Venison bologna is one of those awesome treats you won’t find everywhere, so when you do come across it, savor every bit of it. Or, you could make some right from the comfort of your home kitchen. Nothing beats good ol’ homemade deer bologna.
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For starters, you get to pick which seasoning and spices to use and which to exclude. You’re in full control of how well this lean red meat turns out, and this is one bologna you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s not a fast dish though it is a delicious and nutritious one, and at the end of the day, it’ll be worth it. That is, only if you get the meat, seasonings, and smoking done right.
What’s The Big Difference Between Venison Bologna And Deer Bologna?
Some people consider venison bologna to be the fancier term for deer bologna. And while that’s definitely true–especially when you compare both words out loud–there is sometimes a variation in how each term is used.
If you’re feeling a tad bit guilty saying you love eating deer meat because of Bambi, you can stick to saying “venison.” This bologna is ground deer meat that’s stuffed into deer bologna casings after being mixed with bologna seasonings and later smoked.
The word “venison” has its roots in Latin. It is argued that the Latin root word is either venatio, which means hunting game, or venari, which means to hunt or pursue. In old usage, “venison” referred to the meat of any hunting game. If you had to hunt the animal down, the meat would be referred to as venison. It was an ultra-lean red meat with a tough consistency.
This is no longer the case.
The word has now taken a narrower meaning. It now specifically refers to the meat of a deer or an antelope. So, your sweet deer bologna is venison bologna but not necessarily the meat of a deer–it could be an antelope. Not to worry though, because antelope bologna isn’t as common as that from a deer. That means you can always use “venison” to refer to deer meat but if you’re not sure where it came from and want to be safe, just ask if it’s deer or antelope.
Before Getting Started On Your Recipe!
You already know that venison is synonymous with deer. But apart from that, there are a few things to know about what kind of venison to cook with.
The quality of the outcome always starts with the quality of the meat itself. When it comes to the species of deer, the most common options you’ll see are whitetail, fallow, sika and axis deer. These varieties all taste alike, though each has its own distinct taste. I myself haven’t tried all the options, but from personal experience, I’d say sika deer is a good place to start.
Now that you know what type of deer to purchase, the next thing to have in mind is the age of the venison which the meat came from and the environment the animal lived in. The taste of your homemade deer bologna depends on the combination of these factors: age, environment, and species.
Venison is a lean meat and as such can easily end up tough. The meat of younger animals is usually juicier and more tender than that of older animals. But with the right seasonings and smoking skill, the meat of older animals can be tenderized and equally tasty.
In terms of environment, it is important to identify whether the animal was farm-bred or caught in the wild. While a farm bred animal’s meat will be more tender and less tough than the meat of deer caught in the wild, the meat of wild or hunted deer has a richer and gamier flavor which farm-bred ones lack.
If you’re up for the gamey flavor, then by all means look for meat sourced by hunters, but if you’re not a fan of the gamey flavor, then you’d probably be better off buying from farmers. Additionally, some venison lovers suggest that early winter venison tastes better than venison from other seasons.
Another thing to consider is your choice of seasonings and whether or not you plan to use a smoker (yes, you can make deer bologna without a smoker). Thankfully, the recipe below has you covered on this and every other detail.
Deer Bologna Recipe
Nothing beats a recipe that yields the perfect balance of flavors coming from just the right blend of deer bologna seasoning and spices. You’ll need the following ingredients for this easy deer bologna recipe:
- 5 lbs of ground venison – use a food processor for a fine texture
- ⅓ cup of Morton Tender Quick – curing mixture
- 1 tbsp of Accent
- 1 tbsp of black pepper or cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp ground mustard
- ½ tbsp of onion powder
- ½ tbsp of mace
- ½ tbsp garlic powder or garlic smoke
- ½ tbsp ground red pepper. You can add more if you like spicy.
- 6 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- ½ cup molasses syrup or king syrup
- Chili powder for extra spicy kick
- Venison casings
- In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except the liquid smoke and ground venison. Stir well by hand.
- Spread out the ground venison in a large mixing tub. Then add in the spice mixture evenly to the meat.
- Next, add in the liquid smoke and combine thoroughly by hand. Knead until the meat is fully combined with the spice mixture and liquid smoke.
