Upscale protein offerings used to be limited to a “usual suspects” line-up of tenderloin, lobster and prime rib. These days, an on-trend dining experience is likely to include several options for shareable charcuterie plates, with house-made sausages as a featured ingredient.
That’s certainly the case at Butcher and the Boar restaurant in Minneapolis, which opened in 2012 with a “festive and communal dining” concept that features what the eatery calls “American craft food.” As the name indicates, the restaurant is a carnivore’s delight, and Executive Chef Jeff Kipp oversees a kitchen that makes seven different varieties of sausage, using everything from wild boar to Texas beef. The offerings span the globe to include traditional British versions such as blood sausage and Berkshire pork with cheddar, as well as a Mexican-influenced green chorizo sausage.
Fine dining and sausage making
This level of quality and variety for in-house sausage making is part of a growing national trend, says Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters, a consultancy focused on helping foodservice operators and food manufacturers understand and leverage trends. “Fine dining operators, as opposed to fast casual or fast food concepts, are doing a far more effective job focusing on sausage as an entrée or key ingredient for an entrée, beyond sandwiches and pizza,” Webster says. “The trend is fueled, in part, by an increased interest in cuisines in which sausage plays a larger role, including Bohemian, German and Polish.”
The perfect beer pairing
Another reason for the renewed interest in high-quality sausage has to do with what’s on tap at the bar. Webster says, “beer is increasingly popular, and there’s been a resurgence of some of the more traditional beer styles that previously had been all but forgotten in the U.S. market.” She notes that “this rediscovered love of beer has elevated the interest in cuisines that traditionally pair with beer, and that has certainly been part of the new interest in menuing sausage.”
Sausage on the menu
As evidenced by the menu at Butcher and the Boar, creativity with ingredients and recipes is driving a boom of new flavors and approaches. “Operators are certainly playing with the primary animal source, and are creating sausage from duck, venison, boar and reindeer,” Webster says. “Beer is being used to prepare the protein, or as an ingredient in the sausage. Beyond European-influenced offerings, chorizo continues to gain ground with more authentic and better-quality options more easily and readily available.”
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