Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Traditional Corned Beef & Smoked Pastrami

This St. Patrick’s Day, all of us here at the Sausage Maker ask you to keep one thing in mind: You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy some delicious homemade corned beef! This old-time favorite is quite easy to make at home with just a couple of convenient ingredients. Follow our recipe below for a traditional treat that'll have the whole crowd's mouths watering.

Note: You can also make a delicious pastrami with this method; you’ll just smoke the meat instead of boiling it.


Ingredients:
~10lbs meat of your choice (see below)
1lb corned beef cure (product #11-1112)
¼ cup pickling spice (product #10-1093)
8 quarts cold water
Hickory or apple wood chips (if preparing as pastrami)
Briner or food-safe plastic container

The Choice of Meat
The classic choice for corned beef is, of course, beef! To be more specific, most traditional cooks use beef brisket. But if you’re feeling a little adventurous this year, there are plenty of other meat choices too! The Sausage Maker’s founder, Rytek Kutas, spent years testing all sorts of cuts and kinds of meats to take the guesswork out and leave you more time to chow down. A few favorites of his for corning include venison, elk or moose shoulder roasts and, believe it or not, turkey thighs come out fantastic. All four choices are leaner options too, which means you can eat even more.

The Brining Process
Start by mixing all the brine ingredients together thoroughly. Place the meat in the brine, making sure it is fully submerged. Store under refrigeration for three days for roasts under 3” thick, and add an additional 24 hours of curing time for each inch of roast after that. InstaCure is already included in our Sausage Maker corned beef cure, which means the meat will take on a fantastic pinkish tint as it cooks.

The Cooking of the Feast
Speaking of cooking, we should clarify just how long to boil it. The answer? A while. Remember, these are roasts we’re talking about! An hour per pound is the general rule of thumb. Slice meat razor thin and against the grain. Using a deli slicer makes things look even more top-notch. Turkey thighs will be faster to cook, right around an hour of boiling time. Serve on the bone or carve up as you see fit.

The Pastrami Connection
For those interested in making pastrami, you'll cure the meat the same way but soak the roast under refrigeration overnight to draw out a little excess salt. Pat the roast dry using clean paper towels. Rub down the roast with spices or a rub as you see fit. Coarse black pepper and ground mustard are excellent spice choices.

Place an aluminum pan filled with 1-2” water on a shelf directly under the meat to catch drippings and keep things more humid in the smoker. Smoke at 180-200°F with the chimney at least half open, using dampened hickory or apple wood for approximately four hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F for beef (165°F for poultry or game meat). Wrap the roast in foil to keep juices from dripping out and the surface from drying.

The Steam Step
Now it’s time for steam. Swap the wood chips for water in your sawdust pan and bring the temperature up to 200°F to turn the smoker into a sauna. Cook another 2 or 3 hours or until the internal temperature hits 180°F (or close). The roast was done safe at 145°F; it’s all about tenderness at this point. That’s it! Slice thin against the grain, just as you would for corned beef.

Enjoy it, savor it, you did it yourself!
-John French

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What to Do with Extra Game?



Hunting seasons for most types of game are coming to an end, and we at the Sausage Maker hope it’s been as successful a season for you as it has been for us. You might have brought home many pounds of delicious venison, pheasant, elk, rabbit or whatever game suits your fancy. You’ve made delicious stews, dried jerky and pot roasts. But now you’re faced with a dilemma.

What should you do with all the extra game sitting in your freezer? If you’re handy in the kitchen and feeling adventurous, you could try making a sausage that features an unusual protein, like duck or elk. You could, of course, give some of it to family and friends, but there is only so much you can give before they start avoiding your calls and calling you the “meat guy.” No worries! There is an easy way to donate extra game meat to families in need.

As most of you know, it’s illegal to market and sell your wild game because of state laws aimed at preventing poaching. But several nonprofit organizations in popular hunting states exist to help you offload some of your meat legally and charitably. Check out Hunters for the Hungry, founded in 1991, and Sportsmen Against Hunger (this links to the Michigan chapter, but several others are established across the country).

