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Great non-pork sausage, cured meats?

Having married a non-pork eater, and I myself being a fanatic of all things salumi and embutido, I'm curious what are the better (or best) non-pork sausages or cured meats you've run across. I know sausage doesn't have to be pork, neither does cured meats (e.g. bresaola in Italy), but it is hard to find great sausage etc that isn't pork.

I don't consider the chicken/turkey sausages to be particularly good, though they come through in a pinch. Beef sausage is too lean, doesn't have that unctuous fatty quality pork sausage does, and thus comes across a bit heavy-handed (I'm thinking the beef kielbasas and the like). Maybe I should be looking for lamb sausages, like merguez, but I have never seen it available in grocery stores in the US (maybe I'm looking in the wrong place?).

Well, anyhow, I'm sure other pork-lovers are in my position due to marital constraints, so any help at all from you guys would be great!

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  1. I have dry cured Duck, Salmon and beef (bresaola) and they are all amazing. Try Michael Rhulman's Charcuterie, the art of smoking and curing meats. There are pages and pages on non traditional smoked cured and salted meats.

    1. In my area, cured venison and elk sausages are quite common and very delicious. If you know any hunters, they might have leads. Hunters (especially trophy hunters who were mostly after antlers and the like) I knew growing up would give their excess meat to a local butcher who made it into these amazing cured sausages -- spicy, gamey, peppery... yum.

      The Whole Foods here just started carrying merguez -- lamb is having a bit of a resurgence in the US, but depending on where you live, it still might be hard to find.

      3 Replies
      1. re: LauraGrace

        I'll cross my fingers and check my local WF, thanks!

        1. re: LauraGrace

          I believe the butcher my father-in-law brings his hunting meat to adds pork shoulder to the sausages. Elk seems like it would make a very lean product on its own.

          1. re: LauraGrace

            LauraGrace what area are you from? Our neighbor in Alberta used to hunt and give us cured elk sausage during the holidays, I miss that childhood staple, I'm trying to figure out who or where I can order some from!

          2. This probably is not what you wish to see as a suggestion, but here it is anyway.

            I'm very partial to Hebrew National hot dogs. They are not quite as exotic as other kinds of non-pork sausage. Having stated that however, 'mi piace molto i salumi italiani.'

            2 Replies
            1. re: ChiliDude

              Friendly grammar tip, it is "mi piacciono ..." since you're referring to a plural. I too like Hebrew National dogs!

              1. re: fame da lupo

                Grazie tante. Ha ragione. Mi dispiace ma i miei antenati non erano italiani.

            2. Mario's dad, Armo Batali, makes a lamb prosciutto at Salumi. Sadly, I never tried it while I lived in Seattle.

              So you can't keep any pork products in the house, either?

              2 Replies
              1. re: pdxgastro

                That's a great store, unfortunately I have only visited once in my life as I live in MA.

                1. re: fame da lupo

                  They sell mail order, but I don't know if any of those are pork-free.

                  http://www.salumicuredmeats.com/

              2. If you have access to a Chinese supermarket or butcher, look into Chinese Sausages...the popular one is made of pork, but the liver sausages are surprisingly good as well. You put them in the water you cook your rice in and they steam....it flavors the rice and makes a nice addition. Many restaurants make Fried Rice with the sausages.

                1. There are many great recipes to make your own beef or bison sausage. The following is my recipe for 1 lb. grass-fed lean ground beef. If the meat is too dry, add 1/3 cup olive oil to the mix.

                  1 tsp ground sage; ¼ tsp crushed thyme; ½ tsp dried savory; ½ tsp salt; 1 tsp pepper; 1/8 tsp cayenne; ¼ tsp nutmeg; ¼ tsp kelp; 1 clove garlic (minced).
                  Combine ALL ingredients. Mix well. Place in airtight container. Chill in refrigerator 4 - 24 hours to allow flavors to blend. Cook as desired.

                  1. Nobody has said Pastrami or Corned beef yet , so how about Pastrami or corned beef!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                      If you have space in your fridge for an 8 quart stock pot for one week, you can make your own corned beef that is far superior to any that you can buy at the super markets. Furthermore, you can make it to suit your own taste. Your own recipe can contain no nitrates or MSG, and it can be made from a wonderfully lean cut of meat. It need not be the traditional brisket. Any roast of you choose will do nicely.
                      Most recipes call for sugar, cinnamon, cloves and pickling spices. We prefer using dill only, much less sugar, and a bit less salt than is usually called for. We also prefer using 'Redmond Real Salt'.
                      Try it yourself using a large non-reactive stock pot, or leakproof , plactic bag. You'll thank me.

                      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                        If there's enough of a Middle Eastern population where you live, the charcuterie from that side of the Mediterranean (merguez, for instance!) is pretty good. Basturma = another take on pastrami; a market near me has it in the deli case, and I intend to try it.

                        Beef sausage is something I love, but it's never the meltingly unctuous stuff that's made from pork. At its best it's things like summer sausage, Lebanon bologna, beef salami, beef knackwurst. Big problem is beef fat just is not particularly yummy all by itself; lots of people love lardo, but who wants to gnaw on a block of suet?

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I was just going to mention basturma! My Armenian friends love the stuff. It's traditionally cooked into scrambled eggs for a yummy breakfast dish.

                          Be forewarned, the stuff is potent -- its garlicky aroma will knock your socks off and seep through your pores for the rest of the day.

                          1. re: operagirl

                            You have just convinced me to try it! Garlic is my favorite vegetable … lucky I married a woman of similar proclivities.

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              Aha! Lucky you. Let us all know how you like it!