- Place the spiced meat mixture into a container and cover. If you don’t have a container with a lid available, use a regular container and cover it with saran wrap. Note: Container should be plastic or glass.
- Leave the container in the refrigerator for an ideal time of 24 hours. You can take it out a bit earlier if you’re in a hurry, as long as it is refrigerated for a minimum of 8 hours.
- Using a sausage stuffer or funnel, stuff the meat tightly into the casing. Ensure that no air pockets develop in the casing. If you see some, pinch them out before tying the open end of the casing (see notes on how to prepare your casings).
- Cook the stuffed casings. You can choose to boil or bake. For me, it’s baking all the way.
- To bake, preheat the oven to about 225 degrees Fahrenheit and allow to bake for 2 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 180° F. For a longer baking time, bake at 200° F for about 5 hours or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. Use a meat thermometer! Anything below this will lead to undercooked meat and anything above could lead to an overcooked bologna. Allow the finished product to cool before refrigerating. Once cold, it is ready to serve.
- To boil instead of baking, place the raw bologna in a pot of boiling water at 170 F°. Allow it to cook for 1 hour. Remove it from the pot and hang the sausages for another hour to drain. Then refrigerate them for 24 hours before eating.
- To serve, make a lengthwise cut through the casing, slice the bologna to your preferred size and peel the casing off each slice. Enjoy!
To prepare venison casings, rinse the inside-out casings thoroughly 2-3 times under running water. Rinse until the casings are no longer salty. Remember, casings originally come salty because they’re packed in brine or moist salt. After rinsing, soak them in hot water, preferably overnight. When you’re ready to stuff them, replace the soaking water with fresh water first. Then stuff!
When stuffing, leave enough room to tie the open ends. Don’t stuff to the very end.
Liquid smoke is basically water collected over smoke, and like all good things, there’s a replacement for it. Instead of liquid smoke, you can substitute smoked paprika or a smoker. To smoke:
After stuffing, soak the wood chips (which come in apple, hickory, or maple flavors) in water for about 30 minutes. Hang the bologna links to the sausage hooks of your smoker or lay them flat on the sausage racks. Then, place the wood chips into the smoker at 140 F°. Smoke the deer bologna for about 8 to 10 hours or until internal meat temperature is 165 F°.
When using a smoker, don’t check on the meat too often, lest you lose smoke. Also, don’t forget to soak your wood chips.
For a deer bologna with cheese, add ⅔ cup of shredded cheddar cheese in addition to the other spices.
Lastly, because the meat is a lean meat, you can choose to mix it with another type of meat. For example, you can substitute the 5 lbs of ground venison in the recipe above for 4 lbs venison and 1 lb of hamburger. Or you can use chicken fat, beef, or pork for a higher fat content.
Is Deer Bologna Safe?
When cooked, venison bologna smoked sausage made of cured deer is absolutely safe to eat. However, if the internal temperature isn’t cooked to at least 165° F, the meat will be unsafe for consumption. Be equally careful not to overcook the meat as that will dry it out.
Something to be aware of regarding wild-caught venison is the chance of lead exposure. As you’ve probably heard, lead isn’t a good thing for the body. Fortunately, you are only at risk to exposure this way if you purchase deer that was hunted down with lead-based bullets. Farmed venison is lead free. Instead of lead bullets, hunters should be using copper bullets or hunting with a bow and arrow.
For pregnant women, it’s advisable to check with a healthcare provider before consuming venison bologna. This is due to it being a deli meat, which some healthcare providers advise pregnant women not to eat.
As a red meat, deer meat isn’t exactly a heart-healthy food, but it is what’s known as an ultralean meat. This means it’s lower in calories, lower in fat, and relatively lower in cholesterol when compared to other sources of meat. It’s also rich in minerals and vitamins.
Venison bologna can be eaten on its own or incorporated as a protein source for a larger recipe. Apart from bologna, you can use venison to make hotdogs, steaks, roasts, deer sticks, and deer jerky. Really, deer bologna is one lunch meat that you should eat a bit more often. It’s delicious and gamey, and though on its own the meat may not be the most succulent, a good recipe can change that. Go make some for yourself!