It’s an easy donation process. Just take your legally harvested, field-dressed deer to a participating meat processor or specified collection point and fill out a form stating you’re donating your game. From there, the meat is processed and given to local feeding programs so it can be delivered to food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens.

If neither of these organizations are in your state, there are similar programs that will allow you to donate meat to local food banks or churches. You may have to pay a processing fee, but it’s tax deductible.

Your contribution, no matter the size, makes more of a difference than you may think. Across the U.S. every year, more than 400 million pounds of meat is donated to food pantries, food banks and soup kitchens, providing 1.6 billion meals for families in need. This couldn’t be possible without the thoughtfulness and generosity of hunters like you. If you have extra game in your freezer that you have no use for, don’t throw it away! Do some good that’ll leave you feeling good too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sausage Spices & Seasonings 101

Spices and seasonings are what give sausage its tasty zing and help differentiate between distinct types of sausage. For example, chorizo is essentially the same thing as Polish sausage until you change up the way it’s seasoned. Not all flavors are suitable for all palates, but there are a few spices that are common enough to be in every sausage maker’s pantry. Below is our vital list of spices and seasonings for sausage recipes.



Salt: While salt may seem like an ordinary ingredient, it is essential to sausage making. Plenty of different kinds of salt are available, but you’ll want to be sure to use one that is free of additives—most table salt includes iodine as well as some chemicals that allow it to flow freely out of the shaker. Pickling salt is one of the best kinds to use for sausage making. It dissolves fast and is free of additives, plus it adds lots of flavor to the dish. It also aids in the curing process and provides firmness. Sausage needs salt to hold water and add juiciness. Most sausages contain 1.5 to 2 percent salt. Make sure to keep your salt content under 5 percent, as any higher than that will make your meat too salty.

Pepper: This spice is just as ordinary as salt and as necessary. If you want a more peppery sausage, consider buying the whole seed variety and grind it up fresh just before adding it to your meat mixture. Coarse ground black pepper is generally used when making blood sausage, fresh sausage or Polish sausage, while finely ground white pepper is best for other kinds like bologna, hot dogs and Krakowska sausage.

Whole cumin seeds
Cumin: Cumin comes from the Apiaceous family and is a close relative of coriander, dill and anise. For maximum flavor, use freshly ground cumin, but keep in mind that its taste is strong, so it can take over a dish pretty easily. Use it when you’re making an Armenian-style sausage like red soujouk or a Middle Eastern variety such as makanek. Cumin is also used in lots of Mexican and Asian sausages.

Garlic: When adding garlic to your sausage, fresh is always the best choice because of the better smell, taste and texture. However, fresh garlic doesn’t last long once you’ve chopped it, so depending on how you’ll be making your sausage, granulated may be your only option. If you buy a toasted version of granulated garlic, then the sausage will have a smoky flavor. In many recipes, granulated and fresh garlic can be swapped out as needed. You can even use them in the same quantities, making the choice a matter of personal preference. Add garlic to your fermented Thai nham sausage or Andouille.

Dried and ground cayenne pepper
Cayenne: This chili pepper measures between four and 12 inches long, thin and with a spicy flavor. Its degree of hotness will depend on where it’s grown. Cayenne that is grown in a hot, dry environment will be hotter than peppers grown in wet, cool climates. Use cayenne for your hot Italian sausage and your Andouille.

Sage: This leaf comes from the mint family and looks like a shrub with a woody stem and purple flowers. Sage is fragrant with a distinctive odor you’ll recognize when you smell it. Its taste tends to be somewhat bitter and strong. Because of this, it's best to use sage sparingly to keep it from overpowering your dishes. Most sausage makers use sage in breakfast sausage.

Mace: Originating from the same tree as nutmeg and offering a lemony, warm flavor, mace
Dried mace
is a seasoning that many sausage chefs add to the meat mixture. In the food world, mace is considered a savory spice. Because it does have a strong flavor, use it in moderation to prevent it from overpowering your other sausage ingredients. Use mace when you’re making homemade bratwurst and wieners.

Fennel: The fennel plant features a mild flavor that is likely to remind you of licorice. Fennel is the dominate flavor in Italian sausage and the one that gives the meat its tasty punch. Fennel seeds are in the spice category while the roots, leaves and stalks of the plant are considered an herb. Use fennel when making any variety of Italian sausage including sweet, medium or hot.

