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Disassembling Bambi: Venison Sausage Part I

April 26th, 2009

A few months ago I found myself in my in-law’s kitchen at eleven on a Thursday night cutting up a deer. In retrospect, I really don’t know how I got myself into that situation. I remember vodka and my father-in-law mentioning that he still had his latest catch in the backyard. I have to take a moment to explain that they do not live in what anybody would consider “the country” or “the sticks.” Rather, they live in New York City. So, as you can imagine, this was not something I had expected to come up in casual conversation. But, five minutes later I was in the kitchen disassembling Bambi.

Back to the present. Well, almost. A few weeks ago, my sister’s Christmas present for me showed up: a brand new meat grinder. I instantly knew that I’d be making venison sausage the next chance I’d get. But first, I’d need supplies.

First, and most perplexing on the list: where would I get the casings? I formulated a very optimistic plan. I’d wander around the butcher’s shops in my neighborhood, asking if they had what I needed. If that didn’t work I’d resort to the Internets. Midweek I stopped by my preferred butcher, Karl Ehmer’s. Every time I walk in there I expect to see Sam behind the counter. I asked if they had any sausage casings, and guess what, they did. But… But not on the retail level. Unfazed, I asked how much a unit of wholesale hog intestine is. Sam explained that a meager $20 would secure me enough material to make a hundred-plus pounds of sausage, and yes, it does freeze well. I wouldn’t have to search out more casings every time I wanted to make some links? Sold! He didn’t have everything I needed, so time to go to the next butcher.

In contrast to Ehmer’s, the next place was much smaller and crowded. An old world Polish butcher shop, it had all sorts of sausages and kielbasas hanging from the ceiling. This looked like my kind of place. When my turn came I requested in a nonchalant voice – as if it were the most natural thing – “a pound of pork fat, please.” Both butchers and a few customers just looked at me.

“Pardon?”

A little more hesitant this time, “about a pound of pork fat? … I’m making venison sausage.”

With that everything started moving again. The guy next to me started asking about venison sausage and sausage making in general. The butcher presented me with a non-descript brown paper bag containing over a pound of delicious white pork fat. I gave him a scant two dollars in return.

Now that I had the more esoteric items out of the way, I just had to go to my local grocer for some basic supplies – my spice rack was a little low – and I’d be on my way.

Author: Josh Categories: Story Tags: