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Texas Sausages


fifi
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Kent Wang reported on his visit to Austin's First Annual Texas Barbeque Festival here. The theme was Texas sausages. Oddly enough, I searched and didn't find a topic that focuses on a Texas culinary tradition. I did start a topic a couple of years ago on Hot Links but that discussion is just on one specific version of this large and varied subject.

A lot of folks may not realize that Texas has benefitted from a large scale immigration from Germany, Czechoslovakia and other similar European cultures in the early and later 19th century. Texas was sparsely populated and immigration was encouraged, first by the Mexican government, then the Republic of Texas and finally the US. That need for settlers coincided with economic and political difficulties in Europe so we received their rich culinary traditions. Sausages were a big part of that. Beef was predominate earlier on but pigs, sometimes wild, were available as well. Then you had to do something with the venison that Cousin Harry shot.

In recent years, football heroes, country singers and just about everyone's uncle have gotten into the act. Some of these companies have grown into sizeable businesses. Then, even more recently, sausages have taken "creative" turns. (I suspect a California Contamination Syndrome. :laugh: ) But, there are some really interesting varieties popping up. Along the way, we enthusiastically adopted sausage making traditions from our Italian contingent and from our Mexican friends to the south of the border. You can find some mighty fine versions of sweet and hot Italian sausages pretty commonly. Mexican chorizo is rampant and mostly very good. It has its own personality versus Spanish chorizo. A breakfast taco with chorizo crumbles is a homegrown treat as far as I can tell but has spread pretty widely.

We need a place to discuss these treasures, and maybe disappointments, so here it is. I like to make note of several aspects of the sausage: ingredients, seasoning, texture, casing, and lets not forget methods of cooking. History and origins, if known are always interesting.

Read. Chew. Discuss.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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A place I forgot to mention on the other thread is Peterek's . I found this place last year on the advice of a friend. Out in the country east of Belton.

Don't know how long they've been there, but it's a small place that puts out some great meat. They make a great hot link, along with weiners, jerky, summer sausage, etc.

(Just clicked on my own link to test, and right up front, it says they've been there since 1958. Guess I should pay more attention.) :blush:

Edited by Tremor (log)
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Thanks for starting this thread Fifi! My family has been making sausage seasonally for ourselves for decades. Usually, this is after or during deer season in South Texas. Deer and pork has always been the family preference. When I was a child, dad would always wait until he had the right amount of deer meat and wild hog in the freezer. A lot of years we wouldn't make sausage at all since dad's not the most prolific hunter, much less being able to get both deer AND wild hog. These days, my brother is the hunter (dad still manages to get one every now and again), and so we usually have deer meat ready, but we've given up the hassle of the wild hog....a trip to the local HEB usually winds up with some boston butts and extra fat, if needed.

My brother is the keeper of the recipe so I don't have exact quantities to share today (the origin of our current recipe is from a "Bohemian" friend of the family that lives down the road from my parents), and I basically just come down and show him how to add extra flavor without "changing" the recipe. :wink: The list of ingredients is very short and simple: half pork, half deer, fresh garlic, salt, black pepper, and chili petins. My "cityboy" influences are to 1) mince the garlic in the cuisinart and then add the kosher salt to make a dry paste; 2) buy high quality whole black peppercorns and grind them right before using (I like the ones from Whole Foods); 3) combine the seasonings in pre-measured batches to make sure everything is equally seasoned. The first year that we did this, I didn't bring enough whole peppercorns and had to resort to that red and white can of pre-ground pepper. My brother, the, umm, "purist" that he is :wink: was convinced he wouldn't be able to tell a difference and that I wasted money. So I made sure that we kept the batches separate so he could taste the red-and-white-can batch, and the fresh ground Whole Foods peppercorns. My way won hands down and he hasn't doubted me since. :raz:

And as much as I'd like to take all the credit for the some recent great batches of sausage, my brother gets much more of the credit. He and dad have converted an old building on my grandfather's ranch into our sausage making room, and converted the building next to it into our smoke house. They've acquired some old electric sausage grinders (the heavy duty ones) and fixed them up. So now, when it's time to make sausage, we are committing to a full-day project. Our usual quantity is to start with about 100 to 150 lbs of meat, and work in 10 lb batches (I believe). The meat starts as large chunks of meat ground once very coarsely, then mix in the seasonings. A second time through the grinder and we are ready to stuff (I believe we use the coarse grind both times). Last year we used one of the hand crank stuffers for the first time, and it worked very well....put the seasoned meat into the large barrel container, close lid, crank handle around the top to push the lid down and squeeze the sausage through the tube. Before, we always let the electric grinder also do the stuffing, but this sometimes would feed the meat too fast to get evenly stuffed links (remember, we only do this like once a year, so it's hard to master this with the fast stuffing machine).

