I’ve previously puked out a lot of words on the Jack Link company, which went from a teeny tiny country butcher shop in a teeny tiny Wisconsin town to a global powerhouse manufacturers and distributor of meat snacks. I even stopped by their outlet store, near their original factory in Minong, Wisconsin last year. It’s about 30 miles south of Duluth-Superior on U.S. 53.
The company has prospered and prospered, and grown despite all the odds against them, their small town origin and the usual family in-fighting and lawsuits that often occur in a closely held company.
Jack Link’s has come out with a line of smoked sausages in different flavors. They’re pretty good-sized, four to a 12 ounce package and sell for around $4.00. So they are about a buck apiece, which is also about what I pay for my favorite natural casing wieners.
I picked up the ‘regular flavor’ rolled a couple in the cast iron to heat them up. (Smoked products are generally full cooked, as are these).
I have an opinion or two about the sausages. They are made for Jack Link by a contract manufacturer near Green Bay called Salm Partners; the company was started by four brothers and a co-hort in 2004, to take advantage of ultra-new technology in the sausage and wiener business, including ‘spray out’ collagen casings and cooking in the package technology. In a video on their website, Salm says these processes make a product preferred by customers and that have a longer shelf life. The factory is located at 70 Woodrow Street, Denmark, WI .
Sidebar: the package makes a couple of claims: “no fillers” and “hardwood smoke.” These are some of the undoubtedly unregulated terms in the food industry,
To me, some of the stated ingredients (corn syrup solids, hydrolyzed corn protein) ARE fillers. Hydrolyzed corn protein is a kind of MSG, but to my understanding is rarely used in foods, due to its strong fermented flavor. As for “hardwood smoked?” The manufacturer’s video clearly shows the ‘smoking process’ at their plant is a shower of liquid smoke, which to me, isn’t “hardwood smoked.” There are plenty of manufacturers out there still smoking with wood.
It’s the same problem I have with restaurants who have “Kobe Hamburgers” on their menu, or that call California sparkling wines “Champagne.” Bullshit.
The collagen casing on this sausage is very light, not much snap, which is why I prefer natural casings. The flavor? Kinda weird, to me. In my opinion, smoked sausages should be ‘smokier’ and have a distinctive flavor from spices. The biggest flavor I get out of this sausage comes from the soy sauce powder ingredient. Just doesn’t fit.
There are dozens of choices for smoked sausage buyers; this one (nor Guy Fieri’s) shouldn’t show up on your shopping list.
Jack Links Smoked Sausage Review