HOW TO MAKE CARIBOU BRATS
This past August I had the opportunity to do a hunt I have been looking forward to for a long time. Archery caribou off of the Haul Road in Alaska, is a DIY hunt that is both very achievable and packed with adventure. My hunting partner and I set out for 14 days and on days 8 and 9 we were able to take two beautiful representations of caribou.
Today we are going to be turning some of that caribou into bratwurst sausage. Bratwurst or often called brats are very easy to make and are a great intro into sausage making.
As a hunter I love sharing wild game with family and friends. I have found that for many people processed game meat like sausages are more acceptable as it is merely meat in a form they are used to seeing in the grocery store. Making sausage can be intimidating and I know a lot of hunters who cut their own meat but still take it in to have sausage made. For me sausage making is one of the most rewarding parts of harvest and having my own wild game supply.
Let's dive in, for these Caribou Brats we are using:
- MEAT! 1.5 HP grinder
- MEAT! 15 LB sausage stuffer
- MEAT! tote
- 15 lbs caribou meat
- 5 lbs pork fat
- Bratwurst seasoning from Walton's Supply
- 32mm Cologne casing
You will read all kinds of things on the internet about what the perfect ratio of meat to fat is but honestly I wouldn't worry about it too much. For me I have found that I like this ratio. If you (or the family) is not accustomed to game meat taste then you might go with more pork. You could also consider using a Pork shoulder or "Boston Butt". This is a fatty cut adding the pork meat will bring down the gamey taste of your end product. For this you could go up to 40%-50% pork product. Again this is off personal taste. For my family 25% is a good amount that adds to the meat while keeping it true to its original taste.
Let the Brats Begin!
- Once we have everything ready to go we are going to start my coarse grind on the meat.
Then we are going to run our pork fat through the coarse grind as well. PRO Tip, you are going to want to keep your fat as close to frozen as you can. The colder the better.
- Once we have both our meat and our fat coarse ground separately we can now go ahead and mix them together in our MEAT! tote.
- At this point we can go ahead and mix in our Blue Ribbon Seasoning . For this small batch we are just going to mix this by hand. (If we were doing a bigger batch I would recommend using the MEAT! Mixer.) The goal here is to mix until the seasoning as well as the meat to fat looks evenly dispersed. PRO Tip: Mixing in 6-10 ounces of water will help make a very moist end product as well as help the seasoning bind to the meat.
- Now it is time to run the meat through our grinder one more time. This time we are going to switch out the grate with the machine to a smaller hole grinder plate.
- Our product is now ready to go into the casing. We are now going to use the MEAT! 15 lb Sausage Stuffer
- Fill your sausage stuffer with meat, ensuring to not have any air pockets. Then run the meat out the fill tube until it reaches the end so as not to create any air pockets in the tube.
- Slide your casing over the tube on the sausage stuffer and feed it into the casing slowly with just a little bit of back pressure. PRO Tip: Leave the amount of meat in the casing fairly loose for your first time. You will need the room to create links. try and keep the consistency about like a rare steak with dressing with your fingers
As you fill your casings I recommend creating your links every 2-3 feet of sausage as you go until you get the hang of how tight to fill your casings this will help with not over filling too much and causing a burst.
- To create your links, pinch the meat about every 6 inches and twist the section creating the single brat. Alternate back and forth as you work down the string so as to not unravel the previous.
- Once the brats are made I like to use a skewer and poke a number of holes in each one, which will help them cook more evenly. Another very important step is to make sure you put the brats back in the fridge for 12-24 hours. I used to never do this and learned this tip from an old butcher friend. This allows the meat to bind to the casing so you don't get that casing separation in the cooking/ cutting process.
Note on Casing Types and Size:
In this video I am using cologne casings, in truth I personally prefer natural casings. Having said that, I recommend you practice or start with cologne as it is far more friendly to work with and will help you get the idea without so much frustration.
I am also using a 32mm casing, this is on the larger size and most of your store bought brats are going to be either 28mm or 30mm. Personally I like the 32mm as it feels like a premium product.
- Cody Rich, The Rich Outdoors