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Spotlight on Sausage: Game

W hen faced with an elaborate menu for a dinner in her honor, Julia Child once mentioned that she was quite fond of sausage. It was a gentle suggestion that sometimes the simplest foods are the most enjoyable ones, even for a legend in the culinary world. Needless to say, Julia got her sausage selection at the dinner!

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A sausage is a modest tidbit in comparison to the juicy pork chops and bacon yielded from a pig. But it’s enjoyed all over the world - even by cultures that forbid eating pork. While bratwurst, hotdogs and kielbasa are popular in Europe, lamb merguez and beef sausages are eaten in the Middle East. And it doesn’t stop there. Gourmet food aficionados are now enjoying an epoch of the sausage - buffalo, venison, duck, pheasant, elk, alligator, rabbit, and even python sausages are available. Biergartens are opening right and left, specializing in sausage and beer, that eternal combination. Gourmet food trucks are rolling down streets hawking hot links, knackwurst, game sausages and all kinds of wild wieners. The pig never saw it coming.

D’Artagnan’s line of game sausages, are made of meat that is antibiotic and hormone free, with all-natural casings, no added preservatives, nitrites or nitrates or artificial ingredients or colors.

Wild Boar Sausage
Wild boar is a natural place to start with game sausage because of the close relationship of the wild boar to the domestic pig. Wild boar meat is leaner sweeter, redder and nuttier than pork with an intense flavor. Almost like the ultimate, or über-pork. The flavor of the meat varies depending on what the wild boar ate; if they get into heather or acorns, the taste of the meat will reflect that. D’Artagnan wild boar hail from Texas, where they run feral and are humanely trapped by ranchers, then taken to USDA- inspected slaughterhouses and processed as farmed pigs would be. It’s an all-natural lifestyle, so there are no hormones or antibiotics administered to the wild boar.

D’Artagnan makes hearty sausages out of wild boar meat--lean, intensely flavored sausages with a hint of sage. The all-natural links cook up beautifully on the grill, or sautéed, with onions and mixed, sliced bell peppers. They also offer a lean alternative to breakfast sausage and liven up bread or rice stuffing for poultry.

Duck & Armagnac Sausage
In the south west of France there is a region called Gascony, known for cassoulet, foie gras, Armagnac, hearty foods and a local musketeer hero named D’Artagnan. In the north east of New Jersey, just a few miles from New York City, is a company called D’Artagnan owned by Ariane Daguin, a native of Gascony. Ariane, not able to find the foods of her region in the United States, created a duck and Armagnac sausage that is perfect for cassoulet. The rich mixture of duck and pork meat is spiked with a generous dose of Armagnac (a brandy from Gascony) making a robust sausage fit for a musketeer, with a hint of sweetness.

If you are from Gascony, it’s heresy to make cassoulet without duck and Armagnac sausage. But these ducky sausages are good on the grill, eaten out of hand in a baguette like a hot dog and topped with spicy mustard.

Rabbit Ginger Sausage
People have been eating rabbit for centuries, either wild, hunted rabbit, or more commonly, farm-raised rabbit. Rabbits are easy to raise, survive in many types of habitat and reproduce rapidly, making them ideal for meat production, especially in working class households. During World War II rabbit meat increased in popularity in the United States because of food shortages, but when the war ended, so did rabbit consumption. But in much of Europe, rabbit has a time-honored place at the table. Italians are especially fond of coniglio braised in stews.

Rabbit meat is sweet and mild meat, similar to chicken in its versatility and texture, but with a unique flavor. D’Artagnan Rabbit and Ginger Sausages are made from a mixture of pork and rabbit, and have a subtle, gingery bite. Rabbit meat is so lean that the sausage benefits from the addition of pork, both in texture and in moisture. Simply grill or pan-fry rabbit and ginger sausage for a quick meal, toss with pasta, or rice, and roasted vegetables.

Venison and Cherry Sausage
While the lean, red meat of venison might not be top of mind for making sausage it has been a favorite with hunters for years, who ate nose-to-tail long before it was a catchphrase. Because of the lean nature of venison meat, fat must be added otherwise the sausages will be too tough to eat. D’Artagnan Venison and Dried Cherry Sausages contain pork which balances out the flavor and provides a tender texture. The sausages are robust and rich with a sweet-spicy edge from dried cherries, ground ancho and chipotle chiles. Ideal for summer grilling and serving in a bun, or braising with beer and onions in the winter months, venison sausage can also be added to salads or egg dishes, and is tasty with mashed potatoes.