The more time I have spent researching the food industry over the years the more I find it hard to swallow the mainstream practices in mass production. As most of us are well informed, in order to feed the masses and reap huge financial benefits, short cuts occur which not only affect our physical health but radically deplete our resources and hurt the environment as well. From a producer’s perspective, it’s not easy to make quality products in a space where the marketing voice across the nation comes from Tyson Foods, Monsanto and Smithfield Foods.
One major driving factor for me in creating Eat Seattle was to support the micro producing vendors in Pike Place Market who spend time, energy and money to ensure high quality control on their products knowing their pay off will never be close to Tyson Foods. All of the vendors with whom Eat Seattle works has a commitment to quality, sustainable practices and, in the case of our two meat vendors, humane conditions for their livestock.
In my quest to know everything about Eat Seattle’s vendors, I sat down with owner and founder of Uli’s Famous Sausage, Uli Lengenberg. It didn’t take long after meeting Uli to feel mentally transported to a small town in Germany. It wasn’t just his German accent, large stature or handlebar mustache, it was his casual body language that made me feel like we had all the time in the world to chat. We weren’t pressed for time, anxiously addressing check list items to ensure we would walk away feeling our time spent, directly correlated to revenue producing activities. It was relaxed conversation.
Uli is a Meister in his craft from Westphalia Germany. This means he has been trained and certified in the, dying, art of butchery; understanding everything about animals from raising, slaughtering and preparation. His training epitomizes everything that encompasses the famous German sausage reputation of using traditional hands-on practices to creating a flavorful, texture-perfect, all-natural sausage. When he moved to Seattle 15 years ago from Tapei, where he ran a catering company and a few delis, he saw the immediate need to share his sausage making skills by opening a storefront in the Pike Place Market. As he puts it, ” I was born hungry”, and enjoys his sausage daily. I think it is likely that making sausage was necessary for him to survive in Seattle.
What makes his sausages unique? Uli attributes his delicious sausages to the love that goes into making them. It may be hard for us metric-centric Americans to translate what that means exactly. There is care and respect that go into the process from raising animals properly to creating the final flavor-profile between the meat and spices. There are no artificial flavors, antibiotics or food coloring.
Aside from pure quality, Uli and his team are thoughtful about meeting the flavor demands of their clientele but also enjoy introducing new flavors that are delicious but may be less familiar to locals. Their variety is a huge differentiator from competitors in their space from South African to Hungarian sausages. Yum!
At this point in the conversation, Uli found his appetite and ordered a few sausages for us to share. Before he ordered, I played down my interest in having some, mostly out of social politeness, so I think he may have been surprised how much competition he faced as I anxiously cut and stabbed at the sausage board to secure my portion when it arrived. If anyone has eaten chocolate cake with me they know what this frenzy is like. I’ll attribute it to my German genes coming through.
I personally think these sausages taste the best prepared on their own with a little red cabbage and mustard but I did ask Uli if he had any advice for cooking with his product as I wanted to play around with a recipe. His response “the most important ingredient is the cook”. Reflecting back on this deep comment, which was one of many, it occurred to me that I had met the Yoda-equivalent of sausage making. It’s no wonder why this business is successful, above and beyond mastering the craft of making delicious sausage comes a passion and wisdom that is reflected in the company and its employees.
By the way, Uli’s Famous Sausage is available online and you can get 10% off using EATSEATTLE as the discount code.
As for a sausage creation, I opted to try a cornbread stuffing recipe. Recipe below:
- Martha Stewart's Corn Bread Recipe:
- 1.5 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1.5 cups flour
- 3 tsp baking soda
- 3 tsp salt
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 2.5 cups buttermilk
- 3 eggs
- 1-1.25 lbs Ulis Chorizo sausage cut in ½" chunks ( I prefer the picante over the Spanish but it is cook's choice)
- 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil (grapeseed or safflower oil work)
- 1 medium onion diced small
- 2 celery diced small
- 1 medium carrot diced small
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tbsp bruised and minced rosemary
- 1.5 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ water
- 3 eggs (sightly beaten)
- Corn bread: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with 2 tablespoons butter.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk; whisk in remaining butter. Stir cornmeal mixture into buttermilk mixture just until moistened. (Do not overmix.)
- Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan at least 15 minutes before inverting and slicing.
- Stuffing: Pre-heat oven to 350
- Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Once sizzling hot, add sausage chunks. Cooking for about 5 minutes until browned on each side and cooked through. Do not move the pan too much except to turn the meat so that the brown bits form on the bottom. Once all meat is browned, remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery and sautee vegetables about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper. Let cook for another 4 minutes until onions become translucent. Put the cooked vegetable into a bowl and set aside. Deglaze the hot pans with ½ cup of water to get the brown bits. You'll use this reserved liquid later.
- Cut the corn bread into ½" pieces. You should get 10-12 cups with Martha Stewart's recipe. Put the cut up cornbread into a bowl. Mix the sausage and vegetables to the cornbread. Add the beaten eggs and the reserved liquid. Slowly add the stock in ½ cup at a time. The mix should be moist but not soaking wet. If you don't use all of the stock, keep it reserved in case the mix seems too dry in the oven. You can always add a little more half way through cooking if it seems dry. Once everything is mixed add to a baking dish and cook uncovered for 45-60 minutes. Top should be golden brown.