The Science of Sausage
Ever wonder who is behind the scenes making those delicious sausages of the month? Meet our own Trevor Schultz, butcher and sausage savant. Trevor explains how he comes up with featured sausages and his strategy for adding flavor depth to each one.
Where do you find inspiration for your sausage creations?
Ideas for sausages come from my surroundings, seasons and available ingredients. When we have exceptional seasonal ingredients available, like fresh sweet corn or Michigan Blueberries, it’s pretty easy. Some ingredients take a bit more strategy. A while back, Kettle Range was asked to create a few sausages for an event, each featuring a different Central Waters Beer. The challenge here was to create a seasoning base for each sausage that accentuated the tasting notes of its paired brew.
To accomplish this, I sampled each beer and noted the flavors that were present. (Hard work, I know). I then formulated a seasoning base for each sausage that provided balance and depth. Sweet with bitters for contrast, mild flavors with strong to highlight the under notes and melding similar flavors to add intensity. All of these worked together to create a great depth of flavor.
Explain what is meant by flavor depth?
I want my sausages to be an experience for the palette. Meaning I want flavors to play off one another and come through sequentially. This is what we’re talking about when we refer to flavor depth. It can take a bit of noodling sometimes, though the idea is quite simple. I like to think about flavors in layers. Imagine you’re creating sand art and adding different colors to create an aesthetically pleasing display. Maybe you’re wanting a certain color to stand out, but also to meld with the colors on either side. Same idea here for building flavor profiles. We begin with low intensity flavors and move to higher intensity flavors, filling the gaps with accenting ingredients like salt.
Take for instance seasonings that are desired for a specific sausage, like fennel in an Italian. This seasoning is high in concentration, so it’s the first layer of taste that comes thorough. Then we have other layers of ingredients in lower concentrations like oregano, nutmeg and wine. These flavors linger and add complexity without overpowering the primary seasoning, fennel.
Tell us about this month’s featured sausage, the Roasted Corn Brat.
Spring and summer are easy because there is a plethora of fresh, seasonal ingredients. But late Summer brings one of our favorite grill-able treats, sweet corn. I start by roasting the corn in the husk to steam the corn until almost done. I then husk it, and put it back to the flame to finish it off, charring the kernels and changing the flavor beautifully. Add this to our original brat seasoning, and you have a perfect balance of sweet and salty.
Thanks for sharing your secrets with us, Trevor. Enjoy the sweet corn brat this August, Kettle Club!