their meat sticks in order to turn a profit. Cuts from the hind leg, full round, top round, outside round, eye of the round, and the knuckle are well suited for making lean sausage sticks. The front half of the steer, including the chuck, blade,neck, clod and arm can also be used to make beef sausage sticks, but it may be necessary to remove the outer layer of fat in order to achieve a targeted 88/12% lean-to-fat ratio. Obtaining this goal is very often, a by guess and by gosh situation, unless you happen to own a bazillion dollar HFT-2000 Fat Analyzer. Very few of us do!
Many of the home sausage makers I know, trim away as much fat as possible from the meat block, and weigh both portions separately to achieve the correct percentages of lean to fat. If they make 5 pounds of sausage sticks and the recipe calls for a 85/15 ratio of lean to fat, they weigh out 8 1/2 lbs. (3.9 kg) of lean meat and 1 1/2 lbs. (680 g) of beef fat. Or they weigh out xx lbs. of lean meat and xx lbs. of beef fat for a 25 pound batch.
Sausage sticks should have enough fat to hold the ingredients together, but it must also have plenty of flesh in the mixture, so that the consumer knows that he and/or she is eating meat. Each time you put together a batch of sausage sticks, experiment with the lean-to-fat ratio until you find the leanness that suits your tastes. Then write it down so that you have it on record.