Appetizers
August 19, 2011
Behind the scenes: Tasting sausage before it's on the market

JP (14).JPGJohn Paul Khoury, the corporate chef for Preferred Meats, stopped by the house today to cook up some sausages and give me a chance to sample three products the company hopes to make available soon.

Known to chefs at some of the area's finer restaurants, Preferred is a boutique company that supplies top-shelf meat with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture. I have done several tastings with JP, most focusing on steak or pork, and find these sessions to be helpful. I try to keep up with the latest and best products out there, and I find that comparing different meat from various sources helps me appreciate the often subtle differences..

Now, Preferred is making its own sausage, with a proprietary blend of Berkshire and Duroc pork in a thin lamb casing. JP cooked up three kinds of sausage in my trusty cast iron pan: a breakfast sausage and two kinds of Italian -- mild and hot. In addition to this tasting, JP was making the rounds Friday to several restaurants.The sausage is not yet being sold, so he was simply looking for feedback from chefs. This is part of the business the public often doesn't get to see. Good chefs are constantly on the lookout for products new and great. The taste has to be there, and the price has to make sense. Then there's the all-important logistical component: can you get it to us whenever we need it? If the answer is no or maybe, a chef may pass on it.

After he does enough sausage tastings with chefs, taking notes along the way, JP may tweak the recipes slightly to arrive at a finished product that enough chefs will want to put on their menus.

The next stop for JP on Friday was to see Chef Pajo Bruich at Lounge ON20. I called Pajo later and asked for his impressions.

He said: "I appreciate what JP is doing getting input from myself and other chefs around town and it's nice to think we will have a hand in the finished product
I thought the sausage was very well made. From my perspective it seemed to be 100 percent about the quality of the meat they are putting into the sausage. The meat was fantastic."

Pajo and I agreed that, if anything, the overall flavor profile was straightforward and perhaps one-dimensional. But when you are using high-quality meat, the chef pointed out, you don't want it to be overshadowed by a plethora of seasonings.


sausage (13).JPGI thought the quality of the sausage was very good, and especially I enjoyed the spicy heat of the breakfast sausage, which was seasoned with sage, garlic and chili flake. JP said some of the feedback from chefs was that there might be too much heat for a breakfast sausage. I could go either way on that, but I grew up putting Tobasco on my eggs, so I enjoy the heat.

In a matter of weeks, these sausages -- tweaked recipes or not, high heat or a version toned down a tad -- will likely land on several menus in the area,

The next tasting on JP's schedule Friday was with Chef Pajo Bruich at Lounge ON20. I called Pajo later to get his impressions.

"I appreciate what JP is doing getting input from myself and other chefs around town and it's great to think we will have a hand in the finished product.
I thought the sausage was very well made. From my perspective it seemed to be 100 percent about the quality of the meat they are putting into the sausage. The meat was fantastic."

AA_loungeontwenty005.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpgHe said:Pajo and I differed a little on the seasonings -- he thought the Italian sausage needed more coriander and fennel, while I could have been happier with a bit less. But we agreed that, if anything, the overall flavor profile was straightforward, even one-dimensional. But when you are using high quality meat, the chef noted, you don't want it to be overshadowed by a plethora of seasonings.

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