The Eaters Write

We always appreciate hearing from you. It gives us a chance to explain our mission when your letters sometimes express misconceptions about our meats. We recently got a note that expressed a desire for more ground pork and beef but less sausage because, “I don’t know what sausage is made from.” The concern was understandable — sausage, including hot dog weenies, have had a deservedly bad rap sheet for a long time. The bad rap comes from the fact that otherwise unsellable (and often inedible) parts were blended in to add weight and avoid waste. On top of that, sausage factories were neither the cleanest places in the food world but also were dealing with meat that was well beyond its fresh state, always transported again from the point of original processing to the ‘junk yard’, the sausage maker. That was not so in every case but probably was the dominant process. So the only way to make that sausage work was to add bacteria killing bleaches and then injecting preservatives out the wazoo (in some cases in the wazoo). BUT that’s not us! Here are the differences:

  1. Sausage is ground pork or beef, the same fresh and balanced stuff you have in your package labeled as such. In most cases, these ground products come from the rear leg of the pig or beeve, in other words, the hams or the hindquarter respectively. Why? Because these are often the toughest part of the cuts and grinding them breaks the tendons that are causing the toughness.
  2. We never put inedibles in our sausage.
  3. Grinding and sausage making all happens simultaneously at our same butcher shop in La Grange.

These cuts are treated no differently than say a porterhouse chop or a ribeye steak. Bottom line: if you like our ground meats, then you must like our sausage. It’s just ground meat with spices added.

It’s good for us all.

Salt and Its Cousin, Nitrates

With the recent study implicating a low-salt diet as the wrong way to go for heart health (low sodium actually increased the risk of heart disease while normal levels reduced same), it is time to take another look at salt’s cousin, nitrates and nitrites. This is a topic that has interested me ever since we perfected our Hot Piggety Dogs and Farm-tastic Franks. The State requires the addition of nitrates as a preservative, though we managed to limit the dose to as little as possible (which is why our weenies are so bland in color. The deeper the red color you see in grocery store dogs, the higher the content of nitrates. Ours are mild by comparison.)

Despite the low dose found in our only product containing preservatives, I am and always have been interested in understanding why nitrates have been implicated as a possibly deleterious preservative. The only correlation I have been able to find is as a possible contributor to colon cancer. The correlation, however, is very mild and inconclusive. I suspect the danger, if there is any, comes from eating too much food containing nitrates. Please let me know if you know of research otherwise.

Hot Piggity Dogs and Farm-tastic Franks

We occasionally have questions about the relative stiffness of our hot dog weenies and how to cook them. They are stiffer than the average Oscar Meyer version because the ratio of meat to fat is higher in ours. That’s intentional, because we are making a dog that is actually good for you. So how do you soften them a bit so that the texture is more akin to what your expectation is in a weenie? Grill or fry them until they split open. Try something new — braise your steaks and chops. In other words, cook them low and slow. You can do it on the stove top in a covered skillet. Ooooh those juices!