Utah sausage makers use family recipes and traditional techniques to make a link with the past

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Bratwurst at Bewilder Brewing, a tavern in Salt Lake City whose menu has many kinds of sausages.

Three Utah businesses are revitalizing the popularity of one of the world’s oldest ways of preserving meat: making sausage.

The companies are taking the age-old processes — using spices and salt to preserve and flavor any number of proteins — to make sausages by hand, using recipes from around the world and techniques passed down through generations.

“Every culture has a sausage, a bread and a dumpling,” said Justin Field, executive chef at Bewilder Brewing (445 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City; bewilderbrewing.com; 385-528-3840).

Field’s menu is based on research into various cultures, as well as his work after culinary school under the tutelage of a sausage maker in Astoria, N.Y. “I didn’t realize what an opportunity that was until just a couple years ago,” Field said.

Field jumped at the chance to build Bewilder’s opening menu around sausages. “The only recipe we use that’s from that shop is the spicy Italian sausage,” he said — a blend of pork, fennel, cayenne pepper and caraway ($8).

“Every other recipe I’ve put together from research,” he said.

For example, his bratwurst ($8) is based on the Heissiche, a regional variation in west-central Germany. Bewilder’s version is served on a bed of house-fermented sauerkraut to compliment the pork sausage spiced with ginger, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom.

A variety of other countries’ traditional stuffed casings — such as a Filipino chicken Longanisa ($9) and an Argentine beef-and-pork chorizo criollo ($11) — rotate on and off the menu. (There’s also a vegetarian option, using the plant-based Beyond Meat substitute.)

Bewilder co-owner Ross Metzger noted that the sausages helped the fledgling brewery pivot with the pandemic.

“We tried to add value to Bewilder and offer our customers more,” he said. “We started with our raw sausage pre-orders, an online portal for people to order food to go and kept adding beers to our lineup.”

Two other companies, Gerome’s Market and Schtele Sausage Company, have gone back to their roots — returning to a family tradition of sausage making and selling their links at local farmers markets throughout the summer.

For many diners, Chef Craig Gerome may be a familiar name. He’s churned out creative dishes at Handle, HSL and most recently at the Yurt at Solitude.

He’s returning to his childhood to open a Utah version of his Italian family’s Gerome’s Market.

The original Gerome’s Market was in Bristol, Pa., a heavily Italian town northeast of Philadelphia. Owned by Gerome’s grandparents, Gerome’s Market sold house-made sausages, fresh meats, cured meats and cheeses you’d regularly find in an Italian grocery store.

(Photo courtesy of Craig Gerome) Silvio Gerome makes sausages in the “butcher’s room” of the original Gerome’s Market in Bristol, Pa. His grandson, Craig Gerome, has launched his own Gerome’s Market in Utah.

“They even had a small restaurant built into the shop, where you [could] dine in as well,” Gerome said. “Most of my childhood was spent here. I would spend a lot of time just watching everyone take orders or make sausage or even prepare plates for guests. Even being so young at the time, I still remember how fascinated I was that so many people would come through the shop and leave so happy.”

After 15 years as a professional chef, Gerome’s passion for sourcing ingredients and cooking professionally led him to create a 2020 version of Gerome’s Market (available at farmers markets in Murray, Liberty Park and South Jordan through mid-October, or online at geromesmarket.com).

Most of Gerome’s sausages follow the original recipes and reflect the exact way that they are still made at his father’s shop — Gerome’s Sausage Company (geromesausage.com) in Levittown, Pa.

“Sweet plain, Italian fennel, pepper and cheese, and hot Italian fennel are the originals that my grandfather created, and some of the others are my dad’s recipes which he made,” Gerome said, beaming.

“I am, however, rotating a few new additions each week that are my own recipes as well.” These, Gerome added, will change frequently, “as the chef in me is hyper-seasonal and using local Utah staples for sausage has been pretty rewarding.”

(Heather L. King | Special to The Salt Lake Tribune) Packages of sausages from Gerome’s Market, a Utah company founded by chef Craig Gerome.

As the summer farmers market season winds down, Gerome will move sales to an online store with a delivery model, with the hope of offering a pay-as-you-go-subscription for sausages and other staples.

In Ogden, Brad Staley, owner of Schtele Sausage Company (available at farmers markets in Ogden, Wheeler Farm and Park City through mid-October, or online at schtelesausage.com), makes the sausages he learned from his dad, who learned from his grandfather, Johan Friderich Schtele.

“Our bratwurst recipe came from Germany and slowly gained a Russian influence from my ancestors from Franzosen, Russia,” Staley explained.

“I’ve been making sausage with my dad and brothers since I was a child,” he said, recalling the 100 pounds of sausage made every year late in fall with a hand grinder/stuffer. “My parents would give 20 to 30 pounds away to friends and neighbors for Christmas presents. We would burp up the garlic on the school bus, and the whole town knew we had just made sausage for the season,” he said, laughing.

(Heather L. King | Special to The Salt Lake Tribune) Bratwursts from Schtele Sausage, an Ogden company that makes traditional bratwurst and other recipes.

Schtele Sausage Company offers their traditional family bratwurst recipe, along with a sweet Sicilian Italian sausage, five links for $8.

Because of COVID-19 pandemic, Staley has found pork to be in short supply. Even so, he intends to introduce a breakfast sausage, andouille and kielbasa to his offerings in the near future.

Heather L. King owns slclunches.com and can be found on social media, @slclunches.