This meal will kick deer season off with a bang
While it’s still very hot and humid, fall and hunting seasons are upon us. The calendar still shows several weeks of summer left, and Labor Day isn’t far off, with fall officially beginning a few weeks after that.
But the Old Farmer’s Almanac says that fall begins meteorologically on Sept 1. This corresponds much more closely to when fall begins in the minds of sportsmen.
Many years, the September recipe in this column has featured doves, but there weren’t any in the freezer this year. However, there was venison in the freezer, and with so many sportsmen looking forward to deer season and ready to punch their tags, it seemed like a worthy substitute.
This is a special recipe that features venison sausage prepared in a unique and fun way. It is done outside on the grill and makes a reasonably good substitute for the feast usually served on the opening day of dove season. It’s also good for filling up young hunters after their first day on a deer stand and works equally well under large trees or on the porch of a hunting lodge or on your patio or deck at home.
Venison sausage on a stick
This is a fun recipe any time, but I like it as a break from fish just as deer season is about to begin. Besides, it’s a great time to polish off the remaining venison that’s left in your freezer from last year. Hopefully, you’ve been eating a lot of fresh fish all summer, and this is a nice change. It’s a win-win meal, as it tastes good and helps make space for this year’s venison.
I don’t have plain venison burger in my freezer. Call it all sausage if you like, but I have some with a few mild spices blended in for burgers, chili, meatloaf and such, and then I have some that really is sausage and is blended with hotter sausage spices for getting a day going right or for special times. I keep my burger and sausage loose ground rather than in links, as it is easier to mix or use small amounts. If you have link venison sausage, you can break the casing and reform it or simply put a skewer in it.
This recipe is one of those special times to use venison sausage. If you only have venison burger, you can spice it up with some cayenne pepper, chopped jalapenos, sage and more in one of many mixtures. This should have a little flavor explosion in your mouth and not merely be burger. Make it mild or wild to suit your personal tastes, but kick it up at least one notch.
I don’t have a jerky shooter, which you can pack with the sausage mix and squeeze the handle to form links. This uses a plastic drinking water bottle to hold and form the sausage, with a slightly smaller-diameter, half-size water bottle as a pusher. Many enterprising folks use similar arrangements to form burger or sausage links, but they typically use plastic soft-drink bottles with a smaller opening, which makes a smaller link. I prefer a larger link and looked for a while until I found a Vitamin Water bottle with a larger neck and opening and an 8-ounce water bottle that would barely slide through it once the flat end was removed.
Once you make the first link, you’ll be surprised how easy it is. Just load the larger bottle with the sausage mixture — the egg and bread crumbs help it bond together — insert a skewer and push. Be careful handling the skewers; they get hot and can burn. You’ll have to handle metal skewers with a pot holder or glove.
For this particular version, I sliced a bell pepper and sweet onion to sauté on the grill and add to the mixture on a brat bun. Sometimes bell peppers can be strong, and the Cavender’s seasoning helps tone this down.
I believe if you try this once, you’ll have it again. It’s a fun meal that is easy to prepare and tastes great. That makes it just right for serving on the patio or deck on a cool September evening. Enjoy!
1 pound ground venison sausage
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 large bell pepper
1 large sweet onion
Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning
1 pack bratwurst buns
Sweet and spicy brown mustard
Buttery flavor, non-stick cooking spray
Jerky shooter or plastic bottle for forming sausage links.
Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Slice the bell pepper and onion. Put the onion and pepper slices in a large pan, spray with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with Cavender’s.
Mix the venison sausage, egg and bread crumbs. Load the sausage mixture into a jerky shooter or bottle. Insert a skewer into the bottle though the neck opening and push it through the sausage until about 1/4-inch is protruding. Push the smaller bottle through larger bottle to form sausage dog on skewer. Repeat until all the sausage is formed into sausage links.
Spray a grill vegetable tray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat the grill to medium. Place the sausage links around the perimeter of the vegetable tray. Place the onion and pepper slices in the middle of the vegetable tray. Keep a close watch for hot spots and cook the sausage dogs until done.
Stir the onion and pepper slices occasionally while the sausage is cooking. Cook the sausage and vegetables for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning as needed. This will vary with the heat of the grill. The sausage and vegetables should be done at approximately the same time. Remove the sausage and vegetables from the grill and serve while warm.
The brat buns can be warmed on the grill or not — to personal preference. Serve the sausage links on the brat buns, with peppers, onions and sweet and spicy brown mustard. This can be served with a variety of vegetables. Corn on the cob and a fresh green salad or salad wedge are two good ways. Chocolate custard or a slice of Key Lime pie are excellent options for dessert.