02 October 2009

Hank Ranks No. 28

My 9 Favorite Sausages

When it comes to meat, and you can bet yr ass I'm a carnivore, I eat an awful lot of sausages...They're tasty, they're versatile, they easily go mobile, and alot of 'em are pre-cooked for ease of use...and plenty of 'em, like Summer sausages, don't even need to be refrigerated...For a single guy like me, it's easy to slice some salami or braunschweiger for sandwiches, or grill up one or two hot dogs or bratwursts at a time for a quick and easy lunch with no leftovers...And almost nothing beats a big, fat kielbasa sweating in a bed of saurkraut and potatoes in a crockpot...Almost...


09: Venison Summer Sausage I come from a family of hunters, and here in Wisconsin, that means whitetail deer. Now, I never cared for venison steaks, or venison burgers, finding the meat a bit too "gamey", but dammit if I didn't love venison summer sausage, and to a lesser extent, venison jerky. It's all about the seasoning, heavy on the mustard seeds, black pepper and garlic.

08: Hungarian Winter Salami 100% pork seasoned mostly with white pepper and allspice, cured cold and smoked slow...Known for the mold on the outside of the casing. Even though this is a Hungarian salami, the Polish deli I used to go to (before it made way for a fucking Starbucks) often had this stuff...And it was good...An interesting alternative to regular store-bought hard salami.

07: Iron Sausage There is no such thing as "Iron Sausage", except in the lyrics of the Frank Zappa song, "The Torture Never Stops". And if I'm parsing the lyrics correctly, the "iron sausage" Frank mentions is some sort of torture device... "In the night of the iron sausage, where the torture never stops..."

06: Italian Sausage When it comes to pizza, I'm an Italian sausage guy all the way...Pepperoni is a salami, of course, but it just doesn't measure up to a fat chunk of sausage when it comes to pizza...Sausage and onions and black olives on a thin crust, which I believe is called "Portland-style". Otherwise, Italian Sausages are probably the second best grilling sausage after the venerable bratwurst.

05: Cumberland Sausage Cumberlands are long, curly pork sausages from Britain that are heavy on the pepper and often used for "bangers and mash", the popular British pub grub. Add some thick onion gravy, and what more needs to be said?

04: Braunschweiger Also known as liverwurst. Ahhh, soft smoked pork livers...Spread on toasted rye with a touch of mustard and a thick slice of Swiss cheese - delicious! The strange thing is, I vowed to never eat liver of the "liver'n'onions" variety once I left home, and I never have, but I sure do love liverwurst sandwiches. I almost always have Braunschweiger in the fridge.

03: Bockwurst Similar to bratwurst, except there is typically more veal than pork in the mixture, and just about any other type of ground meat can (and has) been substituted over the years, although I could never take a shine to any sausage made out of things like turkey or chicken, finding the idea just wrong. The other major difference between bockwurst and bratwurst is the fact that bockwurst is typically simmered, rather than grilled like brats. Great with mustard and originally created as a compliment to Bock beer, thus the name.

02: Wiejska Kielbasa A long, U-shaped pork and veal sausage known as "wedding sausage" in Poland. Seasoned heavily with garlic and marjoram, this is perfect for the crockpot in winter. Serve on a big plate with mashed potatoes and saurkraut, plus some horseradish - few things better on a long, long Sunday of NFL football...Aside from Chopin, perhaps Poland's greatest contribution to world culture.

01: N├╝rnberger Rostbratwurst The popular German version of what we call a "bratwurst" here in America...To me, it's the quintessential sausage, so tasty and versatile, and at least here in Wisconsin and the greater midwest, so pervasive. It always saddens me (yes saddens) when I travel around the western states to know that finding bratwurst is an oftentimes difficult task. Those people in California and Oregon have no idea what they're missing. Sausage of the gods...Sausage of the working man...

Hotcha! Hank

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