A Bite in the Apple: NYC's Best Sausages
Chorizo sausage from NY Brat Factory
Now that summer is here, odds are good that hot dogs will be on your menu. We know we shouldn’t eat them – they are fatty and salty and maybe not so good for us – but it’s hard to stay away because they are fatty and salty and taste so good!
If hot dogs are your guilty pleasure, you’re not alone. According to Eric Mittenthal, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans eat 20 billion hot dogs a year. That averages out to 61 hot dogs per year per person. And Hebrew National, as the fourth largest purveyor, has captured a large part of that enormous market.
Beef hot dogs are everywhere – you can buy them at sports arenas, in supermarkets, at food trucks – but as delicious as they are, you can branch out beyond the beef dog and dip your tongue into the ever-expanding selection of unusual and exotic kosher sausages that are available today.
Hot dogs are a sub-category of sausages. Every hot dog is a sausage, but not every sausage is a hot dog. “A sausage is ground up meat, mixed with spices, stuffed inside a casing and cooked,” said Mittenthal. “The difference between a hot dog and a sausage is that hot dogs are more finely ground. Sausages generally have a coarser grind.”
If you want to stay with the All-American hot dog, you can find the award-winning Abeles & Heymann hot dogs at kosher butchers, supermarkets, even Costco throughout the New York metropolitan area. They sell the classic frankfurter as well as those that are nitrate and nitrite free.
The organic online glatt kosher butcher Grow & Behold sells hot dogs that can make you feel downright virtuous. The company uses no hormones, antibiotics or filler, and they add no nitrites or nitrates to their product. And if you want to get creative on your guests, grill a selection of their sausages like lamb or beef merguez, mild or spicy chorizo beef sausage, or sweet Italian sausage.
Glatt kosher Jack’s Gourmet can take you on a culinary trip around the world with their Italian, Polish, Mexican, German, and southwestern sausages. They even have a South African product, Boerewors, that is flavored with vinegar and coriander. Their beef merguez sausage is combined with cumin, cinnamon, and harissa, and can be cooked in a tagine, grilled, or sautéed.
Kosher French restaurant Le Marais, in Manhattan’s theater district, sells a selection of unusual sausages at their on-site butcher. They don’t stop at beef. Their product line includes sausages stuffed with lamb, veal, or duck.
At New York Brat Factory on the Upper West Side, you can purchase a wide array of beef hot dogs and sausages, made specifically for the restaurant at their plant in Newark, New Jersey. The signature bratwurst comes with caramelized onions and horseradish mustard. You, of course, can order it at the restaurant. But, if you are planning to grill, you can buy retail packs of their garlic hot dogs, merguez sausage or Italian sausages to prepare at home.
And on the Upper East Side, Rabbi Liron Shamsiav oversees the preparation of a wide range of sausages in the kitchen of Park East Kosher Butcher. He and his team prepare hot and sweet sausages made of chicken, turkey, veal, lamb, and beef. In addition, they make dried sausages: salami, Polish kielbasa, pepperoni, merguez, and chorizo.
As a little girl, we had a choice at our backyard barbecues: beef hot dogs that had a crispy crunch when you bit into them or “specials,” a fatter version of the everyday frankfurter. Chorizo? Merguez sausage? First of all, I never heard of them and when I finally did, they were forbidden, not just un-kosher, but made with pork.
In 2019, the world is your (kosher) sausage. Fire up those grills and have a culinary adventure.