Are you tired of the processed and flavorless bologna slices from your childhood? If so, it’s time to learn how to make delicious homemade smoked ring bologna from scratch. Packed with great fat content and particle definition, this coarse-cut country-style ring bologna is perfect for frying in the pan. Imagine indulging in fried bologna medallions for breakfast or savoring pickled bologna as a snack. And let’s not forget about candied bologna with BBQ sauce, butter, and brown sugar on the grill. Get ready to elevate your bologna game!
What is Ring Bologna?
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s explore the origins of ring bologna. Bologna owes its name to its Italian ancestor, mortadella. Originally hailing from Bologna, Italy, mortadella is a thick Italian sausage speckled with pieces of fat, peppercorns, and sometimes pistachios or green olives. When Italian immigrants introduced bologna to the United States in the 1800s, it underwent various transformations, including the emulsified and sliced Oscar Meyer version of ring bologna that we know today.
Unlike traditional deli-style bologna chubs, ring bologna has a smaller diameter, typically around 40-43mm. Derived from German ringwurst, it is packed into sausage casings formed into loops, allowing for easy hanging in a smokehouse. Ring bologna is commonly served sliced on the bias and pan-fried until crisp, added to casseroles, or pickled for a delicious snack.
Now that we have the background covered, let’s embark on the journey of making homemade bologna.
Tools of the Trade
To create your own mouthwatering ring bologna, you’ll need a few essential tools:
- Meat Grinder with 3/8” and 3/16” plates
- Meat Mixer or Your Hands
- Meat Lug or Large Food-Safe Container
- Stuffer (13 or 16mm horn)
Meat (and Fat) Instructions
To achieve the perfect meat-to-fat ratio for your bologna, we recommend a blend of 70% pork and 30% beef, or a range of 25-30% fat and 70-75% lean. However, feel free to experiment with variations such as venison or other wild game. If you’re using venison, we suggest combining it with 50% pork trim that has a 50% fat content. You can find pork trim, usually from the shoulder or butt, at your local butcher shop.
Grinding Ring Bologna
For the coarse cut texture that makes ring bologna so delightful, we grind the meat twice. The first pass should be through a 3/8” plate, followed by a second pass through a 3/16” plate. Remember to keep your sausage stick’s meat cold during the grinding process to prevent smearing.
Ring Bologna Seasoning
To simplify the seasoning process, we have created bologna mixes based on tried-and-true Old World recipes. For a classic ring bologna flavor, we recommend our No. 211 Blue Ribbon Bologna Seasoning or the MSG-free version, No. 665 Bologna Seasoning. If you’re feeling adventurous, try our No. 958 Red Barn Bologna Seasoning, which adds heat, garlic, and spices for bold flavors and vibrant color. Another option is No. 317 German Bologna Seasoning, which incorporates mustard seeds for a ringwurst flavor. All our bologna seasonings include cure for up to 25 lbs. of meat, preserving its color and ensuring safety.
Mixing & Protein Extraction
Once you’ve ground the meat and added the seasoning, it’s time to mix everything together. You can choose to mix by hand or use a meat mixer. Since we’re aiming for a coarse cut bologna, mixing by hand until protein extraction is achieved is perfectly acceptable. The end result should be sticky, pasty meat with well-incorporated seasonings.
You have two options for casing your ring bologna: natural or collagen casings. Natural casings are edible and provide a pleasant bite, while collagen casings are easier to handle and ensure uniformity. Here are the recommended sizes:
- 40mm Collagen Tied Rounds
- 43mm Collagen Tied Rounds
- Natural Beef Rounds (40-43mm)
To attain the perfect flavor and texture, follow this smoking schedule:
- Set your smokehouse to 120°F and hang the ring bologna for 1 hour for drying (no smoke).
- Increase the temperature to 170°F, add sawdust for smoke, and smoke for 3 hours.
- Raise the temperature to 185°F and remove the smoke.
- Cook until the internal temperature reaches 156°F.
- Submerge the ring bologna in an ice bath until the internal temperature reaches 110°F, then refrigerate.
Once cooled, wait until the smoked bologna reaches an internal temperature of 39 degrees before vacuum packing or storing. Properly sealed and packaged, smoked bologna can last in the freezer for several months or in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Enjoy Your Homemade Ring Bologna!
Congratulations on your fresh batch of smoked bologna! Now, let’s explore the multitude of delicious possibilities. Transform your homemade ring bologna into mouthwatering treats like sweet and smoky Candied Bologna, tangy Pickled Bologna, or even a classic Fried Bologna Sandwich. The possibilities are endless!
Remember, if you’re looking for more culinary inspiration or quality ingredients, be sure to visit Ekilove. Happy cooking!