Elk Corn Dogs: Give Your Big-Game Sausage a Crowd-Pleasing (i.e. Deep-Fried) Twist

Photograph by Plamen Petkov

This state-fair knockout actually comes from the Four Seasons Resort in Vail, Colo., where executive chef Kevin Erving serves his elk corn dogs. The process is a multiday one, so a measure of ambition helps. If you run out of ambition, however, you can skip the battering and just grill or broil
the sausages instead—serving them as hot dogs rather than corn dogs, in other words. Either way, you're tasting franks at their wildest.

Ingredients
2 lb. elk (or venison), cubed
11⁄2 lb. fatback or pork shoulder, diced
11⁄2 Tbsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. pink curing salt
1 Tbsp. Colman's mustard powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. celery seed
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
Hog casings, soaked
11⁄2 cups flour
1⁄2 cup yellow cornmeal
11⁄2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
11⁄2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup whole milk
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
Oil, for deep frying

1. Make the sausage: Put the elk and fatback or pork into the freezer for a while, until it’s about 35 degrees—very cold but not frozen. Using a meat grinder, grind the elk and fatback through the fine die. (Alternatively, you can process in a food processor, in small batches, until finely ground.) Combine the mixture with the kosher and pink salts and 11⁄4 cup cold water and cure in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.

2. Add the mustard, paprika, coriander, pepper, garlic, celery seed, and corn syrup and combine well. Transfer the mixture to the freezer and chill until it’s brittle but not frozen. Working in small batches, process the mixture in a food processor until it’s smooth and tacky.

3. Stuff the mixture into the soaked hog casings and twist into 4-inch links. Poke each link once with a skewer or fork and refrigerate overnight.

4. Smoke the sausages at 200 degrees until they reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees. (Alternatively, you can put them on a roasting pan in a 200-degree oven and roast them to the same internal temperature.) Refrigerate until ready to fry.

5. Make the batter: Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the milk and stir, with a wooden spoon, just enough to combine; lumps are O.K. Allow the mixture to rest for about 10 minutes.

6. Bring the oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.

7. Batter the corn dogs: Transfer some of the batter into a tall drinking glass. Scatter the cornstarch onto a plate, and one by one, roll the sausages in the cornstarch until lightly dredged, shaking off any excess. Slide the sausage onto a wooden skewer or chopstick and then dip into the batter in the glass, allowing any excess to drip off. Immediately place the battered sausage into the hot oil and fry until the coating is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining sausages, refilling the glass as needed, and serve the corn dogs hot. Serves 12 or more.