by David Cecelski
When I ordered a homemade pickled hot sausage at Moore’s Grocery and
Grill, my waitress picked the sausage out of the fiery red brine with tongs and
brought it to me on a napkin. “They’re very popular,” the grill cook told me.
My waitress was not impressed. I’m pretty sure that
I saw her wince and turn a little pale at the sight of them.
I was on US 41 in Comfort, a little community in Jones County,
and Beulaville. You can get a homemade hot pickled sausage there for a dollar.
One of the grill’s other cooks makes the pickled hot
sausages. She wasn’t there that day, but the grill cook on duty told me that
she makes the old-fashioned delicacy by steeping sausage in Texas Pete
(vinegar, hot peppers, salt) and adding extra cayenne pepper. The sausage
marinates in that sauce for weeks and months.
A 5-gallon jar of the hot pickled sausages sat on
the grill’s counter. I saw 3 or 4 more big jars in a cabinet by the stove.
Pickling is an ancient way of preserving pork sausage, but it’s not something I
see every day.
Holding the sausage at arm’s length, my waitress put
mine on the napkin and set it in front of me. She said that a lot of people eat
them with white bread or a hot dog bun, so they can sop up the dark red brine.
I decided that I’d try mine straight— maybe a
mistake. Before me, I found a long link sausage that reminded me of a giant
Vienna sausage. The red brine quickly soaked my napkin. And the flavor, well,
all I’m going to say about the flavor is that they’re really hot and really
juicy and not for the meek of palate.
NCFOOD is the North Carolina Folklife Institute’s blog exploring our state’s traditional cooking and foodways. Every highway and byway in the state is a potential jumping off point for a food adventure, whether discovering the Restaurante Rosa de Saron in Sampson County or the Pakse Café in Greensboro.
You’ll find stories and personal experiences about farmers and food artisans, local recipes, and great traditional eateries -- a celebration of the rich and diverse food traditions of North Carolina. Celebrate the magic that happens when many cultures come together around a common table.
Title photo of Altapass Orchard by Cedric N. Chatterley