Texas sausage makers - wieners
Every now and then I get a craving for a hot dog. Probably would happen more often if there were better dogs available but this doesn’t seem to be hot dog country. The sausage makers of SE Texas - Czech, German, Cajun - have mostly eschewed the fine-ground frankfurter type of sausage for the coarse ground variety and we have some very fine examples of those.
There is the old reliable James Coney Island here in Houston but that’s more of a comfort food than a chowish experience for me and their wieners are very uninteresting - it’s the chili/cheese/onion/mustard thing that I go for. Once you’ve had a really good wiener it’s impossible to be satisfied with theirs, the average supermarket dog, or even most of the more upscale frankfurters available locally. The best dogs I’ve found in Houston are the Boar’s Head natural casing all-beef franks and the buffalo wieners at Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack under the Westpark Toll Road, served on a crusty baguette-type roll or available to buy and take home to prepare. I’ve tried numerous examples of the Chicago style dog around town and don’t care for that style.
Some time ago I tried the wieners from City Market in Schulenburg and liked them almost as much as the Boar’s Head. It’s been so long now I can’t remember if they were skinless or all-beef or not.
Recently I picked up 2 varieties in Shiner. Patek’s Grocery Store and Meat Market on the east end of town on US 90-A, next to the big Catholic Church, makes a variety of sausages including their Shiner Dogs which are bright red pork and beef creations that are very good – much better than the average supermarket dog and better than I remember the Boar’s Head pork and beef skinless variety that I tried some time ago.
On the opposite end of town, 90-A at 16th Street I think, Maeker’s is a combination package store, mini-meat market and bar (parking can require careful maneuvering) that makes a small variety of sausages including a very unique bright red pork and beef wiener that I’m very impressed with. They must use very good cuts of meat for these dogs and the spices are very good – they are very savory, more interesting than any frankfurter I’ve ever had. They’re ready-to-eat but benefit from warming up (Patek’s dogs require cooking). They’re so good I’m reluctant to use them on the average supermarket hot dog bun or with regular yellow mustard but I haven’t figured out yet just what to serve them with. Maeker's jalapeno cheese summer sausage is also very good as are the other sausages from them I've sampled, but that's another thread.
I know Kreutz in Lockhart sells wieners and I think Novosad’s in Hallettsville does too, but I’ve never tried them.
Any Hounds know of any of these or any others worth trying?
I'm no weiner afficianado but you might check out Kuby's in Dallas. German market that makes their own weiners, brats, sausages in house (and have a restaurant where they serve them too). Whole Foods of all places actually has a jumbo all natural all beef hot dog that is the best "non exotic" dog I've had.
Not sure how far you're willing to travel, but in the Czech town of West there are 2 great meat markets. The first is Nemecek Bros. I love their weiners and ring bologna. My dad prefers the Hot Chubbies and the West Specials (pork coarse ground hot dogs...kinda garlicy). Also, there is a bakery with a Smokehouse there, I think Ole Czech Smokehouse. They also have good sausages and kolaches.
Here's the site for Nemecek's:
no body wants to read this, but central market makes good to very good sausage. wieners is what you will seldom find, but the chicken/feta/spinach and other varieties have never disappointed. if you're having a tube steak party, get hebrew national for the kids and a couple dozen mixed plates of CM in-house sausage for the adults and teens. CM is a bit spendy (4.99/lb on deep discount sale), but they n-e-v-e-r disappoint. jmho.
Years ago when I was growing up, most of the small towns in the German section sold sauságe made by some of the local farmers and it was almost all good. My father´s oldest brother lived on a farm in Round Top where my family settled when we immigrated in the 1850s and made some of the best sausage I have ever had. Now I live in Germany and most of the sausage I get here isn´t better than Uncle Arno´s homemade sausage and the bread isn´t as good as Aunt Sophie´s or Alt Frau W´s homemade bread either. Here we have Frankfurters (the original ones) and Rindwurst, beef sausage similar to a hot dog and they are both excellent. I´m not surprised that West has good sausage too since the Bohemians make good sausage and also the Poles make good sausage. See if there are any sausage makers in Panna Maria south of San Antonio. Gruessen aus Ost Deutschland!
