TY all, everyone has been very helpful here and is very much appreciated
Hot Link Directions
Howdy! Placing an order and including a pkg of hot link seasoning - https://www.waltonsinc.com/hot-link-unit . This will be a first for me, I haven’t made them before - wondering if you can give me a few tips and answer a few questions.
I’ve made snack sticks before and for those I ground my meat 3 times through the fine plate and mixed well until I had a pretty good emulsion - would you recommend the same for these?
What meat mixture do you recommend?
I was thinking something like 50-60% pork butt (the ones I get tend to be about 25% fat) and 30% lean beef and 10-20% beef suet (adjusted based on pork content) - it seems like you would want a higher fat content than a regular brat… something like 35-45%? I wouldn’t mind doing 100% pork too if they would turn out well - much less expensive per lb.
Carrot fiber needed/benefits?
How much water? 1lb per 10lbs meat?
I plan to use the 30mm red collagen casings ya’ll carry and smoke them. Tips on time and temps would be great.
Once I add cure do I need to let them sit over night? I noticed that there is citric acid in the spice mix - not sure if that has any bearing on it…
Ice water bath after smoking and let bloom?
Anything else I should think about?
Aaaaannnd the wacky place in my brain wants to ask if any of you have pickled your hot links (or other sausages) and what were the results if so - suggestions/do’s/don’ts?
KnucklHed BBQ The Hot-Link unit is a good one so you should be pleased with the results. Let me answer in the order you asked. If you want to skip all this just know that you can follow the same process we have written out for hot dogs at this link, it will be very similar (https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/180/how-to-make-homemade-hot-dogs-recipe)
For grinding I would say grind all of your beef through a 1/8" plate 3 times and all your pork once through a 3/16" plate.
As for meat mixture it is going to depend on what type you are trying to make as Hot Links are made from different types of meat in different areas. In the south and midwest it would traditionally be an all pork product but in Texas it would be an all beef hot link. Plenty of people make them from a mix though and a 50/50 -50/60 is perfectly fine so you plan for what you are going to use is good. Fat content is generally high in hot links so you should be good here.
I’d still use Carrot Fiber as a binder as it is going to help retain moisture through the smoking process. It holds up to 26 times its weight in water, is inexpensive, allergen free and will add to your final yield. That’s why I like it and add it to most things I make. You don’t have to use it though but if you don’t just make sure you have lots of good protein extraction during the mixing phase.
Water usage is a wide range, with hot links we would tell a commercial processor to use 1 lb of water for every 5 lb of meat as with a hot link you want a texture somewhat similar to a bologna. If you want to use your 1 lb to 10 lb that will certainly work as well though.
Smoking schedule would be 120° for 30 minutes with no smoke - 145° for 30 min with smoke and then 175° until they reach 160° internal temp. If you can’t keep it this low then start as low as your smoker will go and then step it up from there till it gets to 175°.
For curing yes you still need to hold them overnight, the Citric Acid in it is not enough to speed the conversion, you could add some encapsulated citric acid and then go right to the smokehouse if you wanted it to have a tang to it.
After smoking yes put them in an ice bath for about 20 minutes or shower them for the same amount of time, the evaporation energy will cool it at about the same rate as an ice bath.
One tips is to keep your beef and pork separate and then mix your beef, water, cure and seasoning in a mix for about 3 minutes and then add your pork and mix for another 4 minutes. Also make sure your plate and knife are sharp and your meat is cold before you start grinding it, if you start noticing your meat getting mushed then put it back in a cooler/freezer for a bit to cool it back down. A good tip for smoking would be to add a water pan to the bottom of your smoker to keep the humidity up.
I have never pickled them but I did find some documentation that gave a basic formulation for the pickle being 2 lb of water, 2 lb of distilled white vinegar, 2 oz of salt and an optional ingredient of 10 drops of red food coloring.
Jonathon thank you sir!