Looking for an easy yet delicious way to enjoy venison, pork, or beef on a lazy Saturday afternoon in the backyard? Try making snack sticks in a smoker!
Whether you’re serving them as a snack for the kids or as a savory addition to a birthday dinner, smoked snack sticks are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
But how exactly do you hang snack sticks in a smoker? In this article, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make perfectly smoked snack sticks.
From preparing the smoker and the meat (using a mixture of 80% meat and 20% fat) to stuffing the casings and hanging the sausages on hooks, we’ll walk you through the entire process.
So keep reading to learn more and get ready to impress your guests with your delicious homemade snack sticks!
Table of Contents
- What Are Snack Sticks?
- Benefits of Hanging Snack Sticks inside a Smoker
- The Ultimate Guide to Hanging Snack Sticks in a Smoker
- Precautions to Take Before Hanging Snack Sticks in a Smoker
What Are Snack Sticks?
These bite-sized meat snacks are made by packing semi-dried sausage into small-diameter casings, often using collagen or natural casings.
They’re great for on-the-go snacking, whether you’re on a road trip or just need a quick pick-me-up after a workout.
With a range of sweet and spicy flavors to choose from, snack sticks are the perfect snack for busy families looking for tasty options that fit their lifestyles.
Benefits of Hanging Snack Sticks inside a Smoker
Racking and hanging are two common methods for preparing snack sticks at home, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Racking is great for even heating but requires frequent turning. On the other hand, hanging snack sticks allows for better air circulation, eliminates the need for constant rotation, and ensures that all ingredients bind together and flavors fully develop.
Additionally, hanging the sticks creates more space in the smoker for additional meat without any grill marks. Overall, using the hanging method when smoking snack sticks results in a mouth-watering dish that everyone can savor.
The Ultimate Guide to Hanging Snack Sticks in a Smoker
There are several simple steps to follow when hanging snack sticks in a smoker.
1. Setting the Smoker
When it comes to hanging snack sticks in a smoker, setting up the smoker is a piece of cake.
Start by taking out the smoker racks and cutting a 12-inch wooden stick to match the smoker’s width. Then, hang the sticks on the brackets that hold the upper shelf.
After that, all you have to do is suspend the looped sticks from the dowels and wait for the magic to happen. Get ready to smoke those snack sticks to perfection!
2. Prepare the Meat and Stuffings
Preparing the meat and stuffings for snack sticks requires some basic steps to ensure the perfect result.
Firstly, the meat used for snack sticks can be any lean meat mixed with fat in an 80:20 ratio. Before grinding the meat, it is necessary to remove extra fat, blood clots, cords, and any undesirable portions.
Using a 3/8-inch plate for the first grind and a 1/8-inch grinder plate for the second, crush the meat and fat. Then, mix the meat in a bowl with spices until everything is equally distributed.
To hang snack sticks, use a casing no larger than 0.8 inches in diameter, made of either collagen or natural sheep substance. Pack the meat filling into the casing, ensuring there are no air gaps and the length is appropriate for the smoker.
Once the snack sticks are filled and formed into ropes, hang them in a room heated to 90° F for an hour to absorb the cure. Ensure they don’t come into contact with each other. The drier the sausage, the better the result will be when smoking.
3. Smoking the Snack Sticks
The key to smoking snack sticks is to make sure they cook evenly on all sides, so hang them with enough space between each stick. To prevent your meat from sticking together during cooking, it’s recommended to place a small pan at the bottom of the smoker to increase humidity.
Before smoking, preheat your smoker to 125°F and hang the snack sticks or place them on the rack. If your smoker can’t reach this temperature, start at the lowest temperature possible and increase it gradually over time.
Smoke the meat for about an hour and a half at 125°F, then gradually increase the temperature to 135°F for one hour, and then to 155°F for another hour. Finally, keep the temperature at 165°F until the internal temperature of the sausages reaches 160°F.
When hanging snack sticks, it is crucial to apply smoke lightly, and different cooking temperatures have various purposes, including applying smoke, drying, and finishing. If the heat is too low, the sticks will cook for an extended period, while setting the heat too high will cause the fat to melt, resulting in crumbly sticks.
To keep the fat inside the sticks, smoke them with hickory or apple wood and ensure the temperature is not too hot for the small sections of white fat to melt.
When the casings become dry and brown, it’s time to remove them from the smoker. Remember to insert a probe in the center of one of the sticks to keep track of the temperature throughout the smoking process.
4. Cool The Snack Sticks
After taking the snack sticks out of the smoker, cool them with cold water and wait for at least 10 minutes for the temperature to drop.
Then, let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before refrigerating or freezing them. For future consumption, you can keep the snack sticks in vacuum-sealed bags.
5. Storing the Snack Sticks
Vacuum sealing these delicious snacks can help extend their shelf life up to two weeks in the refrigerator or six months in the freezer.
If you choose to store them in a zipper-lock bag in the fridge, be sure to consume them within one week.
Using leftover venison or beef to make snack sticks is a fantastic way to minimize waste, and as you can see, the process is not as challenging as it may seem.
Not only are they more affordable than store-bought options, but you also have complete control over the ingredients.
So why not give it a try and enjoy these homemade treats?
Precautions to Take Before Hanging Snack Sticks in a Smoker
Before hanging snack sticks in a smoker, leave enough space between the sticks and the burner to prevent over-smoking the bottom of the meat.
If you’re using racks, you can turn the sticks around to ensure even cooking. However, if you’re hanging the sticks, you can leave more space between them or cut them into smaller pieces.
When hanging the sticks, it’s best to place them as close to the smoker door as possible to distribute the heat evenly. You don’t need to rotate or open the door, but you can use a tape measure to cut the sticks to around 37 inches and stuff them accordingly.
Raising the temperature slowly is crucial to avoid overcooking the bottom of the sticks. To diffuse the heat from above the smoker, you can use a large stone or an aluminum pan filled with sand to help even the temperature.
You now have a comprehensive understanding and step-by-step guidance on how to hang snack sticks in a smoker. Don’t hesitate any longer and start smoking your beef, jerky, or venison snack sticks today.
Make sure to let the casings dry before applying smoke, raise the temperature gradually, and leave enough space between the sticks and the heat source to prevent overheating.
By following these tips, you’ll have a tasty snack that your whole family will love. So go ahead and give it a try!
Wishing you the best of luck in your snack stick-smoking endeavors!