Butchers from Northern California and Nevada Whole Foods entered an original sausage competition last month. The top three were chosen and I was offered a chance to try them. Here are the semi-finalists:
· From Reno: Sweet Chili Hillbilly Sausage – pork casing, pork, sweet chili sauce, Ninja Squirrel Sriracha, green onions, minced garlic, pepper, salt, pepper jack cheese, hatch chiles, pickled jalapeno, habanero green chili seasoning
· From Roseville: Philly G’s Philly Cheese – beef, provolone cheese, white onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, santa maria seasoning
· From Cupertino: The Great Garlic & Gouda – Pork, Garlic, Smoked Gouda, Roma Tomatoes, Green Onions, Chives, Marjoram, Salt, Pepper.
These are available in all Northern California and Nevada stores and the best selling sausage will go on to the national competition. I stopped by the Oakland store to pick up sausage, beer and other ingredients and immediately thought about how delicious it would be if I could talked Chef Peter Jackson into cooking an impromptu Oktoberfest dinner. Peter has spent most of his life learning how to make sausage and cured meats and regularly hosts pop-up dinners as well as being a personal chef and running Boucherie. He’s a self-proclaimed “Meat Craftsman” so I was excited when he said yes! We got together with Maricela Yee of Little Shop Artisan Box and he showed us how to cook and serve the sausage. I learned a lot and wanted to share so you can have an Oktoberfest celebration of your own.
Talk to the butcher and ask for suggestions because the texture and taste of the sausage will be completely different, depending on who makes it. If you find a batch you like, go back immediately for more. We all agreed that the Philly G’s Philly Cheese sausage had the best flavor and texture on that day.
Peter put the sausage in a skillet with a little water to cook it through. When the water evaporated, he let the sausage brown and checked the doneness with a finger.
Don’t be afraid to slice the sausages and eat them with beans, in a pasta salad or sandwich. Here are the dishes Peter created:
Open Face Sandwich with Philly G’s Philly Cheese sausage on an Acme sweet rustic baguette, with aioli and Early Girl tomatoes
The Great Garlic & Gouda Sausage in a Baia pasta salad with red onion, crimini mushrooms and arugula
Sweet Chili Hillbilly Sausage in an Acme baguette with arugula and plum salsa
This was my favorite: Sweet Chili Hillbilly Sausage with cranberry beans, mirepoix and rosemary
Pick up your favorite local beer to go along with the sausage. The recommended pairings didn’t always go with the dishes he created, so I would suggest just choosing a beer you like. Invite some friends over, put on some music and have a good time!