Sensational new sausage to spice up your day!
If you don’t already know them—and not that many in the Midwest will—Hot Links are a classic of East Texas. I’ve been waiting to have these on the menu for years. It was very well worth the wait. These are so exceptionally good, that I won’t mind eating them two or three times a week for a while to make up for lost time. If you’re from Texas you probably know all about Hot Links—down there, they’re a long-standing tradition, especially, though definitely not only, in the African American communities. These new arrivals at the Roadhouse are made for us by our friend Matt Romine from Farm, Field, Table in Ferndale, using sustainably raised beef and lamb and a series of spices— paprika, cayenne, black pepper, fennel seed, anise, coriander seed, mustard seed, and bay leaf.
To be clear, hot links are a big deal in Texas—sort of what hot dogs are in Chicago or Bratwurst in Milwaukee. They have a tradition all their own. Maybe, you could say, they’re a cousin of a Cajun boudin. Jessi Devenyns, writing in Wide Open Eats, says, “Away from the legacy of smoked brisket in the Texas Hill County, East Texas hot links reign supreme, especially in the Hot Link Capital of Texas: Pittsburg.” That’s Pittsburg, TX, not Pittsburgh, PA. The story is that Pittsburg butcher Charlie Hasselbach created them back in 1897 in their raw form, and then began cooking them for sale as is twenty years or so later.
For more on Hot Link history, see this great film from Southern Foodways Alliance – www.southernfoodways.org/blood-is-blood. Remember that Camp Bacon is a fundraiser for this very fine organization! “East Texas Hot Links” is also the title of a well-regarded, socially challenging, stage production written by Eugene Lee about a “colored only bar” back in 1955.
Here, we smoke the fresh sausages at the Roadhouse lightly over oak, and then put them out on both lunch and dinner dishes. They are, seriously, totally delicious. Like, as in excellent. The super high quality of the meat from Farm, Field, Table gives them a depth, character and complexity that most commercial meat products will never come close to. The spice is significant but not too over the top at all. That said, in Texas, they’re generally taken with a bottle of hot sauce to shake on the plate as an accompaniment. All I can say is the first time I tasted the sample, I took two of ‘em home to have for dinner. And we rarely cook meat at home so you know they’re good! Smoky, spicy, meaty, super marvelous. Come check ‘em out ASAP!