The Inner Workings of the New Sausage Showdown

The next big competition in the meat-making market? Sausage.

By Emily DonahueJune 15, 2015 10:54 am,

Back in the day, barbecue joints used to make or break their fame through their offerings of house-made specialty sausage. But distributors began selling sausage to a variety of producers, and that trend fell off the meat map. No so much any more. Texas Monthly’s Barbecue Editor, Daniel Vaughn says now it’s back on the menu.

“For so long barbecue joints – especially those in the meat market tradition – really made part of their reputation on how good their sausage was. You didn’t want to waste anything so you’re gonna grind up those scraps and put them in those casings, smoke ‘em up and sell them along with brisket, shoulder… what have you,” Vaughn says. “And then you started to get barbecue joints that weren’t exactly meat markets so they were just buying their sausage from their food distributor. These days you’re seeing a lot more attention put back on sausage and sausage-making.

So why the surge in sausage-making?

“I think a lot of it had to do with a place really wanting to make their mark. It’s harder and harder these days especially if you’re in the middle of Austin or middle of Dallas to make your mark on brisket because so many people are doing it well,” Vaughn says. “Something that can really set you apart is the sausage that you make.”

There’s that old saying “You don’t want to see how the sausage is made.” Is that true anymore?

“It’s not true at all,” Vaughn says. “Most sausages these days are using good cuts of meat or scraps off of good cuts of meat.”

Vaughn says making a good sausage is all about the right proportions: meat to fat to liquid. Some makers are getting creative with their ingredients, adding beer, bacon, cheese and secret seasonings to the mix. But this isn’t something just for the experts– Vaughn says you can make your own specialty sausage at home, too. All you need is the right recipe, a Kitchen Aid mixer, some sausage casings and you’re good to go.