Andrew McNeil

Undeniably, your choice of sausage matters

By Andrew McNeil

Almost no food draws cross-table glances as consistently as a bite of great sausage, and nothing defines the phrase comfort food more accurately.

A couple years ago, I was talking to a friend about his Lowcountry Boil recipe when he said, “I just use Hillshire.”

Stunned, I wondered, is the best shrimp in the world truly best paired with a Hillshire?

After exhaustive research, my family, friends, and I can assure you that the answer is a resounding “NO.”

There are many outstanding choices here in the Lowcountry that flat out make those calories worth it and elevate your results. These are products made by companies that take great pride in what they do.

That said, there is not one sausage for every undertaking. I encourage you to check out some of our favorites and recommendations for the next time you choose to indulge.

Sausage is vital in a Lowcountry Boil and it has a job to do. It perfumes the potatoes and brings a salty lushness to the water that pulls it all together.

Our current favorite is Georgia Boy by D.L. Lee and Sons out of Alma, Ga. It is a fine grind with a natural casing that has a flavor and texture that is hard to beat. Available almost everywhere, it will get as many compliments from your guests as our local shrimp will.

Grilled sausage is clutch for a backyard barbecue. Nettles Country Smoked Sausage from Lake City, Fla., is the real deal. Cook it slow on the grill and your patience will be rewarded.

Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce, and they are as good as anything you will taste at the best barbecue joints in the country. (Note: Nettles is also my go-to for a Pilau (Perlo) that I make with chicken and baby collards. Dice it up. It is perfect.)

Ogeechee Meat Market in Savannah makes fresh sausages in-house, and their Vidalia onion sausage is a knockout. You can see the juices boiling through the skin on your grill.

Again, cook it slow, pour yourself a drink and relax. Eat it with your favorite mustard. Boom.

As for major players, Johnsonville’s Original Brats and Italian sausages are legit. These are also uncooked sausages, and it makes a big difference. Their seasoning is flawless and store brands just do not compare.

Also, my neighbor uses Jimmy Dean Original to pull together a baked St. Paul’s rice that will have you drooling and daydreaming days later.

Sausage is southern institution and a timeless guilty pleasure. It is pure satisfaction and we deserve it. I hope to inspire you to experiment and to savor every bite along the way.

Send me a note and share your favorites. Trust me, I’ll try them.

Andrew McNeil is a writer, public speaker, development coach, self-taught chef and U.S. Army veteran. He can be reached at andrew_mcneil@hotmail.com.

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