iKC is full of members who enjoy using knives from their collections to prepare and eat a meal. This can include using your Fallkniven V1L hunting knife to prepare a great rack of ribs for the BBQ to using your collectible David Yellowhorse Buck 110 at your favorite steakhouse; or from using your EDC to slice an onion to using your WWII era Army mess kit knife to butter your toast. Maybe instead your collection includes a fine set of Katsura or Seido Damascus kitchen knives – in which case Hontōni kūruda koto (which means That’s really cool!)

The point is that knives and food have been partners since mankind first said “I’m hungry!” Oh sure, we may have dedicated kitchen knives we use, but it’s always more fun to use something from our collection – it just seems to add to the flavor!

 This thread is dedicated to the knife you use to prepare and enjoy the food you eat. Share your knife, share your story, and share your recipe!

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Venison Breakfast sausage (fresh Swojska kielbasa)

Sometimes you just need to have some fresh kielbasa to have with breakfast, or in your cottage pie, or with some Resztki (pronounced Rest-key). That's what I've done here – but with a twist. I used pork scraps and venison for this batch.

Now I know that for most folks, when you say kielbasa, you’re thinking either those long 3 pound rolls in a freezer box or a package of links. But there is fresh kielbasa as well. And just to be clear, remember kielbasa = sausage. There is no such thing as Kielbasa sausage, because then you are calling it Sausage sausage. And there are many different kinds and flavors of kielbasa, as we are about to discover.

Because this is a fresh sausage (meaning not in a casing) it could be considered a breakfast sausage, or Swojska kielbasa.

For this recipe, it’s about using up meats that I may or may not otherwise have a use for. I happened to have 5 pounds of pork rib trimmings and a 2 pound venison roast. The rib trimmings come from racks of pork ribs that are trimmed St. Louis style, and saved for later use. As my wife is not so fond of Texas venison, using it in a flavorful sausage is ideal. However – this recipe can be used with any meats really.

I usually start this process on a Friday night, and finish it on either Saturday or Sunday. 

This is what I used for the ingredients – estimating yield to be 5-7 pounds: (adjust meat according to what you have)

  • 5 lbs pork rib trimmings
  • 2 lbs pork belly or back fat. Sliced bacon works great too.
  • 2 lbs venison roast
  • 3 large garlic cloves - pressed, or 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Cure #1 (also known as Prague powder or Insta-Cure #1); See notes
  • 1 C ice cold water

Directions: Day 1 - Meat Prep

  1. Take your favorite knife and wash it thoroughly in warm soapy water. Remember - this will be used in preparing food, so we do not want any gun oil, grease, or cleaning compound on the blade.
  2. For this sausage adventure, I selected three of my go-to meat prep knives from CFK. I have found these three are ideal for the types of trimming and cutting I will be doing for this particular batch.

  3. Trim the meat from the pork bones, ensuring none of the rib gristle is included. I ended up with about 3 lbs of usable meat from the 5 lbs of trimmings I started with. I separated the sausage meat from the bones, then separated the usable bones for use in pork & black bean soup, and ended up with a small amount of unusable waste - about 3 oz. Not a bad yield!

  4. Next, I used my CFK hunting knife and sliced up the bowl of pork sausage meat into approximately 1 inch pieces. This will make grinding it easier. Next, slice up the bacon...add it to the bowl. Finally, I sliced up the venison roast into 1 inch chunks as well and added it to the bowl.
  5. Next, in a small bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. 
  6. Pour half of the mixed ingredients over the sausage meat; then using your clean hands, mix everything together. Once mixed well, pour the remaining ingredients over the sausage meat, add the water, and mix thoroughly again. Make sure everything is blended together.
  7. Put your mixed sausage meat into 1 gallon zip freezer bags, and store in the refrigerator over night to marinate the meat. 

Notes on Cure #1 - 

Cure #1 is primarily used when curing meats that will be cooked later. Because this is going to be fresh sausage and not in a casing, we will not be curing sausage. However, as a precaution, I used it in this batch because the venison is wild game. Most nasties that are associated with wild game is killed off during the cooking process in fresh sausage, but I chose to be cautious.  Cure #1 is not needed if using farm-raised meats in fresh sausage.

Directions: Day 2 - The Grind

  1. To ensure we work with cold meat, we process only one bag of sausage meat at a time. Take one out from the refrigerator and poor into a sizable mixing bowl. Using a large mixing spoon, stir the meat up a bit to loosen it up. 
  2. For the actual grinding, I have a dedicated meat grinder. A food processor could be used, but that just takes a little more care to work so you don't end up with meat pate instead of ground meat. If you have a meat grinder (or attachment for your Kitchen-Aid), start with a large cutting plate.
  3. Grind enough meat to make some sample sausage patties. Fry these up and taste - is the flavor good? Need anything...salt, pepper, more marjoram? Now is the time to adjust any of the ingredients. Apply whatever is needed and mix thoroughly.
  4. Repeat above. Once the flavor is where you want it, grind the rest of the meat. Once this first bag is ground, change the grinding plate to a medium grind. This will make it more like what you find in the grocery store. For fresh sausage, I usually stop here. If you choose to make links or fill a casing, then you will want to change plates to your small plate and grind again. 
  5. Once all the meat from the first bag is ground, measure out 1 lb balls (about the size of you fist) and put into quart-sized freezer bags. Label the bags and store in your freezer.
  6. Repeat the above steps for the next bag of sausage meat.

