The weather’s cooling down and time for comfort food is near. To accompany this change in seasonal appetite, we’re thinking sausage. Sure, links are good any time of year, but, since they’re great grilled, roasted, and even in stews, they make for a perfect transition from summer to fall. Not to mention, Oktoberfest has us in the mood for all things German, franks included.
While Mill House Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie may be most recognized for their beer, Executive Chef Dan Crocco says the best part of what they do is actually the wurst—the sausage, that is. Because, frankly, admits Crocco, “there’s no better match to a good beer.”
Crocco started slow, serving just two or three sausages in the restaurant. Now, the menu lists six or seven at a time, and there are about 180 in a to-go case set up at the restaurant’s entryway. This has held an array of sausages, including fresh (raw) sausage (like hot Italian), smoked sausage (like kielbasa), and cooked varieties (like cotto).
The components of sausage-making are essentially all the same: Meat, fat, and spice are ground together and worked into a casing. Most are made using pork, though any meat can work, all with varying amounts of fat. Sausages differ based on this main ingredient, shape, additives, and seasonings, as well as whether they are fresh, or cooked or preserved.
According to Crocco, there are some places in the area, like East Fishkill Provisions, cranking out classic sausages from recipes passed through generations. “They have really good, traditional stuff going on over there, but I didn’t grow up in that sort of family,” says Crocco, “so I have to make my own.”
Crocco and crew make all sausages in-house, straying from tradition by using inventive spices, running the gamut from garlic and lemongrass to hot sauce and red onion. They’ve even made one inspired by the Cuban sandwich, grinding together pork, ham, pickles, and mustard, casing it, and serving it on pressed Cuban bread with the classic sandwich’s accouterments.
Mill House goes beyond the standard production steps, including using methods such as drying the meat a bit before its ground and letting it sit for a day after its seasoned. “Most places grind, season, and case,” Crocco tells. “That’s not what we do here; it’s definitely an art.”
Serving between 200 and 300 pounds of sausage a week, the wurst offerings are some of their most popular. Dishes include beer and cheddar bratwurst and a merguez sausage made with pork and lamb.“In the know” guests can order an off-the-menu item called the “Sausage Fest” for a sampling of all their links without any extras. “If you’ve never tried a real sausage,” says Crocco, “the place to do it is from us.”
Mill House Brewing Company
open for lunch and dinner Wed.-Mon.