Italian Sausage with Goat Milk Cheddar by the Maestro Sausage Company

We have already reviewed a couple of Maestro Sausage Company products (see here and here) and in my book, their hot italian sausage is hands down one of the top 2 or 3 italian sausages in the country. Do what you need to do to get a case for your next get together.

pontrelli and laricchia italian sausage wth goat milk cheddar

Today we’re talking about their Italian Sausage with Goat Milk Cheddar. Considering that we are already starting out with what we know to be an excellent italian sausage, the question is, would the addition of the cheese elevate the experience or muddle this top sausage. Would the cheese flavor profile be to strong or perhaps it would be in the name only, not distinguishable in any way except by the mother of the goat?

I’m pleased to report that this is a homerun. The goats milk cheddar tasted fresh and creamy yet it was subtle enough in flavor to allow the italian sausage to shine at the same time. Almost luxuriously creamy in texture, this sausage is perfect for grilling (keep it low and slow though to keep the skins from bursting) or just baking them and enjoying with wine and some good bread to cut the richness of the goats milk cheddar.

Highly recommended, get your hands on some of this if you can.

Maestro Sausage Company Hot Italian Sausage by Pontrelli and Laricchia

I want four things from my Italian Hot sausage.

1) Fresh pork flavor
2) Nice heat
3) Nice fennel
4) No gristle or other non meat products.

While that seems simple enough, I’ve had far to many Italian Hot Sausages that failed to deliver on what would seem to be the fundamentals of a decent Italian sausage.

Just this week I received a shipment of various sausages from Nick Pontrelli at Maestro Sausage Company in Vernon California. His family has been in the business of making Italian sausage for about 90 years and let me say right upfront, they knock down the fundamentals and then some.  I have several varieties of their sausages to review over the next month but I wanted to get started with their Hot Italian sausage so I broke out a few links for breakfast this morning.

Pontrelli and Laricchia Maestro Brand Hot Italian Sausage

This is a very nice mid-course grind with noticeable whole fennel seeds and flecks of red pepper flakes. Excellent fresh italian sausage taste and texture to this with perfect levels of fennel and red pepper so each bite is similar in flavor with just a touch of varience created by the amount of fennel seeds or red pepper flakes. I’m often disappointed in the heat level of hot italian sausage but the heat in this was just right to me. It was a fabulous natural heat that you get in different areas of your mouth instead of that un-natural, almost chemical like heat you get when to much cayenne is used in a sausage. Nice but very subtle mouth burn (I’d say a 5 on a scale of 10 which for an italian sausage is about right imo) even 10 minutes after finishing this one.

hot italian sausage

Slicing it open reveals exactly what you want to see in a well made fresh Hot Italian sausage. Plenty of fennel seed (I’ll take whole over ground any day) and red pepper flakes surrounded by course ground meat. It doesn’t get any better then that.

Hands down just a great example of what a Hot Italian Sausage should be. I would buy this again and highly recommend you give it a try.

Ingredients: Pork, Seasoning (spices, salt, dextrose, msg, flavorings, paprika, extractives of paprika), water

DC Bratwurst by Simply Sausage

dc braturst simply sausage

Over the years I think I’ve tasted 50 different brats. Many of them had very similar flavor profiles but now and then you run into one that really stands out..not always as a brat but as a sausage. The DC Bratwurst from Simply Sausage does a fine job of being a brat with a somewhat unique flavor profile.

I cooked these in an open pan to a temperature of 162 degrees. On first bite I was hit with a strong but not over powering taste of pork and pepper. By the time I finished the first sausage I was a fan and I found that the pepper itself was very addicting. As I sat making notes, I steadily sampled away at the 3 remaining sausages and, unfortunate as it may be for my balanced eating plan, I finished off this delightfully spiced 4 pack in about 30 minutes sans bread, condiments, or any sides. Feeling a bit guilty I decided to skip my evening snack.

My conclusion. If you’re a fan of brats and the beautiful subtlety of pepper, I’m sure you will find this sausage to be amazing. I would buy this sausage again with no hesitation and highly recommend brat lovers give this a try.

Ingredients: Pork, salt, water, caraway, lemon zest, pepper, nutmeg.

Esposito’s Chicken Hot Italian Sausage

Another Chicken sausage, this one from Esposito’s in New York.

espositos chicken hot italian sausage

This is a fine ground sausage with a good amount of fennel and fair amount of heat. This does in fact taste like a Hot Italian Sausage but I don’t think it rises to Esposito’s regular Hot Italian Sausage.

BUT, if you like or prefer chicken sausage and you like italian sausage, I’m telling you that this is probably the sausage for you. The flavors would hold up very nicely in a pot of sauce or better yet, stuff a couple of these into some good bread with some onions and peppers and you have a healthier sausage sub with no discernible difference in taste with a premium pork italian sausage.

One thing that impresses me about Esposito’s chicken sausages is the ingredients. I’m a firm believer that in order to have a quality product you have to start with quality ingredients and Esposito’s gets that right with their chicken sausages.

While a traditional pork italian hot sausage would be my first choice, I wouldn’t hesitate to order this sausage again.

Ingredients: Chicken, water, salt, fennel, pepper, paprika.

Simply Sausage’s Chicken Sausage with Hatch Green Chiles

If you’ve ever been to New Mexico (or surrounding areas) when the Hatch Chiles come in, you know the pleasure of watching these beauties getting roasted and then taking some home and making some fresh green pork chili or just adding them to some eggs in the morning. One of the great eating experiences in life as far as I’m concerned.

I recently received a small shipment of Sausages (gratis) from Stan at Simply Sausage out of Landover Maryland (thanks Stan!). I’ll be posting reviews on some of his varieties in the near future but when I opened the box and saw the chicken with hatch chiles, I knew right away what I was having for breakfast this morning.

simply sausage chicken with hatch green chiles landover maryland

The first thing I noticed on the packaging is, much like the chicken sausage from one of my other favorite sausage makers Esposito’s in New York, all the items listed are ingredients I’m betting you’re familiar with and have in your kitchen. We talk about the simplicity of a good sausage from time to time and if you start with quality ingredients, you more often then not finish with a quality sausage. Simply Sausage gets that right with this product.

This came as a raw product so I steamed the sausage for a few minutes in about 2 tbs of water with the lid on. I then put about 1 tbs of olive oil in the pan and tended the sausage for about 4-5 minutes at medium heat so it could brown just slightly and evenly. I measured the internal temperature to be 165 degrees and took them out of the pan to rest a few minutes.

The grind on this was very fine all the way through the sausage and when cut open it had small flecks of spice, some of which I assumed to be hatch chiles. The sausages were beautifully seasoned and gave off a fabulous garlic aroma when cooking that mellowed to just the slightest hint of garlic when eaten. Unlike a hot smoked sausage, the heat was reminiscent of a good pork chili where it starts small and grows slowly and warmly as you move towards the bottom of the bowl (or towards the last bite of sausage in this case).

This is an excellent sausage and as good a chicken sausage as I’ve eaten. Quite frankly, if you didn’t tell me this was chicken, I would have guessed pork. I would definitely purchase this sausage again and would recommend spending some time on their website as they offer a large selection of fresh sausages.

Ingredients: Chicken, hatch green chiles, beer, salt, garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and black pepper.