I go through ups and downs of being completely obsessed with something one month and then tossing it to the side the next. Cheese used to be my nightly snack, especially Tillamook pepper jack cheese, but I’ve laid off of the cheese lately. This month? I’m definitely craving jerky. I posted my sliced venison jerky with fish sauce a bit ago and since then went straight into obsessing over venison snack sticks.
Instead of doing 10+ pounds at a time, I usually stick with 5 pounds or less when I’m testing a recipe. That way, I have enough for everyone to munch on throughout the week, but not an overabundance of something that perhaps just isn’t good enough to hand out, just yet.
When you get the recipe right, that’s when you double-up on the meat and make enough to freeze for later.
Venison Snack Sticks are Perfect for Outdoor Adventuring
Hunting? Fishing? Hiking? Backpacking? Trekking? These venison snack sticks are the perfect treat to pack for any of your outdoor adventures. They pack a protein punch that is perfect for keeping your energy up, and the cure helps preserve them so you don’t have to worry about refrigeration if you do an overnight camping or backpacking trip.
If we’re planning on heading to the woods overnight, these venison snack sticks would be the first thing I’d put together for our trip.
If you don’t have a smoker, no worries, just add a teaspoon of liquid smoke into the meat mix and put the sticks in the oven for the same temperature and time that I mention it should go on the smoker.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can just use your oven to do that part too. Adjust the temperature to 160℉ and let the venison snack sticks rest in the oven for the two hours that I mention having them in the dehydrator.
A lot of recipes call for an 80/20 meat to fat ratio, but I find that a 70/30 ratio makes these venison snack sticks come out tastier and not as dry. You can play with different ratios to find what you like best. For the fat, we usually use bacon.
You don’t have to use the cure, but it helps control microbial growth, especially when cooking anything between the temperature danger zone of 40℉ and 140℉. The cure also helps with keeping the venison snack sticks shelf-stable for overnight backpacking trips.
We always have hatch green chilis in the freezer. When the fall comes around and it’s time to get more, we’ll dehydrate any that we had from the previous year and crush them up to use as a spice on jerky, meats and soups. If you don’t have access to green chilis, you can also just order the dried mix on Amazon. We prefer hatch green chili, but really any green chili powder will work for this recipe. Powdered green chili is the secret ingredient in an amazing green chili stew. Try it on eggs too, you won’t be disappointed.
Venison Snack Sticks
- 5 lbs Venison ground
- 1.5 lbs Bacon ground
- 1 cup High-Temp Cheddar Cheese to be added last
- 2 tbls Kosher Salt
- 2 tbls Paprika
- 1 tbls Anise ground
- 1 tbls Black Pepper ground
- 1 tbls Fennel ground
- 1 tbls Green Chilis dried, ground
- 1 tbls Crushed Red Pepper
- 1 tbls Garlic Powder
- 1 tbls Mustard Powder
- 1 tbls Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Cure #1 per 5 pounds of meat use 1 tsp cure
- 3/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 3/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 cup Cold Water
- Mix together the dry ingredients, and form well in center.
- Pour in wet ingredients and stir to incorporate.
- Put the already ground venison and bacon in a large bowl, and pour the spice mix over the meat. Hand mix the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Run mix through a grinder once. This is to help ensure the spices and the meat are mixed well. If you don't have a grinder for this step, just make sure you mixed the spices and meat together enough to avoid "pockets" of areas with and without spice.
- Cover snack stick mix and let rest in refrigerator overnight to "bloom."
- The next day, put your sausage stuffing parts in the freezer for about an hour to get ice cold.
- While the sausage stuffing parts are getting cold, pull the snack stick mix out of the refrigertor and mix in 1 cup of high temp cheddar cheese.
- Add snack stick mix to sausage stuffer cavity that can hold at least 5 pounds of meat.
- Assemble sausage stuffer and add 17mm mahogany collagen casings to a 16mm nozzle or smaller. You don't need to soak mahogany casings. To put casings on nozzle, pull the end a bit to loosen it from the rest of the casing and push it on the nozzle. Keep unraveling the casing while pushing it on the nozzle. Leave 3 inches of casing hanging off the end of the nozzle.
- Push a little of the snack stick mix into the 3 inch end hanging off to allow air to release. Tie off end.
- Continue to fill casings with snack stick mix and regulate so they are full, but not so full they rupture. You can always fill full, pull off of nozzle, and pack the casings fuller by squeezing from the open end down to the tied end. If you are left with more empty casing after squeezing, put the casing back on the nozzle and fill until 2 inches is left on the end. Tie off end.
- Heat your smoker to cook the jerky at an internal temperature of 110℉ for 1 hour. If your smoker allows for it, don't use smoke during the first hour to help the casings set. The casings can be set directly on the smoker rack or hung over a pole. I like to insert a digital themometer into the end of two sections to monitor the temperature as it smokes and dries.
- Start smoking hickory and increase the temperature so that the internal temperature reaches 140℉. Smoke for 2 hours. Continue to monitor temperature to ensure it doesn't increase too much.
- Transfer the snack sticks to a preheated dehydrator to 160℉. Dehydrate snack sticks for 2 hours. Do not let snack sticks internal temperature rise above 160℉.
- Fill you sink with ice water, and then add snack sticks to ice water bath for 10 minutes.
- Pull out of water and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow them to dry off.
- Cut to desired length, vacuum seal, and freeze what you won't be eating right away.