After many attempts at venison snack sticks over the years, producing decent but not always reliable results, I think I have the process nailed.
This batch was 50% deer, 20% domestic pork fat, 20% lean wild hog, and 10% canada goose breast. I used the waltons pepper and garlic seasoning.
Keys to the success of the batch.
-Fresh pork fat. I’ve tried to use some that was maybe a bit frezer burned, and seemed to have some gristle in with it, and that was a mistake. I get the fat from a butcher here locally.
-Cold meat and fat. I think we all know this. But we get impatient. But I let that meat sit in the freezer between grinds, and if I am doing more than about 12 pounds, I pull it out of the freezer in two individual batches.
-I built a propane powered smoker with a separate firebox, and I set chunks of apple or whatever wood in the firebox where they smolder and smoke. I start at 120-130 for an hour. Then 140-150 for an hour. Then target 155 for a 3rd hour.
-I keep a water pan in the smoker, with an automotive sponge in the water. I have had one batch years ago that got dried out on the outside, and the center wouldn’t get up to temp. With the higher humidity from the water and sponge, this won’t ever happen again.
-Rather than finish the sticks in the smoker, I heat up water in a “dedicated for food” 4’x2’x1’metal tank to 170. After 3 hours the sticks were about 130-135 internal temp. I drop them in the tank over a propane burner, and they finish quickly. Like 30 minutes quick. The other advantage is they all seem to get done at the same time. The water is a great expediter and equalizer. Then I dump the hot water from the tank, and fill it with cold water for another 15 minutes or so. Using water works great for me. No more overcooked ends of the sticks. They all look perfect from end to end. Zero fat-out issues.
This process was of course perfected through trial and error, as well as through tips learned here at meatgistics.