A few months ago our local blogger group was invited to a reception at North Denver Sausage Co. The owner and president, Kathy Laurienti, wanted to introduce us to her dry Italian sausage, and the fresh Italian sausage that she sells under her Paisano sausage label.
Kathy’s late husband started Paisano Sausage Company a little over 30 years ago, and upon his death about a year ago Kathy took over the running of this small family operation. Wanting to expand her product line, she recently began producing her dry sausage.
Kathy and her staff make sausage every weekday. Health inspectors inspect her facilities every morning before production begins. Each batch of sausage is seasoned and blended by hand before being stuffed in natural casings.
The dry sausage is also made in much the same way but is dried by a process of being salted and air dried for a period of at least 19 days. Not only does this dry the sausage, but it preserves it by removing the moisture making this the perfect snack for hikers, campers or doomsday preppers (I am fascinated by this show) since it needs no refrigeration.
On the day we were at Kathy’s factory, she showed us around and introduced herself and her products before getting down to the important stuff, the eating and drinking. She had a sampling of each of her types of dried sausage, mild, medium and hot. With these sausages she served a bowl of caramel sauce and a bowl of marshmallow cream.
Now, I know this sounds really different but I can’t tell you how delicious it was. The savory, spicy, chewy dry sausages along with the sweetness of the caramel and marshmallow sauces were really a great flavor combination.
A little further down the table Kathy had prepared her fresh sausage her favorite way with potatoes, onions and green bell peppers. Her fresh sausage has a mild flavor with the perfect spark of anise flavor from the fennel she adds. If you’ve dined at any of the many Italian restaurants around the Denver area, you very well could have eaten Paisano’s sausage since Kathy mainly sells this product to area restaurants.
Kathy's favorite sausage recipe. Maybe she'll give us the recipe sometime.
Before we left that day Kathy provided us with beautiful gift baskets filled with an assortment of Italian specialty foods and a bottle of locally made wine from Balistreri Vineyards. Included in the basket were a couple of packages of Kathy’s dry sausage in mild and hot. Once home we quickly scarfed down the mild and saved the hot variety for my “research”.
Knowing that I really wanted to introduce you to the sweet/salty taste combo of the dry sausage with the sweet sauce, I decided to make it a bit more portable for those doomsday preppers and wrap it something sweet. I had a couple of failures first trying to make vanilla nougat and then a sort of creamy taffy to wrap it in. Both were disappointing so I went back to square 1 and decided to try a type of chewy praline. Voila! Fantastico and oh so easy.
If you don’t have one already, go buy an inexpensive candy thermometer (you should really have one anyway) and get started. If you want to buy some of North Denver Sausage Co.’s dry sausage for your candy, visit their website at www.northdenversausage.com and they’ll be happy to sell you some and ship it to your door.
Chewy Salted Dry Sausage Pralines
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 stick (4 ounces) butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
24 – 1/4" thick slices of dry Italian sausage (I like the hot)
2 teaspoons salt flakes
Lay 2 sheets of foil out flat on a heat proof surface. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Place sugars and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a boil (stop stirring once it boils). Let it cook until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Remove from the heat and add the butter, whisking until it is completely incorporated. Add the cream and whisk until it is incorporated as well. Return the mixture back to the medium heat and stirring frequently, bring the mixture back up to the boil and cook until the thermometer reads 242 degrees.
Working quickly, spoon 1 teaspoon of praline in 12 different spots, 3” apart, onto prepared foil sheets. Top each spot with a piece of sausage then another spoon of praline over the sausage. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining praline and sausage. Cool for at least 30 minutes. Wrap in plastic.
*If praline mixture starts to harden, replace it on a medium low heat for just a minute or two until it loosens.
**Sausage can also be replaced with pecans, walnuts, almonds or bacon bits.