Most Texans naturally think of sausage when they think of barbecue. But sausage came to the Lone Star State via German and Polish immigrants.
Where there’s smoke, there’s Daniel Vaughn , barbecue editor for Texas Monthly. He say these newcomers brought the tradition of dried sausage to Texas – sausage that is smoked for days or weeks, then sliced thin. But Vaughn says it’s getting harder to find dried sausage.
“It really is kind of going away,” Vaughn says. “Really, the places you’re going to find it these days are older meat markets, Polish meat markets, German meat markets, where they’re really holding onto a tradition of preservation.”
You’ll find dried sausage at meat markets in Thorndale and Rockdale, along Highway 79, in Central Texas. Vaughn calls Highway 181, south of San Antonio, “Polish sausage highway.” In Fredericksburg, Dutchman’s Meat Market sells dried sausage, too.
Vaughn says dried sausage was created as a way to preserve meat.
“If you’re gonna take a pig and slaughtering it in the wintertime, and hanging things up to smoke, you’re going to enjoy your fresh sausages right away, but you gotta find a way to keep the rest of that meat good for several months,” Vaughn says.
Dried sausage tastes a little like beef jerky, but not as chewy, Vaughn says, and it becomes tangy over time, as it smokes.
“It also is usually about a 50-50 mix of pork and beef, really lean beef is really important for this mixture,” Vaughn says. “…When’s the last time you had a piece of pork jerky?”
Dried sausage isn’t usually highly spiced, but in Thorndale, you can get a variety of flavor combinations, including Korean-inspired bulgogi.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.