Cilantro leaves and ground coriander
Coriander: Coriandrum sativum is a plant that produces both a spice and an herb. The leaves of the plant produce cilantro, while its dry fruits are the coriander seeds. Coriander’s flavor is citrusy and curry-like. Use it to make dried South African droëwors sausage or mettwurst.

Ginger: With its spicy flavor and ability to merge with other spices, ginger is a popular sausage ingredient. Its peppery, warm taste features a slight punch of lemon, and you’ll need to use it when you’re making salami and bratwurst. It’s also common in cervelet and thuringer sausages.

With the right spices and seasonings, your sausages can take on a whole new level of flavor. You might even create a signature dish! Share your favorite sausage spice combinations with us on our sausage making forum or on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Great DIY Food Gifts for the Holidays

When the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year are fast approaching, many of us start suffering from the same stressful question: What to give to that person who has everything? Well, we at the Sausage Maker love being the bearers of good news, so here’s some now:

Everyone eats food. And if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve got at least a touch of the DIY bug in you, so you’re in luck. DIY food gifts almost never fail to impress even the most discerning gift recipient (assuming everything comes out tasting right), and we’ve got a
Kit: $59.99 at the Sausage Maker
few ideas as to how you can make your own edible gifts to be enjoyed over the holidays or any time of year. The best part is that these DIY foods can usually be made in large batches, so you can handle all your gift-giving dilemmas in one fell swoop.

The cold-weather holidays, from Thanksgiving all the way to New Year’s, are joyous occasions meant for celebrating with friends and family. What better way to celebrate than with an ice-cold beer? Or even better, a beer, wine or cider (or perhaps something a little stronger) that’s been handmade with love? Pre-assembled kits are great for beginners, but if you’re looking to take your craft to the next level, try experimenting with new ingredients. Cranberries, oranges and pears are all in season in winter, and switching up the hop variety in a tried-and-true recipe can add a new twist as well. Give away bombers and enjoy them with the boys while you’re watching the Christmas day game, or while you’re listening to Aunt Eleanor tell her favorite story for the umpteenth time. Just remember to drink responsibly!

Perhaps giving everyone a good buzz this holiday season isn’t quite your style. For an edible gift that’s both versatile and unexpected, consider making something that comes pickled and in an easy-to-wrap jar. With a fermentation kit, you can make homemade pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, okra and countless other tasty snacks your family and friends
Kit: $24.99 at the Sausage Maker
can enjoy. They’ll love the unorthodox foods you’ll be able to make, and they’ll appreciate you considering their health. The bacteria produced by fermentation has been shown to 
contribute to healthy digestion and very happy tummies. Overall, a real win-win for everyone involved.

By far our favorite DIY food idea for this holiday season is homemade summer sausage. It’s cured, fermented for tanginess and full of flavors that are great for cold weather—don’t let the name fool you. Summer sausage is a perfect complement to cheese, crackers and wine for your recipients who love putting together a good charcuterie sampler. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who’s never had a homemade summer sausage before. If it’s coming from you, the family sausage expert, they’ll be happy to dig in!

This holiday season, we’re making summer sausage gifting extra fun with our new Christmas-themed sausage casings. They come in bundles of five and three festive designs. These casings aren’t edible, but they do look great under the tree or decorating the hors d’oeuvre table at a holiday party. For seasoning, you can’t go wrong with a classic summer sausage blend. Our spice selection even lets you put a new twist on your favorite recipe, and you can gift our seasonings too once your newly converted summer sausage-loving relative has fallen in love with the taste.

$4.99/pack at the Sausage Maker

Visit us on Facebook to tell us all about your favorite holiday food gifts and traditions. And from all of us at the Sausage Maker, have a safe and happy holiday season!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

DIY Dry Curing: How to Make Salami


The Art of Dry Curing Meats

Traditional dry curing techniques date back thousands of years and were used simply to preserve meat as long as possible. It was quickly realized that salting meats and hanging them in certain areas preserved them for longer periods of time. What was actually happening was the salt drew moisture out to the surface and rapidly restricted available water internally, lowering what is called water activity (Aw). Back in the old days, they didn’t know about bacteria, good or bad, and didn’t know that salt has many trace minerals such as sodium nitrite, which helped to cure the meats. This is why modern recipes add sodium nitrite (Insta Cure™ #2) as an additional ingredient, because most processed salts today have trace minerals removed (nitrite included).

