Author Topic: Modified AC Legg #116 snack sticks  (Read 160 times)

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Offline DWard51

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Modified AC Legg #116 snack sticks
« Reply #-1 on: October 22, 2017, 03:40:46 PM »
Well, I'm out of snack sticks.  I know, it's a disaster.  Well, I guess it's time to do something about that.

Here is the plan, making a 7 pound batch of beef sticks with my favorite go to recipe.  A modified version of AC Legg #116 spice mix with 80/20 ground chuck.  This is the recipe I'm using for a 7 pound batch.  I sometimes mix a little ground pork in, but today it is just 80/20 ground chuck from Sam's Club as I did not feel like defrosting whole meat and dragging out the #12 grinder.

Modified AC Legg #116 Snack Sticks


  • 7 pounds - 80/20 ground chuck
  • 146.85 grams - AC Legg #116 snack stick spice mix
  • 7.94 grams - Cure #1
  • 8.16 grams - Jalapeno powder (from Savory Spice Shop - good stuff)
  • 15.88 grams - Butcher & Packer #414 special binder (phosphates)
  • 1/4 cup - warm water (to dissolve cure in)
  • 23.81 grams - ECA (encapsulated citric acid - for that fermented twang flavor)



Cure #1 measured and ready to mix with water (container on right), and the other spices are in the container on the left (except the ECA which gets mixed just before smoking).  If you don't have a gram scale that will read in 1/100th of a gram, I highly recommend one.  It's pretty much impossible to do recipes like this with any degree of accuracy without one.  Most of the larger scales have a 0.5gram to as much as a 2 gram +/- accuracy (that's a 1 to 4 gram range).



Tried mixing the meat in a rimmed pan.  Bad idea. 7 pounds was just too much for this pan so I ended up transferring it to my usual stainless steel bowl.  Here is the meat/spice mix/cure mix in the pan.  I mixed about 50% at a time in batches for more even distribution.  With the addition of phosphates the meat *WILL* get very sticky towards the end, so expect it.



All mixed up and into a storage container to go back into the fridge to rest overnight.  I like to give the spices 24 hours or so to "meld" with the meat.  Tomorrow, I will add the ECA and stuff into 21mm collagen casings right before smoking.  The ECA is *NOT* in the ingredient photo above as I'm not mixing it in today.



For those who have not used ECA before, it needs to be added right before smoking and must be mixed by hand.  The CA part (citric acid) of ECA is Encapsulated (hence the "E" part of ECA) inside a little bubble of fat.  CA will cause meat to turn grey and have a mealy mouth feel if you mix it ahead of time and let it sit.  If you over work the ECA mixing it by using a mechanical means to mix, such as a mixing tub with a crank handle or using a grinder to stuff the casings, you can also break the encapsulation open too soon and cause problems with the quality of the meat.  The fat encapsulation is meant to melt at around 143-145* and release the CA into the meat after the meat is basically set (but not fully cooked).  This adds the twang flavor you would get by a bacterial fermentation of the sticks.  Another method to add twang is to use Fermento or Cultured Buttermilk Powder (Sacco brand from the grocery store).  Short of truly making fermented sticks with cure #2, I like ECA as I think the flavor is closest to the traditional stick flavor.  But the other methods will work (and cure #2 with true fermentation is the true 'old school' way, but it takes a lot longer and involves many more steps).

One more note about ECA.  If you have the LEM brand (and several others), the recommended rate is 3 ounces for 25 pounds of meat.  The Butcher & Packer brand of ECA recommends 1.5 ounces to 25 pounds of meat.  This batch will have a little of both brands.  I can't tell the visual difference between them.  I've also seen the recommended range of 2 to 3 ounces per 25 pounds of meat on other brands.  My thinking is the ECA is probably the same product and it's a 1.5 to 3 ounce per 25 pounds, or to taste.   So I'm sticking with my usual ratio that is the equivalent of the 3 ounces to 25 pounds or 23.81 grams for this batch of 7 pounds.  I will report if it's overkill or taste like my usual sticks do.

More to follow tomorrow with the stuffing and smoking.

Offline DWard51

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Re: Modified AC Legg #116 snack sticks
« on: October 23, 2017, 04:43:41 PM »
Day 2.....

Meat has been mixed with the spices and phosphates and allowed to rest overnight in the refrigerator so the flavors can blend.  Today I'm adding the ECA and stuffing into 21mm collagen casings and smoking/cooking.  Time to measure out the ECA (23.81 grams for 7 lbs of meat).

