Tasting Session: Sausages & Cured Meats


The past few Wednesdays, I've been hosting 'Tasting Sessions' with friends. These tasting sessions highlight a chosen food where friends come over to share, learn, taste and talk about the food we're focusing on. Last night, we had a tasting of sausages and cured meats of various flavors, styles, textures and aromas. Very much like wine tasting, many of the tasting points apply to sausages as well. Things we took notice of during our tasting:

Appearance - How was it cut? What shape was the sausage/cured meat? Is it mainly lean meat, any fatty deposits, even distribution of both? What color is it

Aroma - How does it smell? Are there hints of herbs, spice, fruits, florals, something else? What does the smell remind you of?

Taste - How does it taste? Salty, sweet, bitter? Any aftertaste or lingering flavors?

Texture - Does it have a bite or chew to it or does it melt in your mouth?

To pair with our sausages and cured meats, I prepared some additional eats including:

crudite platter with vegetable dip

honey wheat pretzel sticks with 2 kinds of mustard dips

macaroni & cheese with pancetta
tomato & goat cheese tarts

fresh baked bread, brought in by my friend John

fresh fruit platters to cleanse the palates

Beers: Goose Island's Harvest Ale & 312

Wines: red & white

It was so interesting to be able to try a whole assortment of sausages and cured meats at one time. Each has a different texture, flavor, appearance, after taste, aroma. Here's what was on our tasting menu:

Daniele Salame with coarse black pepper - I found this to be extremely peppery. The rub/coating was pretty thick and maybe it was too thick. The pepper seemed to mask the flavor of the sausage if not, completely.

AmyLou brand Italian Chicken Sausage with bell peppers and onions - This has a nice flavor overall. There were hints of fennel but the Italian notes of dried herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary) were evident. Being that this was a chicken sausage, there was a slight sweetness as well. The bits of peppers and onions rounded out the flavors nicely.

Ham Prosciutto - This had a salty front but it sweetened a bit afterwards. I find that this cured meat is best eaten right away. If allowed to sit, it takes on a leathery texture.

Lam Prosciutto - This was definitely gamey in both smell and flavor. It's an acquired taste, especially because it has a very strong aroma.

Finocchiona Fennel Sausage - This was delicious and had a nice consistency about it. The fennel was definitely prominent but not off putting at all. With the evenly dispersed pockets of fat, it melted in my mouth leaving a nice aftertaste. It goes especially well with white wine.

Farmarli Sopressata - This was the spiciest of them all. Great flavor up front but the spice and heat doesn't hit until afterwards. I enjoyed this all on its own and its great with red wine.

AmyLou's brand Apple Gouda Chicken Sausage - If there was a sausage to ring in the fall season, this would be it. The bits of gouda cheese throughout was deliciously paired with the sweetness of apple mixed in. I enjoyed this with beer, specifically the Goose Island Harvest Ale.

Lomo Curado: cured pork loin from spain - This was delicate with very little fat. Made with pork loin, it took on the flavor of the rub, which was made with chipotle chiles. It had some spice to it but it was very mild. I loved how this just melted and the lingering flavor had a subtle hint of sweetness too.

Columbus Herb Salame - This was much different from the pepper crusted sausage. The herbs worked nicely with the sausage and it had an even amount of fat that the herbs helped cut through. This was delicious with wine.

If you're interested in learning more about a specific food or ingredient, a tasting with friends is a great way to do just that. For more tasting ideas that I've done, you can check out the others in my blog here - TASTING SESSIONS


  1. Hi Joelen -
    Can I ask where you picked up the majority of the sausage? I'm looking for a place in the city where I can get good Spanish Chorizo.

  2. Hi Chris! Some were picked up at various ethnic delis, Pastoral, Paulina's and Trader Joes. For spanish chorizo, I would try Paulina's in Lincoln Square - they tend to have a good selection of cured meats.