The cool, humid and gentle breezes typically associated with naturally good areas for dry curing are very difficult to duplicate at home. Depending on the recipe, temperatures need to fluctuate from 50-90°F and relative humidity from 65-90%, which, for most, likely means heating and cooling, humidifying and dehumidifying. The risks involved in not maintaining proper conditions can be serious, so the art of dry curing has been mostly lost in modernity. In the last 10-15 years, there has been a surge of interest in traditional food preservation and this old style of salami-making has seen a very welcome comeback!

Salami can be prepared in either fresh/cooked, smoked or dry-cured varieties. Dry-cured salami (the kind we’re making in this tutorial) is ready to eat once it’s properly fermented and aged, while the fresh variety must be cooked beforehand. Fresh/cooked and smoked salamis do not have long shelf lives and should be consumed shortly after cutting (unless vacuum sealed and/or frozen). Dry-cured salami has a prolonged shelf life, famously rich aroma, unmatched sliceability and a flavor that is developed, savored and remembered. For all tools and ingredients listed throughout this tutorial, part numbers can be found in parentheses for easy location on our website. Let’s learn how to age salami!


Parts/Equipment We Used:

#12 electric meat grinder (15-1111)
5 lb. sausage stuffer (18-1011)
2x meat lug (16-1023)
Roast tyer, 86 mm (11-1710)
Sausage pricker (17-2519)
pH strips (3.9–5.7 range) (11-1521)
Twine (14-1812)
Cutting board (14-1324)
Soehnle 33 lb. scale (21-1012)
Plastic wrap
Sterile/clean plastic/foam cups

Needed for Recipes:

For smaller diameter salami:
Sopressata sausage seasoning (12-1037)
Insta Cure™#2 (11-1016)
47 mm dia. pre-tied collagen casings (17-1711)
Bactoferm™ T-SPX (11-1311)

For larger diameter salami:

Pre-Prep Work

At least 2-3 hours prior to meat prep, take 1 cup of tepid 4 oz. distilled water (plastic, glass or foam cups are okay. Must be unused/clean). Open Bactoferm™ T-SPX and place 1 level tsp. of culture for every 10 lbs. of meat in a cup of water. Swish it around and stir it with a sterile spoon or utensil to blend it thoroughly. Quickly close the tops of the cups with plastic wrap to prevent contamination. Push out any air in the Bactoferm™ packet, sealing the opening with tape or vac-seal if possible, and put it back into the freezer (close to the vents, the colder the better). Remove your hairnet, protective eyewear, nitrile gloves and lab coat (just kidding). If you need to mix more than 1 tsp. Bactoferm™ T-SPX (making more than 10 lbs.), then add 1-2 oz. of distilled water to the cup for each consecutive 10 lbs. being added. Too much water will overly dilute the culture solution. 

If you want to also add the beneficial-mold surface that is often seen on salami in old salumerias and NYC delis, here’s what you do: Buy a spray bottle, mix 1 tsp. of Bactoferm™ Mold-600 with 6-8 oz. of room-temperature distilled water in your spray bottle and let it sit for 1-2 hours in the bottle. Spray the salami surfaces once they are encased, hung up and ready for the fermentation stage.


The Grind

You’ll want to grind lean meat separate from fat where possible. We suggest buying Boston butt (shoulder) and trimming it very neat for your “lean,” which will still be 10-15% fat. For extra fatty chunks, you can either retain the shoulder’s fat cap or buy pork back fat (where available). Total fat content should be between 25-35% total weight. Grind your lean meat through a 1/4" plate and fat through a 3/8” plate.

