Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations – Beef with Bacon and Monterey Jack Cheese Smoked Sausage

Before writing this review I went back and looked at the last review we did for the Hillshire Farms Gourmet Collections brand and the first thing that struck me is the length of the name of their products. It takes 13 words to accurately record the name of this particular sausage. That reminded me of the old Lance Crackers commercials where the guy says “we have 12 scientists creating our products and one drunk guy naming them”. That was a funny spot.

This was a medium to fine grind sausage with slight hints of bacon. The cheese, while visually present in small pockets, added nothing in mouthfeel or flavor. Slightly smokey and just a hint of spice, overall this was not a bad sausage, it just needed more flavorful cheese.

I would rate this a 4 on a scale of 10. It wasn’t greasy and the texture was fine. The overall flavor lacked any punch so it had that “getting by for the masses” appeal that you often find in mass produced products.


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.

Hormel Natural Choice Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage

This is our second review of this product line following up on Hormels Spinach Asiago Chicken sausage.

hormel jalapeno cheddar sausage

The Hormel Jalapeno Cheddar sausage is an all natural chicken sausage that’s gluten free and fully cooked. Much like their Spinach Asiago, I found this sausage to be one note – spicy from the jalapenos, with nearly no cheddar flavor or texture.  Both of these products have a clean ingredients list and a nice grind but both would be better products if they had either more cheese or a better quality cheese with a more pronounced flavor. At $4.99 for a 12oz package, this is a premium product for off the grocery store shelf sausage but unfortunately neither quite live up to the billing on the package.

I would pass on buying this again unless Hormel decides to reformulate the product with more and better cheese.

Ingredients: Dark chicken meat, cheddar cheese, vinegar, salt, jalapeno peppers, paprika, green chile peppers, spices, cilantro, roasted onions, natural flavoring

Kiolbassa Beef and Cheddar Smoked Sausage

When I think about states I like to visit just for a good sausage sampling run, several come to mind.

New York – great neighborhood meat markets, many offering their own version of various primarily fresh sausages.

Louisiana – again with the neighborhood stores and meat markets turning out boudin and andouille made from everything from pork to alligator.

Ohio – lots of great polish, slovenian. german, and czech sausages in Ohio

Wisconsin – Brats of course!

Texas –  If you’re a sausage fan and you’ve never been to Texas, you need to set some time aside and make the trip. You could spend months visiting smokehouses and local sausage makers of all styles and varieties and still come away wishing you had time to get to that one last place that somebody told you about at what you thought was your final destination. Texans take their sausage seriously.

One thing that Texas does well is Beef sausage and today we are reviewing a Texas staple brand, Kiolbassa Provision Company of San Antonio. Kiolbassa has been in the sausage business for over 60 years and their sausages are readily available throughout Texas.

kiolbassa smoked sausage beef and cheddar

This is a medium grind lightly smoked beef sausage with cheddar cheese. Kiolbassa retails their sausage both in stores all over Texas and of course online – at $9.95 per package this is priced as a premium sausage but each package is 1.25 pounds so they are packing in a little more sausage then average.

This had a nice beef flavor with just a hint of smoke compared to your typical smoked pork sausage. No fillers or gristle in any of the sausages and the cheddar added a nice if not slightly muted touch to the flavor profile. I find some beef sausages to be a little greasy from time to time but that was not a problem with the Kiolbassa beef and cheddar. The casing on this sausage was thicker then you would normally get from your typical pork sausage also but it is appropriate for the style of sausage and personally I like the extra snap and texture.

I have 3 other varieties from Kiolbassa to sample later but if they hold up to this one, I would say that Kiolbassa provides as fine a product as you will find in your grocery store and it can hold it’s own with many of the fine beef sausages I’ve had at some of the best smokehouses in the state.  I expect Texas beef sausage to have a nice dose of black pepper and this did not. That didn’t detract from the overall flavor or the quality of the sausage, it just was different then what I expected in that area.

I would purchase this sausage again and recommend it as a good example of Texas beef sausage.

Ingredients: Beef, water, pasteurized processed cheddar cheese, salt, potassium lactate, flavoring, sugar, garlic, sodium nitrate, sodium diacetate.

Hormel Natural Choice Spinach Asiago Sausage

This is a fully cooked chicken sausage from Hormel. The term Natural Choice means it’s 100% natural with no preservatives and the ingredients list is pretty clean.

I warmed this sausage through and then browned them slightly before eating. When you look at this sausage, there is an amazing amount of spinach and you can also see a good number of white flecks underneath the casing surface. The grind is fine and the sausage has a nice texture with a pronounced spinach taste – which is pretty nice considering spinach is such a mild tasting vegetable. Unfortunately the asiago cheese, which happens to be one of my favorites, is nearly undetectable. Asiago is such a strong tasting cheese and it seems that just a small amount against the near flavorless chicken and the mild spinach would stand out. Unfortunately that’s not the case. At $4.99 for 12 oz, this is priced as a premium product and I would consider it to be just that (for chicken sausage) if all the flavors came through.

As it is, I thought it was over priced and I wouldn’t purchase this sausage again.