Thinking about the hardships impacting the hospitality industry these days, Justo Cruz and Ben Kaempfer came up with an idea they thought might help. They call it the “sausage stimulus.”
Cruz is the owner of Tally Mac Shack, which creates a wide range of delectable sauces, and Ben Kaempfer is owner of the Cottondale-based Register’s Meat Company, Inc Together, they have created a jalapeño cheese-infused smoked sausage labeled “Dirty Dogs,” to be served in restaurants and offered in grocery stores.
Here’s the stimulus part: Cruz and Kaempfer have been giving away cases of the sausage to restaurant owners who want to participate. Restaurants get the sausage for free and they can keep all the profits from the dishes they create using the sausage.
Cruz said the inspiration for the idea came, in part, from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Resilience IPA efforts after the wildfires in California.
“It’s extremely exciting to see restaurants making these knockout dishes,” he said. “I’m extremely humbled and grateful by all these renowned local restaurants agreeing to participate.”
Participating restaurants so far are Backwoods Crossing, Bumpa’s Local #349, Canopy Road, Coosh’s Bayou Rouge, Dog Et Al, Gordo’s, Gordo’s Northside, Habana’s Boardwalk, Jeri’s Midtown Cafe, Madison Social, McGowan’s Hops and Grapes, Railroad Square Craft House, Riccardo’s Restaurant and Sage: A Restaurant plus Fermentation Lounge.
“The flavor is definitely on point,” said Jeri Bradley Madden, owner of Jeri’s Midtown Cafe, which has created two sandwiches using the sausage. “It kicks everything up a notch but not too much. It has the perfect ratio of jalapeño and cheese.”
One of her sausage sandwiches featured the “Fire Station Dalmatian Cheddar Jalapeño” smoked sausage, smoked Gouda and fried eggs piled high on two Sister Schubert’s homemade rolls.
Jeri’s also dreamed up another item called the “Down and Dirty” sandwich combining the smoked sausage, roasted red and yellow peppers, cheddar cheese and a Crystal hot sauce ranch spread on a Tribeca baguette.
Sage is now offering the second version of its sausage. This first was called the “Holy Mole” and was garnished with a mole sauce.
This new Deliverance Dog creation features bacon-wrapped sausage with coleslaw, paired with rosemary French fries. Sage is donating proceeds from the sausage to its staff. (Top picture of Deliverance Dog, Sage),
Habana’s Boardwalk is offering an intriguing sandwich called choripan — popular in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay — that’s made with onions, peppers and tomatoes plus the Dirty Dogs sausage.
McGowan’s has fashioned a dish called “Fire Station Dalmation Chile Relleno” using wood- fired poblano peppers stuffed with Bumpy Road Farm cornbread, sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled pork rinds and the smoked sausage. From McGowan’s: “All this is bacon wrapped, egg white battered and fried. Topped with a roasted tomato ranchero sauce made with DEEP Brewing Company “Shallow End” Florida Lager and just a touch of Orchard Pond Organics Wildflower honey. Finished with crumbled Cotija cheese and fresh cilantro leaves.” Lots of local ingredients!
Bumpa’s has created a corn dog using its smoked sausage.
Fermentation Lounge is making a Mac Shack Sausage Melt.
Canopy Road has prepared a sausage Sammy.
Railroad Square Craft House dreamed up three ideas: red beans and rice topped with the sliced “Dirty Dog” (with the “secret aioli recipe” from Coosh’s); breakfast scramble with the smoked sausage and a breakfast burrito using the sausage instead of bacon.
Coosh’s used Deep Beer, Tasty Pastry bread and bacon from Giles Deli in this sausage recipe.
And more dishes are on the way.
Along with donating the sausage to restaurants, Cruz and Kaempfer delivered packages of the sausage to several home cooks around town. I was fortunate to get two packs and I spent the weekend thinking of ways I could cook them.
First, my husband and I simply sliced the sausage and cooked it in a skillet so we could better sample its taste without other ingredients. We served the sausage with fried eggs and fruit. “This sausage is so good,” said my husband. “This may be the best sausage I’ve ever had.”
High praise from this sausage fan. I then added the sausage to one of my favorite dishes: white beans with sage, garlic and fennel from the Milk Street “Tuesday Nights” cookbook by Christopher Kimball. The sausage added depth and flavor to the dish without overwhelming. One of the things that’s another plus is that most of the ingredients in this dish, like beans and canned tomatoes, are right out of the pantry.
Cruz said the next dog, called the “Cajun K-9,” will feature Register’s andouille sausage infused with pepper jack cheese and it should be available around Memorial Day. The third one released will be the “Gouda Boy” with smoked gouda cheese infused inside Register’s smoked sausage.
Cruz said he expects more restaurants to participate and they are planning to add places in Thomasville and Panama City.
“These restaurants are already out there doing a great job reacting to this crisis in innovative ways to serve our community, and we’re proud to support them and get their support in return,” Cruz said.
The sausage is now available in Publix and it should be for sale this weekend in Winn-Dixie, Fresh 4 Less and Piggly Wiggly with prospects in the works for other markets. Store prices can vary.
You can also get the Dirty Dogs now at $6.99 for a package, which includes three, nine-inch sausages at Tally Mac Shack at Happy Motoring, 1215 S. Adams St. or at Deep Brewing Company, 2524 Cathay Ct.
Here are some of the sausage dishes created by home cooks and local chefs. They look mighty good, too.
Danny Aller served the sausage with two dishes. Here he served it with blueberry buttermilk pancakes with butter and sugar on top, “which is a method my grandfather taught me when I was young and I love it on blueberry pancakes,” Danny said. He also prepared a classic sausage egg and cheese biscuit with a over easy runny egg and fresh blueberries.
The yummy looking hibachi is from Gretta Determan of TLH Ladies That Beer.
Sausage sizzling in a pan is made by Carlin Trammel of the Nerd Lunch podcast.
The tempting grilled sausage is cooked by talk show host Greg Tish.