Mix Together

Use a recipe and ingredients from a trusted source (your neighbor’s Italian grandpa doesn’t count) or one of our time-tested seasoning blends. Mix your seasoning and Insta Cure™ #2 together (2 tsp. per 10 lbs.), pour the seasoning over the meat/fat mixture and mix them in thoroughly. Now add the Bactoferm™ T-SPX water solution to the mixture and mix again. Don't add more water than what's in the culture solution.

Remember: Wear gloves throughout the process and change them often if you need to. Be careful not to allow for any bacteria contamination as it can result in a ruined batch of salami.

Stuffing Salami into Casings

Natural casings (beef middles, ideally) are excellent for breathability, elasticity, provide mold the best surface for growth and best adherence to meat during drying. We use flat collagen casings for their enhanced durability, ease of use and storage. Fibrous casings should be avoided as they need ideal conditions to not release from the meat (separation). Flat collagen casings do not need soaking; just wetting them is enough. Just a couple dunks in a bowl of tepid water will make them pliable enough to “accordion” comfortably onto the stuffing tube and will increase elasticity strong enough to withstand a tight stuff. Stuff your casings, tie off ends or clip with hog rings and pin-prick all visible air pockets. Be generous and pin-prick all over the sausage. If you have pre-tied casings (highly recommended), then you just need to clip/tie one end. Stuff one salami into a full-diameter stuffed ball, like an extra short salami. This is our chub. We’ll get back to him later.


Take the Weight

Weigh the salami and mark on a label or sheet of paper that particular salami’s initial weight. This is also commonly called the “green” weight. We will use this number to identify the salami’s progress and determine when it’s ready to take down for eating and hoarding (…or “storing”). This is a must! Don’t trust your senses; you cannot gauge doneness accurately by sight or checking firmness/elasticity. It’s like a BBQ guru who puts his thumb against a loin chop and says, “They’re ready!” Thermometers are easy to operate and cheap—why take the risk?

Where to Hang Your Salami

For fermentation and mold production, you need a warm (90-100°F) and very humid area (90-95%). Warmth is not hard to create. A kid-safe, small space heater or ceramic heat bulbs work great. Either way, place it a safe distance away to keep the area warm and not heat the sausage too much. For the high humidity, a cool-mist ultra-sonic humidifier is a must. Later you will need a cool (45-59°F) and slightly less humid area (70-75%).

Hang Your Salami


Remember the Mold-600? If you have that spray bottle handy, now’s the time to use it. Mist the mold solution up and down the salami. Give them a few good sprays each. Even if you aren’t adding mold (it’s not necessary), a fermentation stage is important for early microbiological stability. Hang the salami (including your softball-sized chub) in your controlled environment and bring the temp up to 90-100°F and humidity to 90-95%. This is the fermentation stage! Hold the sausage in this environment for 48 hours. Keep the mold solution in the spray bottle and in the freezer until later.

Why Make a Salami Test Chub?


A chub is a small sample of your product, stuffed to the full diameter of the sausages that you’re drying. Stuff it to a short length to reduce waste, since this will be thrown out after testing. This test chub will be used—you guessed it—to test the pH of your fermenting salami to determine whether it is in the correct acidic range, so that the sausage is fermenting properly.

After 48 hours of fermentation, remove the chub. Cut it in half. With clean/dry fingers, rip a 1-2” piece of the pH strip, scoop a little bit of the meat center and insert the pH strip. Hold it there for 30 seconds and check the color guide. The pH should have dropped down to 5.3 or lower. If higher, keep fermenting for an additional 6 hours to ensure proper acidity level. Throw away the chub; do not eat it. Once fermentation period is over, drop the temperature down to 50°F and humidity to 75% for the long drying period. Also, by this time, you should see excellent mold coverage (if applied earlier). At least 25% of surfaces should have spotting. If not, respray surface with a few mists of the remaining mold solution. This is the last spray (if needed). The solution should not be frozen again; discard the remainder down the drain and clean the bottle with hot, soapy water.


Checkups

In the first 1-2 weeks, you’ll want to check your environment rather frequently. If there are large variations in humidity and temperature, they’ll need to be corrected immediately. When making sausage like this at home and especially when you’re first learning how to cure salami, it’s important to do dry runs, test the environment and keep notes of all conditions. Even with immaculate cleanliness, your salami may develop unappealing mold on the surface. If this is the case, mix white vinegar and distilled water (1:1), moisten a clean cloth with it, and wipe the mold away. Use a little extra around the affected area. If dark/unwanted mold continues to come back and/or appears beneath the casing, the sausage should be discarded.

