Step 7: Smoke (optional if baking)
If you don't have a smoker, you can skip this step. Smoke flavor can be gained by adding 2 tsp liquid smoke to the mixture in step 5. However, this will not provide the added preservation benefits smoking will. You can also add smoke flavor in the smoker, then finish the process in the oven, or do it all in the smoker.
Plug the smoker in outdoors in a safe place where it will be certain NOT to cause a fire.
Fill the pan with your preference of wood chips and place it on the burner. Bring the rack inside and place the sausage on the rack in such a way so that the smoke will be able to circulate freely, in other words, don't let the sausages touch each other except where they are connected on the ends.
As soon as the smoker starts to make smoke, put the rack inside, and put the lid on.
If smoke flavoring only: Replace the pan of chips once after it quits smoking. After the second panful is consumed and no more smoke is coming out, move on to step 8.
If you want to preserve the sausage with smoke: You will need to use 5 panfuls of chips, and leave the sausages inside for 12 hours. The goal is to raise the temperature in the center of the sausage to 160 degrees F. You will want to replace the burned up chips as soon as they quit smoking, since the dryer the sausages get, the less the smoke will penetrate the meat. Expect smoking to take 6 hours and leave the meat inside another six with no pan on the burner.
Collagen casings are permeable to smoke, making them a good candidate for this recipe.
*Plug for my favorite model: There are a million different smokers on the market, but Luhr-Jensen makes by far the best I have ever found. They have a few models, and all are outstanding. They are all electric, which is the best suited for this process. Propane models might be ok, but charcoal is a hassle and gets too hot and too cold, and the wood burning type are hard to control.
The Luhr-Jensen models can be used for smoke flavoring and preservation. Perfect for what we are doing. I have smoke flavored foods as varied as pork chops, nuts, turkey and macaroni noodles, and smoke preserved (hard-cured) salmon, beef jerky, and other meats.