The Local Ingredient: Sausage, a link to local farms

French lentil and sausage soup. —Photo by Catherine Walthers

Cooks can choose from a wide variety of sausages on the Island. There’s spicy chorizo, traditional hot and sweet Italian sausages, organic kielbasa, lamb sausage, and even bratwurst. At least seven farms from Edgartown to Chilmark carry their own farm-raised sausage, so it is easy to swing into a farmstand to pick some up from a freezer. Down-Island Cronig’s Market recently started carrying fresh (i.e. not frozen) sausages from Beetlebung Farm Meat.

“It is very exciting to have our sausage and bacon for sale at Cronig’s,” Beetlebung Farm Meat owner Josh Scott said. Along with his wife Lindsey and their two children, Mr. Scott grazes cattle, pigs, and sheep at in Chilmark. The farm also sells its sausage — such as garlic and red wine pork sausage — in attractive glass freezers on the porch at Beetlebung Tree Care in West Tisbury. “My favorite is our bratwurst,” Mr. Scott said. “It is produced with Vermont microbrewed beer.” A quick weeknight dinner in the Scott household is loose chorizo, browned and added to a tub of Pam’s Pesto and served over pasta. “The kids love it, and dinner is ready in 15 minutes after a long work or school day,” Mr. Scott said.

“Sausage tends to exist at a price point that is a little more accessible,” Eric Glasgow of Grey Barn Farm in Chilmark said. His farm stocks six or seven sausage varieties. “It’s easier for people to come in and grab and go. Everybody knows what to do with sausage.” One of his family’s go-to meals is hot Italian sausage with pasta and kale.

Mr. Glasgow adds that the hot and sweet Italian sausage is sold in 1-pound bulk packages, rather than links, to keep the price lower.

The locally available sausage is full of flavor, and often contains less fat than its corporate counterpart. After sautéeing some in a skillet, it’s obvious there are fewer pools of fat to mop up with a paper towel. That’s a rarity.

The farmers note the care and treatment that goes into raising their animals. “Through breed selection, rotational grazing, ample space, healthy grass, organic feeds, fresh sausage ingredients, and no nitrate smoking, we raise healthy animals which produce the most delicious meat possible,” Mr. Scott said.

Grey Barn owner Eric Glasgow agrees. “I think part of the reason the sausage is good, it’s based on something good,” he said. “It’s all organically raised; the pigs are raised outside.”

Grey Barn also carries nitrate-free, organic beef frankfurters, and a veal and pork bratwurst made by a Connecticut producer using traditional European methods. “I think they’re Polish or German,” Mr. Glasgow said. The method incorporates ice into the food processor along with the meat, to emulsify it with the fat. “That’s why you get that smooth texture,” Mr. Glasgow said. “Those sausages are cooked, and when they cook, all the water cooks out.”

The bratwurst, like frankfurters, reheats in minutes on the grill or in a hot skillet. They’re perfect served in a hot dog bun with some really good sauerkraut.

Since my house sits across the street from the Grey Barn Farm, I find buying their bratwurst, Italian or kielbasa sausage a good, easy, and inexpensive dinner alternative for a change of pace. My favorite is their mildly spicy pork chorizo, which boosts the flavor of my French lentil soup with added leeks, carrots, tomatoes, and spinach. It adds additional protein too — a nice hearty meal served with some bread or a salad.

Another great-tasting local sausage features Island-raised lamb. Lamb sausage can be found at Allen Farm (when available), Mermaid Farm and Dairy, and the FARM Institute in Edgartown. “I would definitely say our lamb sausage is our most popular,” Lindsay Brown, the marketing and events director at the FARM Institute, said. The lamb sausage is still available, along with pork kielbasa. “The mild pork sausage is sold out because we only raised two pigs last year, so we had very little with start with.”

French Lentil and Sausage Soup

By Catherine Walthers

Serves 4 to 6

This lentil soup uses the French green lentils, also called lentils du Puy. These are smaller than the brown lentils, cook more quickly, and hold their shape for a better appearance. The soup is done in less than 40 minutes.

1 onion, diced small

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 whole leek, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, rinsed and sliced crosswise

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup red or white wine (optional)

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced

½ tsp. dried thyme, or sprigs of fresh

8 cups water

1 cup French green lentils (du Puy), rinsed

½ to ¾ pound of your favorite sausage (I use chorizo), removed from casing

1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 container (5 oz.) baby spinach

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, sauté the onions in the oil over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the leek and garlic and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, thyme, water, and lentils. Bring to a boil,

then simmer, partially covered until lentils are nearly tender, about 20 minutes. While soup is cooking, cook the sausage in a skillet, breaking it up as you go. Set aside.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and simmer another 10 minutes, or until lentils are fully cooked. Adjust seasonings, add sausage and spinach, and simmer for an additional few minutes until spinach is wilted.

Where to Buy Local Sausage:

Allen Farm Sheep & Wool, 421 South Road, Chilmark
Look for the sign when their lamb sausage, based on a family recipe, is available.

Beetlebung Farm Meat, 22 Cournoyer Road, West Tisbury
Self-serve freezers, outside the Beetlebung Tree Care company, with beer bratwurst sausage, garlic and red wine sausage, kielbasa, chorizo, and hot and sweet Italian pork sausage. Some varieties sold at Cronig’s Market.

Blackwater Farm, 40 Cottle Road, behind Cottles Lumber, West Tisbury
Self-serve farmstand with breakfast sausage, hot and sweet Italian sausage, chorizo and ground pork in their freezer.

The FARM Institute, Katama Farm, 14 Aero Ave., Katama
Farm stand with grass-fed lamb sausage and pork kielbasa. (Mild and spicy Italian flavored sausage is out for now.)

The Grey Barn, 22 South Road, Chilmark
Self-serve farmstand with freezers of organic sweet and hot Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, kielbasa, chorizo, bratwurst and all-beef, nitrate-free hot dogs.

Mermaid Farm and Dairy, 9 Middle Road, Chilmark
Self-serve farmstand with grass-fed Icelandic lamb sausage, including lamb chorizo.

Morning Glory Farm, 120 Meshaket Road, off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, Edgartown
Farmstand with sweet and hot Italian sausage among others.