The Weigh-In!

Flash forward about 4 weeks for 47mm dia. sausage or 5-6 weeks for 65mm. Let’s take out one of those Italian baseball bats we call salami and weigh it. If it’s lost over 35% of its green weight and it was fermented, you could say it is ready to cut and inspect. If it’s lost less than 35%, leave it for another week and reweigh. Personally, we enjoy 40% loss for the best quality, but others dry even more! When you cut the salami open, the cross section should be roughly the same vibrant color throughout, aside from a bit darker purplish ring closest to the surface, which is normal. If the color is vibrant and dark towards the surface and light/grey/pale in the center, then something went wrong. In the latter case, the center will undoubtedly be moist, non-pliable and crumbly. This means that it didn’t make it. Don’t “give it a try” or claim to have an iron stomach. You can get very ill and so can others, so throw it out! If you see a nice, uniform, reddish (cured) color and a rubbery center, then it’s done, ready to slice thin and be savored.

Digital Dry-Curing Cabinet

The Sausage Maker is excited to announce the first large-capacity dry curing cabinet (often called a curing chamber) for home use. Perfect for the modern kitchen, office or man cave, watch plain salamis turn into artisanal charcuterie masterpieces. Dry curing is no longer limited to those who live in an ideal climate.

We at the Sausage Maker have built numerous dry curing cabinets over the years in an effort to find the best way to accurately regulate both temperature and humidity in a controlled and sanitary environment. Through all the lengthy engineering, testing and adjusting cycles, we have finally developed a dry curing cabinet that we can proudly offer to our customers. Now you can dry-age steaks or pork belly to enhance the flavor of choice cuts, hang sausage to make a traditionally preserved salami, capicola (coppa) or give your summer sausage or pepperoni sticks that tangy flavor through natural fermentation. Make traditionally fermented, dry-aged and preserved foods in your home, with the control and modern elegance of the Sausage Maker’s dry curing cabinet (11-1509. Ship by truck. $3,425.99).

Specs/Features:

Designed and assembled by the Sausage Maker
LCD capacitive-touch control panel
    Temperature range: 41–99°F (±2°F)
    Humidity range: 40–90% RH (±5% RH)
304 grade stainless steel interior
USA-made, whisper-quiet compressor
2-gallon water tank humidifier
Anti-microbial membrane
6 stainless steel v-sticks for hanging product
Carbon air filtration  
Removable s/s drip collector
UV-protective double-paned glass
Key-locking door
Miniature blue LED ceiling light
Water tank overload drainage

Learn more about dry curing and stock up on all your dry curing needs at our online store.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to Pair Beers & Sausage Like a Pro


It’s Oktoberfest season, which means we’ve got sausage and beer pairing on the brain (though really, when do we not?). But even when it’s not exactly the right time of year for your favorite German bier haus, it's never a bad time for beers and brats. In fact, according to figures compiled by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council—oh yes, you better believe it exists—dinner sausages have enjoyed unprecedented sales in the United States, hitting more than $3.85 billion in 2015. 

Creating the perfect pairing of a refreshing beer and a succulent sausage is more of a science than an art, though. You can't just mix whatever you like and expect an enjoyable match; trust us. After all, we're the sausage experts. 

For this edition of Sausages of the World, here are six of the best beers to serve with sausage this Oktober (or anytime).


French Andouille + Märzen

Originating in France, French immigrants brought Andouille to Louisiana and it has since become a staple in Cajun cuisine. This double-smoked sausage is made of pork from a Boston shoulder roast, garlic, onions, pepper, wine and other seasonings. 

Our Favorite Märzen for Andouille: Great Lakes Oktoberfest

Available exclusively in the fall, this Märzen brewed by the Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Ohio has an alcohol by volume of 6.5%. While some Märzen-style beers are either too malty or not balanced, this pick has the clean malt character you look for in a beer that pairs well with Andouille. Its bitterness is clean and not overpowering. 

