A little while ago, a representative for Kayem contacted me and asked if I would like to sample some of their new line of Artisan Sausages that I could review. I’m not one to pass up free things, so of course I agreed and shortly after I received an incredibly generous package from Kayem. I thought I would get little sampler packages or something, but instead I got 5 full packages of each of their new line of sausages plus a couple of extra swag items!
I guess my disclaimer for the transparency of this post is that I did receive this package for free and I agreed to do a write up once I tried the sausages. Nonetheless, I’m going to try my best to review the sausages honestly.
A little background on Kayem: They are a local Massachusetts company known for their hot dogs, sausage, and deli meats. In fact, they provide the famous frankfurters that people swarm to buy at Fenway Park (i.e. the Fenway Frank)! They sell raw/fresh sausages, but very recently they have released a line of pre-cooked artisan sausages with unique flavor combinations that I’m reviewing in this post.
Kayem describes the Artisan Sausages as made with natural ingredients, having no artificial flavors, and with 35% less fat than typical pork sausages. I’ll describe each of their five artisan sausage flavors briefly and then show you some of the different ways I used the sausages. As a base line test, I simply took the sausages and tossed them on the grill for a bit. I wanted to try them warm and with some snap in the casing. They all grilled up really well and quickly because they were pre-cooked (one of the sausages isn’t pictured because I grilled it up previously).
Sweet Sausage – This sausage is what I would consider the base model. It’s basically a pre-cooked Italian sausage. I’ll admit that I was skeptical that a pre-cooked Italian sausage would be any good (especially considering that I find many pre-cooked chicken sausages a little lacking in the flavor department). I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I tried the Sweet Sausage and noticed that the typical spices and flavors still shined. I even tried a little spicy deli mustard with the sweet sausage and thought they paired wonderfully. Check out later on in the post, how I used the sausages in a sauce for pasta!
Uncured Bacon and Pineapple – I was the most excited to try this particular sausage out because it just sounded like it would be different. I wasn’t disappointed by this sausage either. The uncured bacon added some smokiness, while the pineapple really showed through with sweetness. I can’t say that I could differentiate the pineapple as pineapple, but the sweetness was very prevalent in a good balanced way. The smoky bacon with the sweetness made this sausage feel like a breakfast where your sausages might get a little syrup on them. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors and consider this sausage a win.
Andouille Sausage – Even smokier than the uncured bacon and pineapple sausage, the andouille sausage was also full of Cajun flavor. I enjoyed the andouille sausage on a pure flavor level. I’m not sure whether or not this sausage would stack up against more famous or traditional andouille sausages, but I thought it held its own pretty well by providing smoke and spice to any recipe. Considering that andouille sausage can be hard to find sometimes, I would easily consider using Kayem’s version in a pinch. Check out how my wife prepared these sausages in a corn chowder later on in the post!
Fire Roasted Pepper Jack – If I had a least favorite from this bunch it would be the fire roasted pepper jack. This wasn’t a bad sausage, but it wasn’t as good as the others. I just didn’t feel like the roasted jalapeno shined through and with all of the other strong spices, I didn’t really notice the taste of a subtle cheese like monterey jack. The spices were a little much for me in that they all sort of blended into one spicy taste without any real distinction. From what I could tell, this sausage is meant to have Mexican flavors as its base, but I didn’t really feel like it hit the mark. Again, this wasn’t a bad sausage. In fact, my wife said that she thought it was pretty good, but I didn’t really care as much for it compared to the other flavors.
Sweet Pepper Provolone – This was easily one of my favorite sausages in this bunch. The sweet pepper, provolone, onion, and balsamic ingredients all really showed through. This sausage tasted a bit like Kayem’s Sweet Sausage, but the extra ingredients gave me the impression of eating a sausage sandwich with all the trimmings (i.e. balsamic caramelized onions and sweet peppers). I probably couldn’t tell you that I tasted the provolone as a distinct flavor, but it did add a really nice texture to the combination of spices.
I tried using the sausages a few different ways just to see how well they worked in every day cooking. The results were promising, especially because as pre-cooked sausages, the preparation time was very fast.
Basic Hot Dog Bun and Grilled Uncured Bacon with Pineapple Sausage – Out of all of these sausages, the ones that would go best grilled in a bun would probably be the sweet sausage, the sweet pepper provolone, and the uncured bacon with pineapple. I wouldn’t necessarily try the other two as a sandwich, but they could work if you wanted. I tried the uncured pineapple in a toasted hot dog roll and I thought it worked really well. The sweet and smoky flavors of the sausage still shined through, which changed up the usual Italian sausage sub. Throw some raw or sauteed/grilled onions on top and it’s complete.
Sweet Sausage with Pasta and Red Sauce – I couldn’t resist trying the sweet sausage with pasta and sauce. I sautéed the sliced sausage with onions to get a little caramelization before adding a jarred Fra Diavolo (spicy) tomato sauce to let the whole thing simmer for 15 minutes or so. After that, I added penne pasta, a dash of heavy cream, and fresh basil to finish off the dish.
I thought that there was no way a pre-cooked sausage would hold its own with a strong spicy sauce, but I was wrong. The Sweet Sausage shone through and added good texture and Italian flavors to the whole pasta dish. If you like cooking fresh/raw sausage to exact specifications, then this might not be the way to go, however, the flavors held their own in my opinion. I would use these sausages again if I’m looking to save time, but still get that classic Italian sausage flavor infused into a dish.
Corn Chowder with Andouille Sausage – My wife often says, “We’ll never starve,” because she or I can pretty much whip up something to eat with even the most random leftover ingredients lying around the house. As an exercise in this principle, my wife used some leftover boiled corn on the cob, potatoes, a red pepper, broth, bacon, and some of the andouille sausage to create a light yet filling corn chowder. I was super impressed with not only how creative my wife was in combining these ingredients, but with how well the andouille sausage worked with the chowder. The smokiness of the sausage added another level of flavor to the chowder and I think it even worked better than the bacon. While I probably wouldn’t use the andouille sausage on its own (it is good though), I would easily consider tossing it into a pot of red beans or into a chowder for some immediate smoky spice.
Sweet Pepper Provolone Sausage, Pepperoni, and Onion Grilled Pizza – The last preparation I’ll share with you (although not the last that I’ll make) is a grilled pizza topped with pepperoni, sweet pepper provolone sausage, and onions. As soon as I tasted the sweet pepper provolone sausage, I knew that it would work on pizza. I wasn’t wrong. The result was possibly one of the best sausage toppings on a pizza that I’ve ever had. I know that sounds like a big claim, but I just thought the flavors of the sausage worked incredibly well for a grilled pizza (or any pizza really). The best part was that I didn’t have to cook the sausage ahead of time. I just sliced one up and threw it on top of the pizza before cooking it. It crisped up nicely without drying out.
Kayem’s new line of Artisan Sausages give any pre-cooked sausages out there a run for their money. They are better than any chicken sausage I’ve had and the calorie content for many of them is in the same ballpark as a chicken sausage. Admittedly, you do lose some of the freedom of cooking a sausage exactly how you like it when using a pre-cooked sausage, but there are many time-saving reasons to go for a pre-cooked sausage. If you’re looking to quickly spice up a dish or top a pizza, then I would easily recommend trying out some of these flavors for your next attempt.