It's pretty simple, really: Grind your meat of choice, add some spices and maybe some minced veggies or fruit, and then force it all into a casing, preferably a natural one made from intestines. Voilà: sausage.
But unless you're as talented as that one Czech guy who stuffs blood sausages with his bare hands, who blew culinary minds on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, you're gonna need at least a few hundred dollars for a good grinder and sausage stuffer. Not a lot of people make that investment for their home kitchen, especially considering the ease with which sausage is purchased at the store — and better sausage from farmers markets and specialty outlets, for a still-reasonable cost.
This week, we salute sausages and brats — hot dogs' handsome and stronger older brothers — via a tour of some six-inch goodies found locally.
Mollica's Italian Market & Deli
985-A Garden of the Gods Road, 598-1088, mollicas.com
After a failed expansion attempt into the Southgate area, Mollica's original location still stands. It's a bright space full of exposed brick, checkered table cloths and a large, full deli case, located right off the side of busy Garden of the Gods Road. The family-run operation has been kicking out homemade cannoli, tomato sauce and sausages, among other things, for 25 years.
The latter creations rotate throughout the week, but hot-and-spicy sausage day proved a good one to catch. Halved, grilled and packed into long French rolls from La Baguette French Bakery-Café ($8.95), the dark links tasting of salt and fennel and smoke were completely satisfying alone. But a nice side of pasta salad with broccoli, onions and carrots, and a fresh and chunky house tomato sauce for dipping, helped it all go down. — Bryce Crawford
Bite Me Gourmet Sausage
Mobile cart, 331-0546, tinyurl.com/727xn5m
On a cold, windy Thursday on Tejon Street, near Pikes Peak Avenue, Bill Layton was bundled behind his grill, his card tables butted up to Zack Travis' Downtown Burrito cart.
We bypassed the Continental Sausage flavors that we've already tried elsewhere, and opted for Polish, spicy buffalo and pheasant brats (each $4) on sourdough buns. We also took advice on fixings, to happy result. Homemade sauerkraut and spicy mustard gifted the Polish a vinegary authority. A potent cayenne cream cheese and caramelized onions played the sweet-hot tune nicely on the truly spicy buffalo, our favorite. And more carmies and Layton's dill cream cheese meet an unusual sweetness exuded from the mushroom-, spinach- and Parmesan-packed pheasant brat, easily the most nuanced and delicate. — Matthew Schniper
811 Cheyenne Meadows Road, 538-8600
Without hyperbole, I can say that the five-inch-long slice of house-made pizza ($3.50) I ate at Guido's one afternoon was the worst bit of restaurant-concocted pie I've ever had. The tiny thing was very greasy, very doughy and undercooked, and very much bereft of the sausage — the whole reason I'd ordered it. (Don't get me started on the surroundings. It's like being in your buddy's bombed-out basement bar: worn bar stools, cheap tables and construction equipment clutter.)
Still with forcemeat in mind, we also got the Italian sausage sandwich ($7.99), which was far more successful at being something I'd want to eat, even if most ingredients were bought at Sam's Club. Peppery, with a lovely fennel flavor, it sported homemade sauce and gooey mozzarella cheese with large green peppers and red onions on a big, chewy roll. — Bryce Crawford