Say cheers in French: Sante! (SAHN-tay)


German Currywurst + Weizenbock

This common fast food, which originated in Berlin in 1949, consists of fried pork sausage (the traditional German bratwurst) that's usually cut into slices, topped with curry powder and accompanied by a special curry ketchup. If you're a fan, there's even a museum in Berlin you can visit that's dedicated to the national German dish.

Our Favorite Weizenbock for Currywurst: High Point Ramstein Winter Wheat

Available in the winter and brewed by High Point Brewing Company in New Jersey, this German-style ale comes with an ABV of 9.5%, which is hidden well by the wonderful balance of its full caramel and chocolate malt flavors. It makes for the perfect match when enjoying a currywurst on a cold winter's day. 

Say cheers in German: Prost! (PROHST)


Italian Salami + Stout

Consisting of fermented and air-dried pork or beef, salami was popular among central and southern European peasants because it can be stored at room temperature for up to 40 days after being cut. While many European countries make their own traditional varieties of salami, the Italians sure have perfected this delicious deli favorite. 

Our Favorite Stout for Salami: Magic Hat Heart of Darkness

Brewed by the popular Magic Hat Brewing Company in Vermont, this English Stout has an ABV of 5.7% and is only available in winter. With a smooth palate and undercurrent of bittersweet chocolate, it complements the saltiness of this sausage well. For a full-bodied and well-rounded stout for your salami, look no further.

Say cheers in Italian: Salute! (sah-LOO-tay)


Mexican Chorizo + Lager


Like salami to Europe, there are many varieties of chorizo across Latin America, but Mexico has perfected the tastiest version. Because of the high cost of imported smoked paprika from Spain, Mexican chorizo is usually made with native chili peppers.

Our Favorite Lager for Chorizo: New Glarus Totally Naked

Brewed by the New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin, this American Pale Lager comes with an ABV of 4.25% and complements the spiciness of chorizo perfectly. Crisp and clean with a smooth and mellow body, this beer has just the right hint of light malt character for a hot chorizo.

Say cheers in Spanish: Salud! (sah-LOOD)

Polish Kielbasa + Pilsner

It's almost a crime not to include some type of Polish sausage on a list like this, considering it's a cuisine staple, comes in dozens of varieties and there are even government guides dedicated to different sausages. Kielbasa, which is often used in dishes during the holidays and at weddings, can be served in a variety of ways.

Our Favorite Pilsner for Kielbasa: Baderbräu Chicago Pilsner

When looking for the perfect beer to pair with kielbasa, a Czech Pilsner is a perfect match. Our favorite is brewed by the Baderbräu Brewing Company in Illinois and has an ABV of 4.8%. Considering Chicago is home to the world's largest Polish community outside of Warsaw, it almost seems fit this beer would make our list. The reborn brew and its extreme smoothness pair perfectly with any dish containing kielbasa.

Say cheers in Polish: Na zdrowie! (naz-DROH-vee-ay)


South African Boerewors + Witbier

When your taste buds think sausage, they usually salivate for the European and Latin American versions because of their widespread popularity, but let's not forget about the Boerewors sausage from South Africa. This sausage contains at least 90 percent meat, always with beef, as well as a combination of lamb, pork or a mixture of both. The rest consists of spices and other special ingredients. Want to make your own? Follow our recipe!

Our Favorite Witbier for Boerewors: Allagash White

When it comes to white beers that pair perfectly with this style of sausage, there’s no better option than this beer brewed by the Allagash Brewing Company in Maine. At an ABV of 5.1%, the interpretation of a traditional Belgian wheat beer contains a generous portion of wheat and is spiced with coriander and orange peel. Fruity and refreshing, you can't go wrong with this selection. 

Say cheers in Afrikaans: Gesondheid! (ge-SUND-hate)


Are you a beers 'n' brats aficionado? Leave a comment below and share your perfect pairing with the world, or share it with us on Facebook!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Sausage Maker Recommends: Butchers & Meat Markets


Let’s face it: Most of us have forsaken the friendly local butcher in favor of convenient chain grocery stores—sacrificing taste and customer experience in the process. The locavore movement is a growing population of eaters that bucks this trend by only consuming locally produced food. In order to stick it to the man (take that, Sam's Club!), we’re highlighting local, free-range butchers around the country that avoid chemicals, deliver quality and care and ensure the humane treatment of their animals.

