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!


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