Sausages So Good You’ll Want to Know How They’re Made
Kielbasa from J&E SmallGoods. Photographer: Haemi Lee for Bloomberg Businessweek; Food Stylist: Sue Li; Prop Stylist: Jacqueline Draper

Sausages So Good You’ll Want to Know How They’re Made


(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Steaks and chops are the heroes of butcher shop cases, but why not sausages? Surely elevating humble ground meat with spices is a more ambitious endeavor. “Kielbasa” is Polish for sausage, but elsewhere it’s often synonymous with a dark red link that’s as subtle as a brick. And yet J&E SmallGoods owners Jocelyn Guest and Erika Nakamura aim higher. The duo opened the now-shuttered White Gold Butchers in New York before moving into consumer-packaged goods. Their juicy links are made from sustainably raised beef and pork, without nitrates or nitrites, and are redolent in hickory smokiness.

The Competition

• For a decade, Olympia Provisions in Portland, Ore., has been a champion of nose-to-tail butchery. Its bratwurst is flavored with potent spices—ginger, nutmeg, and white pepper—and runs $15 for ¾ pound.

• The Spanish chorizo from Publican Quality Meats ($10 per pound) is worth a trip to Chicago in itself. The tangy, spicy, ready-to-eat cured sausage is a deep reddish hue, with rounds of melt-in-your-mouth fat and a big hit of pimentón for color and heat.

• The old-school New York butchers Schaller & Weber have morphed from a local German shop to a nationally beloved brand. Their meaty Polish kielbasa ring ($10 per pound) is coarsely ground and heady with garlic.

The Case

Key to J&E’s excellence is the smoky flavor. Their sausages are hung overnight to dry before smoking so the hickory can permeate the meat more deeply. Nakamura and Guest also burn the acrid flavor off wood chips before smoking the links, making their flavor sweeter and rounder. And then there’s the incredible texture, a mix of chopped and ground meat with lush little pockets of fat. All this care adds up: J&E sausages aren’t cheap. But highlight-reel-quality meat shouldn’t be. $13 for ½ pound;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gaddy at

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