My ears perked right up when I heard Gwen say the words "summer sausage" - much like Elliott's does when AD or I say the word "treat".
Gwen was very kind and shared a sample of her tasty snack along with the recipe. She did tell me there was one ingredient that is kind of hard to find - hickory smoked sea salt. McCormick used to make it but Gwen hadn't been able to find any in the last couple of years. She had, however, located a recipe to make the special salt herself.
I can be pretty tenacious at times and although I would have made the salt if need be, I was determined to find the stuff somewhere.
Long story short, we were on our way to Tulsa so I made a call to my favorite restaurant supply store and was told to try Allen's Gourmet Grocery because they have a salt bar. (I'd never heard of a salt bar, have you?)
The clerk who answered at Allen's told me they only had a couple of containers of smoked sea salt left and they would be glad to hold them for me. When we got to the store they had located a third container so I bought that one too and gave it to Gwen as a little thank you. Notice that the word "hickory" wasn't on the label but no matter - it was smoked sea salt and I thought it would do just fine. And it did.
The original recipe yields 5 pounds but I cut it down to make 3 because I wanted to see how it went over with the family. Silly me. I should have stuck with the original amount but you live and learn.
If you'd like to give it a go you'll need: extra lean ground beef, smoked sea salt, garlic salt, ground pepper, Morton's Tender Quick (Gwen shared some of hers with me - that's it in the baggie), and mustard seed. I went out on a limb and added some Liquid Smoke too because the bottle had that word "hickory" on the label.
One note though - the sea salt did need to be ground up. It was coarse like that in the container on the left. The one on the right shows the salt after I put it through my salt grinder.
Basically the ingredients are mixed altogether and refrigerated for 24 hours, mixing it 4 or 5 times during that time period. Clean hands work really well.
Then form the mixture into logs - I made 3 - and bake them on a broiler pan (or a cooling rack placed over a foil-lined cookie sheet) for 8 hours at 170 degrees. (The original recipe says 150 degrees but my oven doesn't go that low.)
Let the sausage cool completely and it's ready to enjoy.
3 pounds extra lean ground beef
3 teaspoons Morton's Tender Quick
3 teaspoons smoked salt
2 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 1/4 teaspoons mustard seed
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
4 teaspoons Liquid Smoke
Mix altogether and refrigerate for 24 hours, mixing 4 to 5 times during that time. Roll into 3 logs. Place logs on a broiler pan (or you can use a cooling rack that has been put over an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet.) Bake 8 hours at 170 degrees. Cool completely. Slice and enjoy.
Extra rolls can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil and frozen for later use. (I packaged 2 rolls and put them in the freezer only to have to take one out a little later that same afternoon because the 1st roll had been devoured.)
This summer sausage would make a super Super Bowl snack food if you're planning to watch the game - or the commercials - or both.