The knives featured in this adventure include the following (top to bottom):

  • My 9" skinning/camp knife I refer to as "Blackie". Because the blade is mirror polished 1095 carbon, it stains when working with meat - as seen in the photo. It regains it's luster with a thorough cleaning and buffing. 
  • A Lil' WSK tracker knife - an 8" overall blessing when it comes to removing membrane from the ribs. 
  • My 7" utility / boning knife. This bad boy was instrumental in getting ALL the meat from them bones!

And there you have it! Great tasting breakfast kielbasa made with my three of my favorite knives!

A Great Steak Knife

Somewhere around 1979-80 I read a small article in Blade Magazine about collectors who use their knives as personal steak knives. Wow…I had never thought of that. This was a revelation for me, as the article gave me permission to use my own knife.

And why not? You bowl better when you use your own bowling ball; you’re a pool sharp when you use your own pool cue….it makes sense. The steak has to taste better when you use your own knife! And of course, the knives shown in the article were serious works of art too, custom made for the collector.

The problem was that at the time, my entire blade collection consisted of my Kamp King Scout knife, an Arisaka Type 30 bayonet, and my college fencing gear. So I began a quest to find a knife worthy of that steak!

Today, that notion has been somewhat blown out of proportion, and I use my collection knives for everything in the kitchen, the BBQ, and eating out.

One evening I was enjoying a great steak at one of our favorite restaurants of the time – The Stag & Hound, using this Damascus knife.

I was unaware at the time that my knife was being admired by another guest sitting at a nearby table. After I finished that perfect steak using my personal steak knife, the gentleman came over and commented on my knife. Asking to see it, I cleaned it off and handed it to him. Full of compliments, he too commented that he never thought of bringing his own steak knife to a restaurant, and watching me enjoy my dinner gave him permission to do just that as well.

Then he asked if I would be willing to sell it. Although I thought my knife was cool, I didn’t think it was that cool….but he did. So I sold it on the spot. That sale not only paid for my dinner, it put some jingle in my jeans as well.

Today I have several knives in my Steak Knife arsenal, and let me tell ya – the steaks do taste better when you use your own knife!

Preparing for the Family Thanksgiving Meal

In preparation for the 2021 family Thanksgiving meal, we harvested two turkey's today at my son's farm - a 24 pound Tom and a 23 pound hen. With plenty of hands to do the feather plucking, my son cleaned and dressed the birds, and I dressed out and prepared the giblets (gizzards the size of base balls, livers, hearts, and neck trimming).

Since nothing gets wasted, these will be added to the carcass, the feet, and necks for bone broth on Thanksgiving day as well. For this task, I chose my Mossberg MSG9899 for the job. You can read more about this knife in following iKC knife review: 

While harvesting your own turkey for Thanksgiving may not be the ideal or classic Norman Rockwell memory, I find it extremely satisfying to see my children practicing the skills we taught them to at least "know how", while teaching their children at the same time. It's a living legacy...and it tastes so good!

So here's the Mossberg:

A simple knife that is ideal for most fowl or poultry, it makes quick work of meat prep. It keeps an edge and it cleans up well.

However you celebrate....Happy Thanksgiving!

Muela Stuffed Squash with Venison Sausage

A trifecta of goodness - a slow cooked acorn squash with fresh venison sausage prepared with my Muela Mirage 20 Bowie. I'm not sure it can get much better!

Following the survival principal of 2=1, the Muela Mirage 20 is my main pack knife supported by my Buck 110 folder. This was my primary tool set as a Search & Rescue (SAR) officer throughout the outback of Arizona, be it alpine, the chaparral, or desert. 

Whether on a mission or just camping, the stuffed squash with sausage made a perfect single meal, as it has everything needed to satisfy the taste buds and the hunger pangs in a single "one pot" meal. Easy to prepare, it was prep'd in foil prior to the backpack trip or mission so I didn't have to carry separate ingredients - just unpack and throw it in the fire. Usually it was buried in the campfire embers after morning coffee, and baked in the fire coals for the day. Buy late afternoon / early evening, it was ready to consume! At home, I often prepare one of these for my lunch.

About the Knife:

Depending on your perspective, the Muela Mirage 20 is a hybrid of what is referred today as a Combat/Fighter/Survival/Tactical knife. At the time of purchase back in 1993, it was simply marketed as a Hunting/Survival knife by most suppliers. What I cared about is that it had all the design elements that made it ideal for the various Arizona landscapes and terrains for both my SAR and backpacking experiences. 

