I have to admit. I’m a sucker for a good spicy snack stick. I can eat them all day long!! Recently we started a project that involves some of the world’s hottest peppers so I though it would be fun to make the ultimate spicy snack stick. The cheddar was just a bonus😁
Today we are aiming to make not only a spicy snack stick but a tangy one as well!! We are going to achieve those sourly notes in our snack stick by using a product called encapsulated citric acid. This is a great way to get that traditional old fashion tangy flavor with out having to ferment of mess with starter cultures. This product works like a time release to lower the ph of your sausage. You can use it to make summer sausage, pepperoni, or anything that you want a slightly tangy or sourly flavor.
Here’s how it works. The citric acid is coated with hydrogenated cotton seed oil. That cotton seed oil melts between 135F – 150F. So as soon as you start cooking your ECA filled sausage and it reaches an internal temperature of 150F the oil coating will have melted and the citric acid will be released into the meat, lowering the ph. TANGY!!
Encapsulated citric acid is very easy to use and works great if you follow the package directions. ECA (encapsulated citric acid) must be the very last ingredient you add to your meat as you are mixing. If you add it too soon the encapsulation could break, releasing the citric acid into your meat messing up the bind and texture. The other thing to remember about ECA is that it must be cooked the day it’s prepared.
I know that some of you may saying, ” wait a minute. Don’t we have to let the sausage rest in the fridge overnight to allow the cure to work?”. Under normal circumstances you are correct but encapsulated citric acid also works as a cure accelerator so when you use ECA you can cook immediately after stuffing!
I used 18-20mm sheep casings in this recipe but if you happen to have collagen casings those work great as well. Just be sure to dry your snack sticks out before cooking so that the casings can adhere properly and the snack stick can take on that tasty smoke. To dry your casing out simply hang it at room temperature for a couple of hours before smoking or set your smoker to very low (100F-110F) with the baffles wide open or the door slightly ajar. This will speed up the process.
Follow basic sausage preparation practices when making this sausage.
- Clean and Sanitize all of your equipment.
- Keep your meat and grinder parts super cold (below 34F)
- Any liquid that is added to the mince needs to be ice cold
- Mix your very chilled meat till the mince becomes very tacky
- Stuff the mince into sausage casings and prick out any air pockets
- After stuffing, smoke and cook your snack sticks low and slow:
Start at 125F for 1 1/2 hours, 135F for 1 hour, 155F for 1 hour, 165F for 1 hour, then 180F till the internal temp reaches 150F (smoke is being applied lightly through the entire cooking process)
- After they finish smoking submerge the snack sticks in ice cold water to cool them off completely
- Finally let them bloom at room temperature for several hours.
- Refrigerate and enjoy!!
Here are a few things you might find useful when making sausage
- High Quality Natural Casings (AA Grade)
- Iodophor Sanitizer
- MK4 Thermapen (Accurate Thermometer)
- Chef Knife – KOTAI
- Boning Knife
- Iwatani Professional Chef Torch
- Insta Cure #1
- Potato Starch
- Sausage Stuffers
- Meat Grinder
- Bella’s Cold Smoke Generator
If you want to see the different things that we use in operation our be sure to check out our new Amazon Store.
Spicy Cheddar Snack Sticks
- 350 g lean beef
- 350 g lean pork
- 300 g pork pack fat
- 2.5 g insta cure #1
- 17 g kosher salt
- 2.5 g black pepper
- 3 g garlic powder
- 1.5 g onion powder
- 2 g chipotle powder
- 3 g Super spicy pepper flakes Use your favorite spicy pepper flakes. Add to taste
- 1.5 g mustard powder
- 2.5 g granulated sugar
- 100 g extra sharp cheddar cheese cut into small cubes
- 20 g nonfat dry milk powder
- 7.5 g encapsulated citric acid ADD LAST DURING THE FINAL STAGES OF MIXING
- 1/4 cup ice cold water
- Sheep casings 18mm-20mm
- Clean your meat of any silver skin, sinew, arteries and cut into small strips or cubes. Place the meat and fat in the freezer for an hour or until the temp reaches 32f – 34F.
- Prepare all of your seasonings (except the encapsulated citric acid), clean and rehydrate your casings
- Grind your very chilled meat and fat on a course plate (12mm). Add all of your seasonings to your course ground meat (except the encapsulated citric acid)
- Regrind your seasoned meat on a 6mm or 4mm plate.
- Add the ice cold water to your seasoned meat and begin to mix till it becomes very tacky. If you grab a small handful it will stick to your hand if you hold your hand upside down. Once that happens add the small cheddar cheese cubes and mix till they are well incorporated. LASTLY ADD THE ENCAPSULATED CITRIC ACID and mix for 20 more seconds till it's well incorporated.
- Stuff your mince meat into the sheep casings and form your links.
- After you form your links place the sticks in your smoker and let them dry out for 1 hour. I keep a low 100F temp with the door slightly open.
- Start cooking at 125F for 1 1/2 hours, 135F for 1 hour, 155F for 1 hour, 165F for 1 hours then 180 till the internal temp reaches 150F (smoke is being applied lightly through the entire cooking process)
- Once finished cooking submerge in ice cold water and hang to bloom for 4-8 hours
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