There once was a time when "sausage" meant links or patties served with pancakes.
Not anymore, especially in Kansas City. We’ve seen a lot more sausage variety over the past few years.
“I think it’s part of the butchery trend,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “We have more and more chefs who are opening great butcher shops. With this return to artisan do-it-yourself butchery, sausage is a really incredible way to use up all the pieces and parts.”
“What sausage has needed for decades is some imagination,” said Charles Ferruzza. “And now they have it.”
Food Critics Vergara and Ferruzza, along with Mary Bloch, searched out the best sausages in and around Kansas City.
Here are their recommendations:
Mary Bloch, Around the Block:
- Osteria Il Centro — sausage and pepper pasta. Red peppers and Italian sausage in a light sauce.
- Pizzabella — sausage pizza.
- Marco Polo's Italian Market — grilled sausage sandwich. This is also an entrée at Jasper’s with peppers and onions.
- Broadway Butcher Shop and Local Pig. For a vast array of sausage flavors.
- Port Fonda — huevos rancheros. Served with Broadway Butcher Shop’s longaniza sausage (a Spanish sausage that’s similar to Mexican chorizo).
- Tavernonna — rigatoni with spicy lamb sausage. A baked dish with tomato sauce, pecorino and arugula pesto.
- Gram & Dun — chicken and sausage gumbo.
- Aep Thai — Isan sausage. A Chinese-style dry pork sausage served with pickled cabbage.
- Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar — chicken and crawfish gumbo. With andouille sausage.
Blast from the past (no longer available):
- The Prospect in Westport — Italian sausage soup. It’s a hearty tomato-based soup with pasta shells.
Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:
- Scott’s-Kitchen & Catering at Hanger 29 — chipotle ghost pepperjack smoked sausage. This is a new breakfast and lunch spot, and this sausage will make this place famous. It is a pork sausage that has the perfect amount of spice from the smoky chipotle pepper, and the heat is from a ghost pepperjack cheese that owner Scott Umschied mixes with the ground meat. It can be served on a hoagie roll or used in tacos, burritos, bowls or on sandwiches. He also makes his own chorizo.
- Krokstrom Klubb — lefse and sausage dish. Chef Katee McLean uses Broadway Butcher Shop to make her beet sausage. It's served with an unleavened potato bread wrapped around it.
- Krokstrom Klubb — Copenhagen street dog. My favorite hot dog in the city right now. A nine-inch pickled pølse hot dog (from Fritz’s) on an egg bun with curry ketchup, mayo, cucumber onion salad and topped with fried leeks. On the lunch and bar menu. Yes! Dy-no-mite!
- Leeway Franks — classic chili dog. This sausage emporium in Lawrence is owned by Lee Meisel and his wife, K, and it serves a wonderful selection of made-in-house sausages and hot dog sandwiches. I recently had his classic chili dog, which I cannot recommend enough; it’s made with an all-beef frankfurter, Texas red chili, yellow mustard and diced onions on a poppy seed bun.
- The Rieger — merguez sausage. On the new summer menu. It’s wrapped in nettle and served with housemade pita bread with chickpeas, kale, sweet onions, eggplant and a beet tzatziki sauce that I can’t stop dreaming about. Deep spice, smoky flavor, Middle Eastern goodness.
- Affäre. Chef Martin Heuser makes his own sausages. And although I can never say no to a good pork currywurst sausage, he also makes several other traditional German and European sausages, like his Cabanossi sausage (sweet paprika, cayenne, pork and beef, then smoked).
- Paradise Locker Meats. This traditional family butcher shop in Trimble, Missouri flew onto the radar with local and national chefs for their pork from heritage hogs. But you can also go out there and shop their butcher shop (or order online) some of the best pork breakfast sausage you have ever had. I like their spicy ground breakfast sausage, and their smoked maple links are good as well. Hey, if it is good enough for chefs Jonathan Justus, Mario Batali and David Chang, it is good enough for me.
- Krizman's Sausage. Another great place. A lots of chefs like it because has blood sausage and some of the more unique specialty sausages.
- Grünauer. A soothingly cool venue to have a great dinner on a scorching hot night (the patio is typically closed on nights over 90 degrees). You can select a trio of sausages from six or seven house favorites, including a seasonal one. They’re served with sauerkraut and mustard and horseradish sauce. All are particularly good with the house cucumber salad.
- Werner’s Fine Sausages. The second-best reason to travel to Mission, Kansas … after Town Topic. It’s a wonderful place, a longtime butcher shop. On Saturdays, you can get a freshly-grilled sausage sandwich.
- Marco Polo. My request for a last meal would be J.J. Mirabile’s Italian sausage grilled with peppers and onions.
- Affäre. Chef Martin Heuser’s house-made sausages are about the best in the city; they’re so delicious.
- Carollo’s Grocery & Deli — sausage with Romano cheese. It’s outstanding.
- Broadway Butcher Shop — smoked bratwurst. It’s just top of the line.
- Broadway Butcher Shop — jalapeno cheddar. Super-cheesy, a little spicy and wonderful (as is pretty much anything there).
- Soirée New Orleans Bistro in Smithville makes a great boudin.
- Kansas City Irish Fest — haggis.
- McGonigle’s Market — sausage roll. It’s two inches in diameter and you can feed the whole family on it. It’s smoked and very flavorful; good hot or cold.
- Peter May’s House of Kielbasa — Polish sausage. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago on Polish sausage and it reminds me of the stuff they used to make in the old neighborhood. You can eat it hot or cold, and it goes incredibly well on a charcuterie plate with beer tastings.
- Fritz’s Meat & Superior Sausage — South African farmer’s sausage. I’m from South Africa, and they do a really good job with it. South African farmer’s sausage has a heavy coriander flavor and you cook it similar to bratwurst. I like it for breakfast with eggs.
- Scimeca’s. The best sausages are from the Scimeca’s stands you see at KC festivals! Wash it down with a giant fresh-squeezed limeade.
- Krizman’s on Strawberry Hill. I love it. The jalapeno cheddar is the best.
Derr’s Artisan Sausages. This is the “weiner wagon” at the Overland Park Farmer’s Market; they sell frozen sausages to go and they also have a grill for a hot menu. Our current favorite is the jalapeno cheddar kielbasa, but the menu changes daily and there’s even a vegan offering.
Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.