Some Arkansans know a route to using unpopular types or odds and ends of game meat. They make sausage.
Yes, we are familiar with the old adage of "you don’t want to see how sausage is made."
But sausage is good eating – when it is the product of someone who knows how to make it. Deer sausage is familiar to most folks in or around the hunting brigades.
Two other types of sausage are possibilities from potentially abundant supplies of meat from the outdoors. Snow geese and feral or wild hogs are the sources. Both are vastly underutilized in Arkansas as hunting targets and as meat supplies.
Snow geese are so numerous over the continent that wildlife authorities beg hunters to go after them. Snow geese winter in Arkansas in flocks of thousands. The rise of winter wheat growing is a major attraction to them. Most Arkansas waterfowl hunters disdain snow geese, using labels like "sky carp."
There is edible, even good, meat on a snow goose, and four Little Rock area waterfowl enthusiasts have taken this to the sausage route. Trey Reid, Luke Naylor, Rich Johnson and Buck Jackson quietly smile when talk flares around them about snow geese and less than popular varieties of ducks. They think sausage.
Reid said, "We had a session not long ago and ground up a big batch of snow goose and duck meat and made four kinds of sausage – brats, jalapeno brats, Italian and boudin." The latter, to folks unfamiliar with cuisine to the south of Arkansas, is a Cajun sausage that incorporates rice.
Words in this space can’t teach the makings of sausage. Briefly, it involves mixing ground meat, and this can be more than one kind, with assorted spices then stuffing the mixture into tubes of various types. These sausage tubes can be refrigerated, frozen or smoked. The sausage can also be shaped into patties and cooked without going the tubing route.
Reid said, "Of the four types we made, my favorite was the jalapeno brats. We probably needed to add more fat to our sausage. We used 20 percent pork fat, and you know how wild game of any kind is lean. It would have been better with a little more fat in the mix, maybe as much as a third fat."
Luke Naylor lives in Conway and is the chief waterfowl biologist for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He jotted down the recipe for one of their types of snow goose sausage.
Snow Goose Boudin
3 lbs. snow goose breast meat, cubed.
1 lb. pork back fat, cubed or rough ground (can be purchased from local butcher).
1 cup coarsely chopped onion.
½ cup coarsely chopped bell pepper.
½ cup coarsely chopped celery.
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley.
1 cup chopped green onion (green part only).
1 ½ tsp. salt.
1 ½ tsp. black pepper.
6 cups cooked rice.
Natural hog casings (optional).
Grind goose meat and pork fat, if necessary, using coarse grinder plate. Combine coarse ground goose and pork fat, mix well, and grind mixture using fine grinder plate. Mix well to ensure even distribution of meat and fat. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Using sausage stuffer or stuffer attachment on grinder, stuff casings to make quarter-pound links. Alternatively, mixture can be formed into balls and fried (with or without coating in a seasoned flour mixture) and served with remoulade sauce. Either preparation freezes well.
Most snow geese have left Arkansas now to return to the far north. They’ll be back next hunting season. The sausage-making principles can apply to other meat from the wild – feral hogs included.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.