Great New York State Hot Dogs: Hartmann's Old World Sausages

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

The exceptional wieners from Hartmann's Old World Sausages are some of my favorite pork and beef dogs, and are the dogs of choice at Brooklyn's Bark. So on a recent trip up North, I decided to try a few more of the many varieties of German-style sausages that Hartmann's makes. Here are four great ones.

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For the tasting, all of the sausages were slow-grilled over live coals and tasted plain, as well as with mustard and sauerkraut in a bun.

The Best: Swiss Brat

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The Swiss Brat were by far my favorite sausages of the bunch. Made with snappy pork casings and plump at five to a pound, they've got an incredibly creamy, light texture and mild flavor. The meat is a combination of pork and veal with plenty of eggs and milk added. Spicier and richer in flavor than the Bockwurst, they fall somewhere between a garlicky New York-style beef frank and a mild Weisswurst.

I'd be happy eating this one straight out of a bun, slathered with mustard, or even as a dinner frank with a side of rösti and sauerkraut.

The Mild One: Weisswurst

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Big, fat pork and veal sausages in a pork casing that come four to a pound, the Weisswurst are the most mildly flavored of the lot, with plenty of warm spices like cloves and allspice, and a bright splash of lemon juice. Hartmann's calls them the ultimate summer sausage, and I'm inclined to agree. Tender and rich yet snappy, light yet full flavored, they're a fine example of the form.

The Big and the Bold: Knackwurst

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Smoky and garlicky, these pork and veal Knackwurst are significantly meatier and firmer than the rest, with a decisive bounce. Knackwurst are known for their crisp, ready-to-pop skin which, as you can see, ended up popping a little prematurely in my case. This does not always happen to me, I swear.

In any case, they remained plenty juicy and snappy even after the casings burst—the mark of a well-made emulsified sausage. Next time I'd go for a heartier bun than the hot dog buns I had on hand. Crusty bread with plenty of mustard and sauerkraut is the way to go.

The Hot Dog Alternative: Bockwurst

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Though a traditional Bockwurst is usually spiced with paprika and occasionally smoked, Hartmann's is neither. Rather, it's a pork and veal sausage flavored with white pepper, parsley, and lemon juice stuffed six to a pound in lamb casings, making for an extra-long frank that hangs out enticingly over the ends of the buns. Milder than a normal hot dog with a juicier, more tender texture, they make for a great alternative to add to your normal wiener-fest.

All of these sausages are available at Wegman's, or can be ordered online direct from Hartmann's