If you haven’t eaten sausage lately, you don’t know what you have been missing. Succulent-tasting meats, fruity flavors and spices hot enough to make you sweat are all part of the new wave of sausage making.
These days, along with Polish sausage and bratwurst are creations like the chicken-jalapeño and roasted red pepper sausage or sausage stuffed with feta cheese and spinach. There seems to be no shortage of combinations that butchers, chefs and even college students have made into sausage.
“There is just something about a good-tasting sausage,” says Anna Tasier, a partner in The Meat Market in Clovis. “And we have seen interest growing over the last couple of years.”
When The Meat Market opened its Clovis location at 1990 N. Fowler Ave., Tasier installed an 8-foot-long meat case just for the sausage. The case carries a rotating supply of nine different sausages, all made by the store’s butchers. Inside the case are classics like German-style bratwurst and one of their more popular, the chicken-jalapeno sausage — an explosion of flavor and heat. The Meat Market makes more than 30 different sausages.
Tasier and others say that driving that growth is the popularity of the food networks, the rising interest in how food is prepared and the desire for something new and different.
Tasier says that although she prefers to grill sausage, cooks can also bake it. It works great as a sandwich, appetizer or added into pasta sauces, stews or soups. The different flavor profiles give you an opportunity add a unique taste to your dish.
“One of the things I like to remind people is to use sausage just like any other meat,” she says. “You can even take it out of the casing and make a patty out of it.”
If you do prefer grilling, cook your sausage over median-high heat until the outside is nicely browned, but not burned. Turn often and keep on the grill until the skin is taunt, not soft. If you have a meat thermometer, cook until the internal temperature is 145 to 150 degrees.
Make it yourself
Also adding to sausage’s comeback are innovative butchers and the do-it-yourself movement that is filling up sausage-making classes.
At Chase’s Chop Shop in Madera, owner Scott Chase also specializes in sausage making. The butchers at Chase’s, 412 W. Olive Ave., make more than 50 different sausages combinations, including their award-winning feta, roasted pepper and swiss Italian and German sausage. Chase also makes seasonal sausages. During Thanksgiving they stuffed pork sausage with cranberry and pecans.
Inside their meat case recently was a jalapeño-cheddar-Sicilian sausage and apricot-jalapeno-chicken sausage.
Chase says his customers are always coming in curious to see what he and his butchers come up with.
“People are looking for the latest thing and they know we will always have something interesting,” Chase says.
The butcher shop recently hosted a sausage-making class that was filled to capacity. The class made several sausages, including a linguica, fennel and a lamb sausage called merguez. Another class will be held on Sunday, June 14.
Frederic Martin, an organizer of the class, says the class attracted a cross section of people, from those wanting to learn about making their own food to food enthusiasts who want to impress their friends with their sausage-making skills.
“They want something amazing that they can show off at the next big barbecue,” Martin says with a laugh.
Fresno State has also jumped on the sausage-making trend. The students in the Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education’s meat lab have created about 20 different sausages, several that are sold at the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market, 5368 N. Chestnut Ave.
Among the best-sellers are a spicy sausage called the bulldog pepper jack, the fiesta cheddar that includes salsa flavors and the cowboy sausage, a breakfast type sausage with cayenne pepper and bacon.
Chance Reeder, student manager of the meat lab, says the students have also produced seasonal sausages that have become favorites, including the cheddar, beer bratwurst and the chicken enchilada.
“I love eating sausage sandwiches,” Reeder says. “And the great thing about making so many different flavors is that if I get tired of one, I’ll just switch to another.”
If you go
Sausage 101: Sausage making from start to finish.
Sunday, June 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Chase’s Chop Shop, 412, W. Olive Ave., Madera.
Cost is $85 per person. Lunch is included and you take home five pounds of sausage.
To buy tickets go to www.sausage101.com or call (559) 662-1119.
Beer-simmered grilled sausages
3 pounds uncooked sausages, such as sweet or hot Italian sausages, chorizo, linguica, hot link or any other of your favorite sausage.
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cups beer, as needed
About 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Prick each sausage a half-dozen times with a needle or pin stuck in a cork. Arrange the onion slices on the bottom of a sauté pan just large enough to hold all the sausages. Place the sausages on top and add beer and water to cover (the ratio should be about 3 parts beer to 1 part water). Place the pan over medium heat and gradually bring the liquid to a simmer, not a rapid boil. Poach the sausages until half-cooked, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a rack on a baking sheet to drain or drain in a colander. Separate the sausages into links.
Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Lightly brush the sausages on all sides with oil and place on the hot grate. Grill until the casings are crisp and nicely browned and the sausages are cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side. You may want to rotate the sausages 90 degrees after 2 minutes on each side to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. Should flare-ups arise, move the sausages to a different section of the grill.
Transfer the sausages to plates or a platter and let rest for 3 minutes before serving. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes or even pasta.
From Chase’s Chop Shop