There are still lots of farmers who make sausage in the Czech-German belt - some of them have started companies for just that purpose! A drive along 90-A from Houston to San Antonio will take you past many, some that only sell on premises, many with signs promising something like 'best sausage in Texas.' Of course all the great bbq joints make their own and there isn't a bad one in the bunch.
Our sausage makers are a great part of our culinary heritage, often overshadowed by the bbq, chicken fried steak, chili, Tex-Mex and so on. I've known people from other parts of the country to be astounded at how good sausage can be when they experience some of the local products.
Besides the German, Czech and other nationalities represented, we also have the influence and contributions of some of our neighbors of the Cajun persuasion who know a thing or two about stuffing a casing, too.
Good to hear you discovered Maeker's. My family is from Shiner originally and I grew up on Patek's hot dogs, but in recent years have gone over to Maeker's cause the skin is more to my liking. More crunch. So, I use their sausages instead of hot dogs.
Next time you're there, ask to see the round token from my great grandfather's saloon (August Schramm).
Also, I have found and enjoyed some very excellent sausages from (some small town in Texas) at Hebert's on Richmond. They carry them.
re: Jay Francis
Poffenberger's? I think I recall you mentioning that on some other forum or perhaps another thread here. I forgot to look for them when I went to Hebert's. They also carry a couple of varieties at Spec's downtown. The Jalapeno Cheese Summer Sausage carries a sticker that it was the Grand Champion 2007 of the Texas Meat Producer's Assoc. (but I don't think it's as good as Maeker's!)
I first found Poffenberger's at Hinze's in Wharton about 4 or 5 years ago but I didn't see it on my most recent visit there about a year ago.
I think I'll plan a trek out to Bellville soon.
I have enjoyed many of your posts. I have been on a search for good suasages as well. I have had all the usuals in DFW for weiners (Kuby's, Rudolphs, and Central Market). I like Kubys but sometimes wish they were a bit spicier (love the smoke taste though and the crunch). Rudolphs has crunch and spice but not a lot of smoke. I just didn't like Central Markets (I don't like most of their sausages, JMHO). I do however like the sausages from Fischer's Meat Market in Muenster, TX. I travel there about once a month to stock up on their fresh ring braut. Now I know this is a weiner post (they also have those) I usually get the ring braut. It has been consistently the best I have had for a number of years. I have eaten sausages from Nemechek's in West to taste a difference in the person making the sausage as from my younger years. I would definitely try to make it to Muenster (not much there exciting cept for the GermanFest) but they do have the friendliest and most trusting local stores (Bayerns and Fischer's). As for the hot dog bun and yellow mustard suggestion without question get the Dusseldorf Mustard from Fischers (made in the store), slap some emmanthaler cheese, grill some onions and kraut and I would suggest getting a crusty roll (i.e. Bahn Mi or a french baguette from Tom Thumb/Randall's). That would suffice as a $8 hot dog at any place. I have yet to try Old Town Meat Market in Lewisville or Hirsch's Specialty Meats in Plano for their weiners. I do know that Old Town Meat Market makes a great summer sausage.
Old Town Meat Market (no website but let me know if you need anything I live right by it)
Thanks. I had never even heard of Muenster, TX. I recall seeing a thread on another forum a couple of years ago of someone inquiring about sausage makers in the N. Texas area and there were no responses so I thought maybe it was just a Central and SE Texas thing. Looks like I need to schedule a trip up there. Fischers looks great.
Ah, I was just telling my wife how I never ever had a "hot dog" until college. Growing up in a Czech heavy area, we used market weiners for our hot dogs. So, so much better. Put them on the grill and make the best chili dog ever. Sometimes they're marketed as pencil links or breakfast sausage (Patek's does this). Patek's are available at most HEBs and CM.