Ethical dilemmas aside, undue stress in an animal’s environment can alter its pH level and taint the taste of its precious meat. We’re not advocating that you become a card carrying member of PETA, but you’ve got to be concerned about quality if you want your dishes to taste just right.

Frankly, a bland burger, steak or sausage is just the wurst, so here’s our list of eight locavore-approved meat markets that are a cut above their peers.

1.  Red Apron Butcher - Washington, DC

An urban-dwelling foodie’s paradise, Red Apron isn’t your traditional butcher shop.  Founder Nathan Anda has made his mark on DC by building lasting relationships with farmers in the area and selling in small batches. Make sure to get the pork when you visit, because Red Apron is America’s first butcher to source 100% of its pork from Animal Welfare Approved farms.

2.  Golden Gate Meat Company - San Francisco, CA

Voted San Francisco’s best butcher shop by SF Weekly, the GGMC is an old-fashioned meat market operated by the Offenbach family for nearly 40 years. GGMC boasts over a thousand natural and organic products, making it the perfect destination for meat lovers looking for variety. Be sure to check out their free-range Kobe beef—it comes from happy cows.

3.  The Local Pig - Kansas City, MO

A restaurant and butcher shop hybrid, the Local Pig is committed to providing meat lovers in Kansas City with humane, locally sourced fare. While the eatery is renowned for its “Pigwich” sandwich, the main attraction is the healthy selection of choice cuts sold over the counter.

Each Sunday, the Local Pig also offers a sausage making class, where you can learn how to put all your shiny new sausage making toys to use.

4.  Salt & Time - Austin, TX

Salt & Time is committed to bringing the best meat from Texas ranchers directly to hungry Austinites. They offer a wide assortment of cuts, sausages and ground meats to choose from as well as a monthly butcher’s box if you’d like to try a little of everything. If you’re feeling inspired after eating Salt & Time’s famous burgers in-restaurant, you can mimic them at home with one of our burger kits.    


Butcher & Larder proprietor Rob Levitt
5.  The Butcher & Larder - Chicago, IL

Another butcher-restaurant mash-up, the Butcher & Larder rules the Chicago meat scene and sources its food from Midwestern farms. Take advantage of Rob Levitt and his staff's’ expertise and ask for recommendations—they know protein inside and out.  

Pro tip: The restaurant is BYOB, so make sure to come prepared with a few cold ones.

6.  The St. Paul Meat Shop - St. Paul, MN

With meat sourced from seven nearby farms, the St. Paul Meat Shop practices whole-animal butchery and emphasizes sustainable practices. While the Twin Cities rave about their pastrami sandwiches, make sure to also check out their selection of brats and jerky.

7.  Dispenza’s Meat Market - Ransomville, NY

A family-run slaughterhouse with only four employees, Dispenza’s strives to emulate the charm of traditional meat markets. Just a short drive north of Buffalo, you’ll find specialty meats that aren’t at most grocery stores (jowl, cheek, primal cuts, etc.) alongside their more conventional products. Take family breakfast to new heights by snagging some of Dispenza’s fresh eggs and some thick-cut bacon for home curing.

8.  T-Meadow Farm - Lockport, NY

T-Meadow Farm has a very simple philosophy—they raise their swine “the way the pigs like it”. Using low-impact methods, T-Meadow rotationally grazes their livestock on sprawling pastures and refrains from the use of antibiotics. You can grab a whole cut of their pork at the Elmwood-Bidwell Market on Saturdays and grind the leftovers for safekeeping. If you want your pork cooked to perfection, you can also enjoy it at a handful of local eateries including the Black Sheep, Marble & Rye or Toutant. T-Meadow Farm holds a special place in our hearts for being close to home, and a special place in our stomachs for being downright delicious.

Do you have a favorite meat market or butcher in your area? Tell us about them in the comments below or share them on our Facebook page!