Hank Shaw: What We Learned From Him on His Book Tour + Giveaway

Hank & Weston CEO Mike Caspar discuss sausage making as Hank prepares his grind for the upcoming demo.

Hank's been all over the country spreading the word about his new book, Duck, Duck, Goose - which we pre-ordered and devoured in the first 30 minutes of the plane ride from Cleveland to St. Paul. [Yes, it is a cookbook. And yes we did read each recipe ingredient-by-ingredient. And the excellent opening basics. And the introduction. ]

We were invited to St. Paul by Angler & Hunter to watch Hank make wild game sausage with our equipment. Sure, we know plenty about making sausage - we've been doing this a while (and regularly). But it never hurts to be reminded of the subtle must-do's while listening to another's perspective (and not just another's - Hank Shaw's - the master of delicious wild game recipes). And hey, as it turned out: We picked up a few new tricks as well.

Blaine Kirchert of Angler & Hunter, Hank Shaw, and Mike Caspar of Weston

Sausage Making Basics from Hank Shaw
What We Learned from Hank at Angler & Hunter in St. Paul

Choosing the Meat

  • Let's get right into it: Testosterone means your meat/fat will be smelly and your spice quotient will be higher. Use large black bears, boars, and bucks for chorizo and highly seasoned sausages. The ideal pig or bear is about 225 lbs - it is likely to have the right amount of good tasting fat. A nice, fat doe is what you'll want for finer cuts like steaks.
  • Pay attention to what the animal is eating. Diet impacts flavor. Whitetails over grain fields means mild fat. Mule deer over sage will be a highly potent fat. Wild pigs eating barley are good. Et cetera.
  • Braise shanks - do not use them for sausage (they're too full of sinnew). Don't grind tenderloin and back-strap! That's a sin.
  • Front legs, meat from the ribs, and flanks are prime cuts for sausage.


  • What makes a sausage a sausage is a bind (proteins holding the meat together tightly). That's what separates it from hamburger meat. 
  • Keep your meat and fat cold for a good bind (not over 50 degrees). You don't want "smear." 
  • Use a mixer and mix the meat for a few minutes to bind.
  • Don't let the meat sit after you grind it. Start the bind right away.

Keep It Cold

  • Keep your meat grinder head, plates, knife, and tray in the freezer.
  • Limit the amount you touch it with your hands - they're 98.6 degrees!

Fat Content

  • Hank recommends a 4-1 ratio. You need a certain amount of fat to keep sausage moist.
  • Ask the butcher for fatback (pure fat from the back of a pig) or pork shoulder (not pure fat - so you'll need more of it).
  • The distinction between the way animals taste is mostly in the fat and the skin. Keep/trim away the skin and fat based on flavors that you want to keep or get rid of. 


  • The higher the quality of your meat, the lower amount of seasonings you use.
  • Buy a scale.
  • Use grams instead of tablespoon/teaspoon for measuring salt (salts are cut differently).
  • 36-40 grams of salt per 5 lb batch (roughly 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon).
  • Put a pinch of the seasoning in before grinding, leave the rest for mixing in after grinding. It's called 'an interior garnish' in cooking schools - it's for texture. 
Hank uses a Weston Pro Series Grinder to prepare the sausage grind


  • Clean out the grinder - the blade will collect sinnew that you don't want in your sausage. This collection will also jam the grinder, producing an unwanted texture. If it looks mushy, you have too much sinnew. 
  • When you grind waterfowl go right to the fine grind. Venison, pork, and beef will need a coarse grind first. 
  • To get all the meat out of your grinder - put some bread in there at the end. 

Using a Weston Vertical Stuffer to make venison sausage


  • Use a Vertical Stuffer. It stuffs the meat into a casing without heating the meat like other stuffing methods.
  • Chill the stuffer canister and nozzle into the freezer before using.
Hank cooks up some of the most delicious wild game sausage we have ever had

For more expert advice on sausage making, wild game processing, waterfowl, etc. check out Hank's books "Hunt, Gather, Cook" and "Duck, Duck, Goose" - We swear by them! As you await their delivery, you can get a quick fix from his blog "Hunter Angler Gardener Cook."

Oh! And while you're on his blog, enter to win a Weston Commercial Meat Grinder! To enter, you just post a photo of you with Hank's book "Duck, Duck, Goose" to your Facebook or Twitter with the following "I love making sausage and would very much like to use a Weston grinder to do it" (or something like that).

Then you just post the link to your status on Hank's Facebook, our Facebook, or Hank's blog post: He's picking a winner December 4th. Good Luck!

Just one last thing: If you'd like to catch Hank on his book tour, click here to check out his schedule. 

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