I hate cooking roast venison (or even beef for that matter). As a roast in the oven that is. I always overcook them. Or they end up as flavorless blobs of meat. I know, that’s why gravy was invented. It’s really a matter of more practice, but you know how it goes – if something doesn’t come easy, you resist it and fall back to what you KNOW will work (ie: can do easily and not have to actually LEARN). I’ve been hearing more and more about cooking using a method called “sous vide”. It seemed to be a promising way to consistently cook a steak or roast to the perfect temperature. Easily. SIGN. ME. UP.
While I enjoy some pan fried venison liver and onions, I also like variety. And if that variety involves sandwiches of some sort, well, sign me up! This recipe for homemade venison liverwurst may not be for everyone, but it does hit the mark when comparing it to a commercially made liverwurst.
Now, I’ll give you two warnings up front:
- This is one of the messiest venison recipes I make. It’s not messy in that your kitchen will look like a bomb went off, but you will essentially be making a meat paste. Wear some disposable gloves and have extras. And keep a spatula handy for scraping out bowls.
- While this is not a complicated recipe by any means, making it will be a challenge if you don’t have some specialized tools. You’ll want a meat grinder, a food processor, and a sausage stuffer.
To get the right consistency, the meat needs to be processed multiple times. If you have a food processor, but no grinder, you can get by as long as you buy some ground pork to start with. If you have a grinder but no food processor, you could grind several times with a fine blade, but the pastier this gets, the harder it is to put through the grinder.
As for the sausage stuffer, I recommend a stand alone compression style stuffer. Personally, I use a LEM 5 lb vertical stuffer. The gears are all metal (beware, some stuffers come with plastic gears), and 5 lbs is the perfect size for me. I avoid making any batches of sausage more than ten pounds – that’s just my personal limit. There’s only so much sausage I’ll eat in a given year. And when I run out, I can always make more. I usually stay closer to five pounds for any one recipe I do, and this recipe falls under that.
If you don’t have a dedicated sausage stuffer, but have a jerky gun, that would work in a pinch. Stuffing the paste in the small chamber will be a pain, but you can work with it. If you only have a grinder attachment sausage stuffer, you can use that as well, but because the paste gets more challenging to grind, trying to run it through the worm gear of the grinder stuffer will be just as challenging.
Now, just by the fact that you got here looking for a venison liverwurst recipe, I know I haven’t scared you away with any of these warnings. Plus, odds are, if you are still reading, you already have all the tools listed above. So, here’s how you do it:
Well, you know we’re using the liver. You’ll want to do some soaking on it after you dress the deer, like I laid out here. Making liverwurst is not one of my top priorities when I get home with a deer, I like to save it for a boring winter day, so I’ll use frozen liver. When I freeze the liver, I freeze it in approximately 1/3 pound packages of strips sliced to about 1/4 inch thick.
- 1 lb of diced deer liver
- 1.5 lbs of ground pork
- 1 small to medium onion, grated
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
I will usually start with a whole pork shoulder, so I’ll cut it all up into cubes and run it through the grinder once. Then I’ll take my pound and a half from that. Put it in a bowl with the diced liver and all the other ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Run this mixture through the grinder one more time with a fine blade. It isn’t pretty. Tell the faint of heart to look away should they wander into the kitchen.
Chill for about 30 minutes or so. As the mixture warms, it gets harder to work with. Plus this lets the flavors infuse for a little while.
Taking one third to one half of the mixture at a time, run it through the food processor till it get’s a nice creamy texture. The whole batch may fit in your processor, but most likely it will be too much all at once for your processor to handle smoothly. Pour/scrape it from the processor right into the sausage stuffer and stir it all together. Change your gloves. Probably for the fifth time. From here on in, it’ll be cleaner, I promise. Well, till you need to wash everything that is..
Stuff the mixture into a 2 1/2 inch casing of your choice. I always have mahogany casings on hand for summer sausage, and they work great for liverwurst too. The 20″ x 2 1/2″ will hold close to 3 lbs of meat, so this batch should fit perfectly in one casing. Tie off the end tightly enough to keep good form, but keep in mind you’ll need to jam a thermometer in there to check the temperature as it cooks.
In a pan or pot big enough to hold the stuffed casing (I use a roasting pan, it’s the perfect length, and since it’s oblong, there isn’t a lot of excess water), poach the liverwurst till the internal temperature reaches 160. You want to keep the water from boiling. Make it barely simmer and you should be good. It will take about an hour for the meat to hit 160, but that of course will vary depending on how you manage the simmer.
When it’s done, pull it from the water and let it cool to room temperature. If you used a mahogany casing, you can run it under cold water – this will clean the casing off, and help it cool down faster. Cut into lengths, and share or freeze the extra…
A meat/food slicer is one of those tools that can be hard to justify purchasing. If you are just starting out hunting, there are way more important things you should be spending your money on, namely the gear you will be using in the field. But after a few years, your gear needs tend to wind down (unless you are one of those guys that get’s a new bow/gun/latest gadget every year!), and you can start to invest in your kitchen gear.
A meat slicer was down on my list processing appliances. Dehydrator. Grinder. Sausage stuffer. Jerky gun. Then, I was ready for a slicer. I made a pretty mean summer sausage, but I wanted sandwich slices. THIN SLICES. I was getting better at making jerky, but it’s tough to get consistent cuts with just a knife. A slicer solves all these problems.
I went with a middle of the road slicer, the Chef’s Choice 610 model, and it has served me well. It’s still available, but there is a newer version, the 609, which is currently a bit cheaper, as well as a premium model, the 615 which seems more comparable to the 610.
Here’s my YouTube video on the assembly and maintenance of the 610:
The newer model (609) has a cut away where the meat will fall. I haven’t tried it myself – I kind of like how the 610 falls onto a tray – keeps my counter somewhat clean. The 615 appears to be much closer in design to the 610. Either way, I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them. The price points are close enough where none of them will break the bank, and you can pick based on your personal preference.
I’ve put my 610 through regular use for 3 years now, and it still works great. It’s not a commercial slicer, so I don’t think it would hold up under daily use. But I use mine at least once a month and so far it has done the job and held up great. As far as maintenance goes, I recommend some food grade silicone spray for the blade, and some food grade petroleum jelly for the contact points and the blade drive gear. A little dab will do it.
They come with a serrated blade, which has worked fine for me. There is a non-serrated blade you can get as well – my understanding is you can get finer (thinner) cuts with it on meat that may tend to shred on the serrated blade. An upgrade I may be adding this year!
Bottom line, a slicer is one of those “nice to have” kitchen tools. Mine has paid for itself just in lunch meat alone – we get whole chicken, turkey, or ham at a fraction of the cost of deli counter prices, and I slice it myself. Package it for what you use weekly, storing the extra in the freezer, and you can go months before needing to buy more. Being able to have more processing options for my venison is just a bonus.
You can read more about it here, or here’s what you’ll need from Amazon: