Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Dietary guidance: n g d
5 lbs 80% lean ground beef; don't use leaner, the fat cooks out
2-1/2 teas coarse ground pepper
2-1/2 teas garlic salt
2-1/2 teas mustard seed
2-1/2 teas liquid smoke
5 rounded Tablespoons Morton Tender Quick meat Curing Salt
Knead all ingredients together and refrigerate in large covered bowl. For each of the next 4 days knead it once a day for about 10 minutes. On the 5th day, the day of the last kneading, form into 5 small loaves and bake 9 hours at 160 degrees turning halfway through. When finished wrap loosely in paper towels to remove excess grease. Let cool to room temperature then wrap in waxed paper and plastic wrap.
On the 2nd or 3rd day the curing salt will start hardening the fat and your hands will be coated in about 1/8 inch of fat when you're done kneading. I just wash my hands and don't worry about removing the fat from the mix.
I mix until there is a uniform color from the surface of the mix that is exposed to air. It will take 10 minutes or more; by the time I'm done the mix has become much softer and malleable from the heat of my hands.
When baked the loaves will have a brown outside, but once you cut them they will be a uniform dark red inside. These freeze well so if you're not going to eat in the next month certainly freeze them without concern.