For us, making sausage really becomes a family event. Dad or my brother is feeding the meat into the long casings (the kind packed in water available at HEB), I usually try to get the job of spinning the stuffed casings into large wheels of sausage (the easy job), and then mom and anyone else we can recruit are taking the long wheels and cutting them into links, then tying the ends with twine loops to hang in the smoke-house. Brother handles the smoke house piece, so I don't have any details of that to share...sorry.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of smoked sausage, so I usually set aside "pan sausage" (ground, seasoned, but not stuffed into casings) in ziptop bags and take home to freeze. This irritates my brother to no end, but I'm not making him take his portions this way, so I don't understand the frustration. :wink:

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a breakfast taco with chorizo crumbles is a homegrown treat as far as I can tell but has spread pretty widely.

Read. Chew. Discuss.

Would the chorizo left in the pan be gibbles by any chance? :rolleyes:

I understand that both Bigger's and South Side in Elgin are no more. City Market in Giddings, Bertsch's in Fayetteville, and Chorizo de San Manuel, in San Manuel, Tx all produce great sausage. I'll have to check w/Kuby's in Dallas, but I believe they no longer make any of their vast array of German specialties in house.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Great story, nacho. My dad would make sausage occasionally just for the fun of it but just in small batches. He used the attachment on the KitchenAid stand mixer to stuff but his old hand crank grinder to grind the meat. We left a lot of that for pan sausage. You could always count on Sunday breakfast having biscuits and gravy with the gravy made in the plan with plenty of "gibbles." :laugh:

Funny thing is, after I posted, I remembered that I had about a pound of bulk chorizo that I got at the gringo butcher shop on Kirby Drive off of NASA Road 1. I think the name is something generic like Bay Area Meat Market. They have pretty nice meat and do a lot of their own sausage, some of it pretty good, so I decided to try the chorizo. They use good pork (no lips and lymph nodes), paprika, garlic, vinegar and salt. So far so good. As it was frying off, it looked a little anemic. I tasted it. Seeing the Szeged Hot Paprika can off to my left, I had to add a ton to get it right. I also ended up adding some Penzey's granulated garlic. Finally I had a more or less worthy pan of chorizo. Wrapped in a tortilla with some crema and lime juice pickled onion, it made a passable lunch. Moral of the story . . . Don't try to get proper chorizo in a gringo market. :laugh:

But you have to read the label so you don't get the lips and lymph nodes.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Great story, nacho. My dad would make sausage occasionally just for the fun of it but just in small batches. He used the attachment on the KitchenAid stand mixer to stuff but his old hand crank grinder to grind the meat. We left a lot of that for pan sausage. You could always count on Sunday breakfast having biscuits and gravy with the gravy made in the plan with plenty of "gibbles."  :laugh:

The grinder and sausage stuffer Kitchen Aid attachments are on my Santa list this year . :hmmm: I can't wait to start making homemade sausage whenever I feel like it.

I should have added in my original post that it's disappointing to see all of these old school sausage makers disappearing and that old world expertise lost. Growing up in Goliad, Tx, there was a mom-and-pop run grocery store in that small town called Ressman's (not sure if that spelling is correct)...I remember it was always a treat as a kid to get some of their own store made dried sausage for snacking. Now that building is a Super S and who knows what's coming out of that meat department. My great grandfather, who was himself a butcher of German heritage, would be sorely disappointed. As fifi said, GET A ROPE!! :angry:

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  • 2 years later...

Great topic. Texas sausage makers are too often overlooked as an important part of our culinary heritage.

My current favs are the dry sausages from Maeker's and Patek's in Shiner. I also like Vincek's in East Bernard and Austin's in Eagle Lake.

Locally I know B&W on North Shepherd makes a wide variety of sausages and Guy's on OST makes some good ones.

Let's not forget the Cajun sausage makers too. I like Veron's up in the Atascocita area - very good andouille, crawfish and pork and venison and pork. Just realized I've never tried their boudin. Their stuff used to be carried at Spec's downtown (a small selection) but I haven't seen it in a while. The guy told me Spec's would never notify him when they were out so he'd have to drive in to town to check for himself.

Burt's on Lyons has great boudin, ready to eat or take home and heat yourself. Hebert's Specialty Meats with three locations around town also makes their own boudin.

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