First here is the cast of characters for this step.  ECA from Butcher & Packer, 1/100th gram resolution digital scale, 100 gram calibration weight, and small container to weigh the ECA in.



I ALWAYS verify the calibration of my scale.  Make sure you buy the calibration weight that can also be used to reset your calibration if needed (rare, but it does happen - usually when the batteries start to die and after changing to new batteries).  Calibration check with the 100 gram test weight was spot on.



23.81 grams of ECA measured out (the small container was "tarred" out so the display only shows the weight of the product being weighed).  I love my 1/100th gram accuracy scale.  It's a must when doing small batches as cure #1 for a 1 pound batch of meat is only 1.13 grams.  Try measuring that on a postal scale with a +/- 2 gram accuracy.  You could end up with 1/2 of what you need or twice what you need.  1/100th gram resolution puts you spot on when paired with a calibration weight to verify accuracy (note:  I also double check the calibration at the end of weighing my spices just as a double check.  Scale was accurate when I started and accurate when I ended, so the measurements made in between should be golden).



ECA sprinkled in with the meat for mixing just before stuffing.  Gentle hand mixing and I also added about 1/2 cup of water to help loosen up the meat as the phosphates had made it a bound and sticky mass (which it is supposed to do).



The work table.  I use a length of plastic coated freezer paper to line my table for a clean work surface.  It also makes it super easy to clean up when done.  I did these sticks solo, so I crank out about 18" worth into the open work area, then cut with a pair of kitchen shears to about 11 or 12".  Then into the rimmed pan, and repeat until the meat is all stuffed.





Did a fry test with the little bit that always remains in the stuffing tube and horn section of the stuffer.  Flavor was spot on. A little jalapeno heat with that ECA twang.   I love this modified version of the AC Legg #116 spice (this is my goto version).   Note the moisture retention and smooth texture of the cut section.  This is due to the use of a phosphate in the sausage making process (and don't freak out, phosphates are a naturally occurring compound and not some franken-food).





And finally - into the custom built "MES CUSTOM SS" to complete the process.  Smoking will be in the following stages:

    60 minutes at 120* with no smoke to set casings to meat
    120 minutes at 130* with hickory smoke from a pellet tray
    120 minutes at 140* with smoke until the pellets run out (I run a single section in the pellet tray so figure on about 3 hours smoke total)
    60 minutes at 150*
    Heat at 165* to finish sticks at an internal temp of 152-154* (however long it takes)
    Let them cool on the racks to room temp for a couple of hours

7 pounds of stuffed 21mm casings only took up 3 racks in the MES CUSTOM SS smoker. Plenty of room for more in this modified smoker.



More to come once done.....

Offline RAD

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Re: Modified AC Legg #116 snack sticks
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2017, 06:10:06 PM »
That is going be some great sticks.
Love to cook and eat

Offline DWard51

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Re: Modified AC Legg #116 snack sticks
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2017, 11:43:26 PM »
And they are done.....

I've still got a few sticks in the MES.  Since I only had 3 racks I "thought" I would not need to do rotation of the racks as the MES CUSTOM SS does heat fairly evenly.  Apparently there is a slightly cooler column of air on the left side over where the element comes into the body (which makes sense now that I think about it).  So, I have about 10 sticks still in getting that last 5* to get over the 152* mark.  Yes, I temped every one of them with the Thermapen instant read just to be sure.

Nice color!!!!  (compare them to the just stuffed photos above)





I usually cut them into about 4" lengths (thirds) when I make the 21mm casing sticks.  Size is slightly thicker than the "monster" style Slim Jims.   Nice snap on these casings too (fresh, bought about 2 weeks ago and from a sausage supply house not Bass Pro or somewhere similar where you have no idea how long they have been in a box in the stock room or on a shelf).  Fresh makes a difference even with collagen.

Cut to show the consistenciy I get when using sausage making phosphates.  I'm sold on them and have even started using them in some of my other products.  Gives a nice commercial quality consistency and does improve the smoothness of the mouth feel as well.  Just don't overdo it and stick to recommended amounts or less (I go less with "regular" sausage).  Does wonders to keep the moisture in your product.  Also helps with collagen casings in sticks as the meat does not shrink away and loosen the casing.


Offline GusRobin

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Re: Modified AC Legg #116 snack sticks
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2017, 11:53:22 PM »
great looking sticks. thanks for the recipe.
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Offline Roget

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Re: Modified AC Legg #116 snack sticks
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2017, 09:49:05 AM »
Those look beautiful!

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