Two weeks ago I tried out the delicious all-beef Froman hot dogs from Gilbert's Craft Sausages in Wisconsin, and with Memorial Day right around the corner I thought I'd give some of their other sausages a try on the grill. Gilbert's is a new company that strikes a great balance between modern and traditional with some really delicious high-quality, all-natural uncured dogs and sausages.
First up is the Shebeergan, a bratwurst made with pork and Hinterland Beer from Green Bay. The brat is arguably Wisconsin's signature encased meat, with its own set of rules and guidelines that are distinct from the world of hot dogs. No yellow mustard, and they have to be grilled or cooked in beer, which is how I did the first one—steamed in wheat beer and topped with German mustard. Simple and delicious but not much in the looks department.
The next brat was grilled and garnished in the traditional Wisconsin manner of pickles, raw onions and more German mustard. Although I messed up big time with the hot dog bun, apparently the proper vehicle for a real Sheboygan Brat is the Bavarian-ish Hard Roll aka "Semmel Roll."
The grilled brats were incredible, just charred enough that the skin started to bust open in a few spots. Another one that I steamed in beer then finished on the grill was even better. These things stay juicy and delicious pretty much any way you cook them.
Next up is the Catalana, Gilbert's South American style pork sausage studded with mozzarella and flavored with chipotle and lime. The mozzarella made me think of the awesome Torta Salchicha that I had in Brooklyn a while back, chock full of Mexican goodness including lots of Mexican mozzarella aka Oaxaca string cheese.
The sausage was split and grilled to create a flat surface for piling on grilled jalapenos, onions, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cilantro, roasted garlic-paprika aioli and plenty of Mexi-mozz. My local Latin-American grocery was all out of torta bread but the guy recommended a soft hoagie roll with the ends cut off which worked perfectly.
I toasted the sandwich lightly on the grill, only pressed enough to flatten each side but not smash the whole thing or melt the cheese, as close as I could get to those awesome sandwiches at Puebla Mini Mart (still the best tortas I've ever had).
This was the clear favorite of my hot dog tasting team. The Catalana is not as heavily spiced as you might imagine from the description, with just the right amount of seasoning that the flavor doesn't take over or get lost in the other ingredients. And the toasted, cut-on-the-bias hoagie roll trick fooled everybody. ("Where did you find this delicious Mexican bread?")
Everything I've tried from Gilbert's has been spectacular, including the beef and blue cheese Ouisconsin, which just recently got picked up by Costco for distribution in their Midwest stores—a huge milestone for such a new, small company.
Gilbert's Craft Sausages
For more info on retail locations and online ordering, go to gilbertssausages.com
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.