“I just can’t get over the fact that Cincinnati eats their sausages with grape jelly.”
~AFFotD Editor-in-Chief Johnny Roosevelt, after part 4 of this series
We’ve been talking a lot about sausages the past few weeks. Like, a lot. There are dozens of types of sausage out there, even when you include the hundred or so varieties that haven’t made their way to America yet. In fact, we managed to find 25 different types of sausages that were either created in America, or were brought over from Germany (or other countries, but let’s be honest here, mostly Germany) and adopted by America as something that’s worth stuffing into your sin hole (that’s what we’ve been trying to call mouths this year. In retrospect it probably wasn’t our best idea).
Twenty sausage varieties have already been discussed, leaving us going into the homestretch to take all of the leftover sausages we had and “stuff” their “meat” into the “casing” of our final entry in this article series. (Did you see what we did there, or were we too subtle? Subtle about the “this category is like the sausage of sausage varieties” thing?)
American Sausage Series Part 5: Miscellaneous Sausages
We’ve learned about all sorts of sausage varieties on this wild ride of ours (okay, shut up, we know it’s just been like 10,000 words on sausages, which isn’t the most exciting thing, just let us have this, okay? God). We’ve seen cured, smoked, and even fermented sausages with a wide range of flavors. Also there was hog maw and goetta, but let’s focus on the good times. And we’ve got only a handful of sausages left to tell you about, but they still manage to reflect the variety that you can find with the simple concept of encased meat.
Okay so this one is kind of gross. Pickled sausages are pretty much only found at gas stations, convenience stores, or delicatessens. And it’s pretty self-explanatory. You take a hot dog, or a kielbasa-like sausage, and, well, you pickle it in a bottle. The brine is usually made of vinegar, salt, spices, and…red food coloring. Why red food coloring? Fuck if we know. Maybe they want the sausages to look a bit redder, but honestly nothing sounds more terrifying than reaching into a jar of some fucking maraschino cherry looking juice and grabbing a sausage out of there.
The best thing about pickled sausages is that it’s a shelf-stable food item that basically never goes bad. The worst thing about pickled sausages is literally everything else.
German’s version of bockwurst is very different from the American approach. In Germany, Bockwurst has been around since the 19th century, and serves as one of the more popular varieties available. It’s a veal and pork sausage that’s heavy on the veal that is flavored with salt, white pepper, paprika, and parsley. It’s occasionally smoked, but primarily is eaten with beer (like all good things) and served with mustard.
America liked the veal and pork approach, and the eating it with beer approach, but they also decided that parsley needed to get the fuck out of here, and also that it should be more of a white sausage instead. So America’s bockwurst more closely mirrors a Weisswurst, and has been called an “herbed white hot dog” by people who aren’t very inventive with naming things. The sausage still uses a mixture of veal with just a hint of pork, though milk is milk and eggs are added to it in addition to seasoning. You are left with an easily perishable mild sausage that is probably best cooked in scalding water before serving.
No one tries to take credit for the creation of the pepperette, which is sort of a mix between a pepperoni and a Slim Jim, but it does come from America. It’s made with either turkey, beef, or pork and is ready to eat without any sort of cooking. Most pepperettes out there look essentially like shriveled up hot dogs, and they can be flavored a variety of ways. Essentially, they’re meat sticks filled with nitrates, and there’s no shame in that, because pepperettes are pretty delicious.
Linguiça is a popular Portuguese cured pork sausage, seasoned with garlic and paprika. You can find it in its Portuguese form in the States, but it’s actually our little outlier state Hawaii that embraces the sausage and makes it their own. In Hawaii, Linguiça is wildly popular, to the point that you can get it on the McDonald’s breakfast menu there. Hawaii treats the sausages a little differently, however, as they smoke the sausage using banana leaves. It’s a fine sausage, though there’s nothing particularly outlandish about it. That is in stark contrast to our next and final sausage entry…
We were so ready to write about this sausage for our hot dog series, but we couldn’t get over the fact that it’s not a hot dog. A Polish Boy is classified as a sausage sandwich based out of Cleveland. It takes a link of kielbasa (much like the Maxwell Street Polish sausage) and places it on a bun, were it’s covered in French fries, barbecue sauce (or hot sauce), and coleslaw. It’s an unholy mess, and holy shit does that look good right now. The sausage can be grilled, though some places take the extra awesome step to briefly deep fry it once it’s off the grill.
It’s Cleveland’s signature version of a hot dog, but much larger and more satisfying thanks to the Polish sausage that’s in play. And, to reiterate—goddamn, that looks so good right now. That’s as good of a sendoff as we could really hope for with this series. If you can think of a sausage that we didn’t cover, please write about it in the comments, and we’ll proceed to tell you why you’re wrong. Until then, keep on devouring your encased meats, like a true American. Because heart attacks are just a myth, and a well-lived life is filled with eating delicious things.