The wildly inventive sausages at this Houston-area barbecue push the boundaries

Visiting a BBQ in Houston just a few years ago resulted in limited options when it came to ordering sausages.

There were usually two choices: regular and jalapeño and cheese. These were made with pork and beef and purchased from a commercial distributor or made by a local butcher to a specific recipe.

How times have changed. In the past two years alone, as pitmasters in Houston have started making their own sausage in-house, the variety has grown from a few basic options to creative and relatively exotic sausage flavors like roasted garlic and chili. relleno.

Why the sausage revolution? Mainly due to the need for pitmasters to constantly innovate and exercise their creative impulses.

There are so many ways to cook pork belly or ribs. But with sausage, the options are limitless.

Sausage is no longer just a noun, it’s a verb. “Can you dick him up?” is a refrain made by pitmasters when considering the various ingredients they can combine with meat and other toppings and then stuff them into a casing.

“We love food and love to see ‘if it will be sausage’ so to speak,” says Jacqueline Herrera, general manager of Brett’s BBQ Shop in Katy. Pitmaster Brett Jackson and his team have embarked on one of the region’s ambitious sausage-making programs.

606 Mason, Katy; 281-392-7666

Closed Monday & Tuesday.

Call for daily sausage availability

Jackson and Herrera offer two or three specialty sausages a day. On a recent visit, however, they offered five different homemade sausages. Not one to pass up a rare opportunity, I ordered a link from each.

They were: an all-pork version stuffed with tamales; their original all-beef sausage; the all-beef original with added cheddar cheese; a pork and beef sausage with roasted garlic and cheddar cheese; and an all-beef sausage with serrano-chili and cheddar cheese.

Jackson sliced ​​each link and Herrera slapped them on a platter, with tags for easy identification. It reminded me of the “flights” of beer or bourbon you see on the menu of restaurants and bars these days, where you get a small sampling of different drinks, with which you can compare and contrast flavors and styles.

Comparing and contrasting the flavors and textures of different sausages is both informative and delicious.

For example, the all-pork tamale sausage has a much finer and softer texture than the all-beef sausages. The tamale version is made by grinding locally made whole tamales, adding pork trimmings and stuffing them into a casing. The corn dough in the tamales contributes to the finer texture of this sausage.

The crumbled serrano peppers in this namesake sausage provide a spicy counterpoint to the richness of the cheddar, with quite a kick.

Jackson and Herrera did not rest on their laurels. They developed their own version of a brisket, chicken liver and rice pudding, as well as other inventive sausages.

One of Jackson’s favorite restaurant dishes is chicken cordon bleu, traditionally made by wrapping ham and Swiss cheese in a chicken breast and frying it.

The chicken cordon bleu sausage at Brett’s is an all-chicken version stuffed with ham and Swiss and Gouda cheeses.

The inevitable question arises: Is chicken cordon bleu “sausage”? Indeed, it is.

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About James Almanza

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