The Mirage 20 is still an offered design by Muela today, is still under $100.00 USD, and is still my go-to main pack knife!

Making the Meal:

OK...I'll admit the Mirage 20 is probably not the most practical knife to make this meal with, but I gotta tell ya - it sure is fun! And besides, those acorn squashes can be tough little buggers to crack open. What good is carrying a survival knife if you can't use it to survive and feed yourself?

Here's what we need:

  • Your favorite knife - preferably one that can either slice, chop (not preferred), or work its way through an acorn squash without losing a finger in the process.
  • 1 small or medium sized acorn squash - depending on how hungry you think you will be. Feel free to substitute and use any winter squash if you're not a fan of the acorn.
  • 1/2 pound of your favorite fresh sausage. I chose to use fresh sage sausage like we made in the first posting. It's this ingredient that makes this a Polish dish...just sayin'.  :-D  Jimmy Dean and Owen's brands work really good too if you're not feeling very Polish.
  • Spices or seasonings to taste. I use Allspice, covering both the squash and the sausage. It enhances the flavor of the sausage while giving sweetness to the savory squash.
  • Aluminum foil - enough to wrap the squash
  • Heat source. We're going to make this one in our oven at home, so I place it in a cast iron pan (because it's like camping!). Using a cooking sheet also works. I do not recommend just placing the wrapped squash on an oven rack as the juices from cooking often leak out. That will make for a delicious-smelling mess later.

Here's what we do:

  1. Oven - preheat to 350 degrees F. If you want it to cook faster, preheat to 400 degrees. 
  2. Take your favorite knife and wash it thoroughly in warm soapy water. Remember - this will be used in preparing food, so we do not want any gun oil, grease, or cleaning compound on the blade.
  3. If you perform or have a ritual with your favorite knife, perform it now. For this one, I usually unsheathe it and say "Hello my friend - it's good to see you again!"
  4. OK - step 3 may seem corny to you, but I'm just acknowledging the shared experiences with my knife. When you are alone in the wilderness your knife is your best friend. You do things together. (I'll probably never hear the end of this one!  :-D).
  5. Because if it's shape, the acorn squash can be difficult to split open without it rolling around, so we want to create a flat spot. Depending on the squash, a natural flat spot may already be formed where the stem is at. If not, create one at the stem or at the tip of the squash. I use the serration of the Mirage 20 to perform this function and slice off a piece rather than chopping a piece off. 
  6. Set the squash upright on the flat spot just created, and with a fair amount of pressure, slice through the squash vertically. You could chop through it, but I have broken more squash doing that than by slicing it.

  7. Scoop out the seeds and seed mesh and discard.
  8. Once the seeds and seed mesh is removed, take the point of your knife and poke a half dozen holes or so in the cavity of each half, being careful not to poke all the way through it. In the photo below I used a fork. This will allow the sausage juices to soak into the meat of the squash as it cooks. 
  9. Take your sausage and make a large meatball the size of the cavity on one of the squash halves (about the size of a tennis ball). Depending on the size of your squash, this may use the full half pound (mine does), a little more or a little less. Press it in firmly filling the cavity completely with approximate half of the meatball or less above the cavity wall. This will "lock" the other squash half in place.

  10. Combine the two halves together and place it upright on the piece of aluminum foil. If you are a shiny side or dull side up aluminum foil person, then now is the time to determine which side of the foil will infuse the most flavor to your meal. We can bust that myth in a later post.

  11. Tightly wrap the acorn with the foil bringing all sides to converge at the top so there is only one place for the steam and juices to escape - if at all.
  12. Place the wrapped squash either in your pan or on a cooking sheet, and place it in the oven.

  13. Cook for 60 minutes at 350 degrees, 45 minutes if at 400. If buried in campfire embers, it will be done in its own good time - usually several hours minimum. 
  14. At the end of the cook time, test for doneness by opening the foil and poking either your knife tip or a fork into the squash as shown in the photo. The knife or fork should pierce the outer wall and into the squash easily with almost a mushy feel to it. If not done enough yet, reseal the foil and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat until it is done to your liking.

  15. Once done, open up the squash to reveal that fabulous meal! Be careful when separating the two halves so as to not get a steam burn. 
  16. Cut the meatball in half and place it in the other squash cavity, having meat with both halves of the squash.
  17. Plate up and season to taste. If you're Polish or Eastern European, you'll think Matka made this for you when you cover it with Allspice!

  18. Enjoy!

To be honest, I'm not sure which is more fun - using my knife or eating the squash! The point is that knife handling skills is a perishable skill. If you are a knife user - be it cutting up cardboard or practicing Bushcraft, using your go-knife in the kitchen is a great way to keep those skills alive. It doesn't matter if you use your Spyderco to slice an onion or your Muela Mirage 20 to cut open a squash - the key is to use it!

I hope you enjoyed this - I sure did. Thanks for reading.


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