A particular German expression comes to our mind from time to time, whether it’s a hot summer’s day or a cold winter’s night: “it’s all sausage to me!”
While not everyone is of a Teutonic persuasion, the sentiment is pretty clear: sausage is king. Sausage makes the world go round. But when I have a craving for one of those divine dogs, any old wiener won’t cut it.
You might be thinking, “well, how complicated can sausage be?” Well, dear reader, the answer is that the world of sausages is quite complicated, with as many varieties of sausage as there are sausage-smiths on this earth.
But don’t fear. In this article, I will break down the nine major types of sausages you might want next time you have a hankering.
Types of Sausage
Read on to learn about the most common types of sausages you can enjoy!
As its velvety smooth name implies, Andouille sausage is a gift of traditional French cuisine.
In keeping with these French roots, Andouille is made from pig meat, onions, and wine.
I am most familiar with Andouille from Cajun recipes, which draw on Andouille’s smoky flavor to complement the sweet and spicy delights of jambalaya, gumbo, and cajun rice.
The sausage is also prolific in cuisines across the Southern US, where it serves to flavor rice and fish stews.
I have also enjoyed andouille and its little sibling, andouillette, in many French dishes.
Departing from the brisk northern coast of France and moving to the beautiful vistas of Germany, we find the next item on our list, bratwurst.
Bratwurst evokes German cuisine, which makes sense: the earliest Bratwurst recipe is a German creation that is over six centuries old!
Unlike andouille, which is exclusively a pork sausage, bratwurst can be made from a variety of meats, including pork, veal, or even more commonly, chicken.
In terms of cuisine, spice takes center stage: just one bit of brat brings a blast of explosive flavor.
We recommend serving bratwurst on a crunchy roll with spiced mustard, with sauerkraut, or with a tall glass of beer.
Next up on our international tour of the sausage world, let’s feast our eyes (and mouths) on the Spanish and Portuguese chorizo!
Different variations of chorizo appear in Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American cuisines (we’ll get to the differences), but all the sausage varieties are notable for their combination of sweet and spicy flavors.
This owes to pimentón, a Spanish version of smoked paprika that has both a sharp bite and a sweet caress.
In Spanish dishes, chorizo can be fried, baked, grilled, or braised and eaten whole. It’s also common in Latin American cuisine, namely Mexican, to crumble chorizo into ground meat.
Another central European titan of the sausage world is kielbasa, the signature sausage of the hardy nation of Poland and its cuisine.
Kielbasa is a catch-all term, describing any Polish meat sausage–whether made of pork, beef, lamb, poultry, or any other meat.
Different varieties of kielbasa bring different flavors to the table (literally), but they tend to have a similar combination of spices and full-bodied herbs as bratwurst.
The most notable element of kielbasa is its smooth, almost shiny veneer; the sausage meat is neatly nestled in a firm casing (as opposed to chorizo or bratwurst, which tend to be coarser).
Despite its name, Italian sausage isn’t a product of bountiful Italy.
The sausage is most commonly found in American, British, or Australian grocery stores and is so named because it has an Italian-esque flavor.
What does that mean? Well, there’s no hard and fast rule. The flavors of Italian sausage tend to be sweeter, smokier, and hotter than the average plain sausage, with the most notable ingredient being fennel.
However, different varieties contain various mixtures of herbs and spices.
While it isn’t authentic Italian cuisine per se, Italian sausage is still a delicious addition to any number of dishes, from pasta to lasagna.
Another Spanish sausage is longaniza. Like its cousin chorizo, longaniza is a spicy sausage often made of pork and rolled into a sausage shape.
The notable differences between their two sausages are their appearances and flavors.
Longaniza is thinner and more deeply red than chorizo; the former tends to be flavored with a large amount of pepper.
In addition, whereas chorizo is often made from ground meat (which is made of emulsified meat and fat), longaniza tends to be made of minced meat wrapped in a sausage casing.
If I am at a continental breakfast, a brunch, or a Southern diner, one item stands alone as my favorite: breakfast sausage.
Like Italian sausage, breakfast sausage is a catch-all term for the similarly flavored sausages served alongside eggs and hash browns and breakfast.
Most commonly, breakfast sausages are flavored with pepper, sage, and maple syrup, giving them a sweet herbal bite that’s a delicious addition to any plate.
Additionally, breakfast sausages are set apart from the rest of the sausage set by the shapes of the meat.
While some breakfast sausages come in the traditional link shapes, others come in patties.
Blood sausage is a general term that designates sausages filled with coagulated blood.
While it might sound a little grisly, this sanguine snack has a rich, bacon-like flavor (occasionally with a touch of a metallic taste, owing to the iron in the blood).
If the prospect of eating blood sounds strange, don’t worry–blood sausage isn’t just a tube full of blood, but a combination of coagulated blood, meat, spices, nuts, cereals, and pieces of bread.
Depending on the region, some blood sausages go by different names. In the British Isles, for example, blood sausage filled with oatmeal, barley, and pennyroyal is known as black pudding.
Salami is the final item on our sausage list. Salami is widespread throughout Central and Western Europe.
Unlike fresh pork sausages, which must be cooked before eating, salami is a fermented sausage that can be eaten straight out of the package.
One can keep salami at room temperature for weeks at a time (this is why it was so popular amongst middle-class Europeans in the middle ages.
Salami’s flavor, like that of other sausages, is a divine mixture of sweet, spicy, and smoky, with an extra hit of vinegary tang.
It’s most commonly served sliced on sandwiches and charcuterie boards.
Types of Sausage
- Italian Sausage
- Breakfast Sausage
- Blood Sausage
The tight-rolled delights of sausage have captivated diners for centuries, even millennia. Besides bringing the consistently delicious taste of cured meat to the taste buds, they’re also an experiment in cultural diversity.
There are types of sausage for every region of the world, and no two places are alike–which means that when we bite into chorizo, bratwurst, or salami, we’re participating in a tradition that stretches back generation upon generation. Puts that pot of gumbo or salami sandwich into perspective, doesn’t it?
The upshot is that there is a world of food out there for us. All that’s left for us to do is to dive into it.
Learn about other types of meat or about food in general, like how to choose the best cheese for cheeseburgers.
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