Gilbert's Craft Sausages
Cheese is a common inclusion in sausage recipes because it's a great way to add flavor, color and texture.

KANSAS CITY — Though once considered an outlet for meat scraps and a means to preserve meat, sausages, also known as encased meat, have evolved into culinary creations that entice consumers’ taste buds with adventurous ingredients. Since the first apple chicken sausages debuted in retail more than a decade ago, commercial processors have become quite adventurous with adding flavorful inclusions to all types of sausages, from breakfast links to hot dogs to kielbasa.

“Sausages don’t have to be only an outlet for inferior meats that get mixed with fillers and nitrates,” said Lance Appelbaum, founder and owner of Fossil Farms, Boonton, N.J. “I believe sausages are a great way to introduce consumers to new meats and new flavors. It’s not hard to make a great-tasting sausage. What makes the product good is the ingredients you use.”

Fossil Farms’ specialty is unique meats and flavorful inclusions. Some of the company’s specialties are elk sausage with apples and pears; rabbit and chicken sausage with white wine and bacon; and venison sausage with blueberries and merlot wine.

“We take sausage to a new level and cater to the new consumer,” Mr. Appelbaum said. “Most game meats are very lean, making them better-for-you meats; however, many consumers are hesitant to try the meat on its own. In a sausage, with other ingredients, they are ‘game.’”

Zachary Reed, senior associate, meat applications, Ingredion Inc., Englewood, Colo., concurs that today’s consumers want to explore new flavors, and sausages are an ideal carrier.

“As many consumers expand their palates, there’s an opportunity to recreate exotic dishes that people tried in restaurants by making them into flavorful sausages for at-home consumption,” he said.

Parkers British Institution, Buffalo, N.Y., an acclaimed authentic British food manufacturer, produces traditional sausages in a traditional manner, yet leaves room for creativity. For example, Damian Parker, owner, recently created a piri-piri chicken sausage that contains piri-piri chilies. It joins favorites such as English mustard pork sausages, which come loaded with mustard seed and imported spices.

“Traditional British sausages contain lots of herbs and spices,” he said. “To stay authentic, we import many of our seasonings, including those used in our pork and apple sausages. Here we use dried apple pieces, which absorb the fat in the sausage and become nice and juicy when it’s time to eat.”