There’s a new hot dog movement in town, focused on gourmet sausages and hot dogs, and Gilbert’s Sausages–based in Sheboygan, WI–are in on the game, offering four different kinds of sausages to consumers. Their Ouisconsin dog was made available to consumers in early May 2011 in Costco locations throughout Chicago and the rest of the Midwest.
Founders Eric Romberg and Chris Salm started homebrewing a few years ago, and that hobby quickly turned into a business idea when they realized that the principles behind the craft beer movement were similar to the gourmet hot dog craze. Both movements focus on better products using high-quality ingredients. With a family-background in encased meat treats, Salm thought he had something to offer, and he’s not afraid to share it.
And why would he be? Their sausages contain absolutely no filler, and the packaging lists every spice and flavor they use. Transparency like this isn’t often seen in the hot dog business, and it highlights that sausages can be healthy while also being tasty too.
Prior to launching Gilbert’s Sausages, Salm got to work in the test kitchen at his father’s co-packing facility Salm Partners. After working in five-pound test batches, he came up with four sausages, the flagship product of which was based on a recipe Salm’s father had been working on. That first dog was the Ouisconsin, a beef sausage with bits of bleu cheese. This dog, by far, is a favorite. Not only did it receive a huge level approval from Meatingplace Magazine, but Costcos throughout the Midwest began carrying the product in May 2011.
As for the other dogs, they’re no less delectable. The Catalana is the spicy sausage of the four, but it’s tempered with a bit of Sargento mozarella. The Froman came from Salm’s desire to include a classic uncured Chicago-style beef dog like the ones he grew up eating at Wiener Circle and Portillo’s. Last but not least is the Shebeergan, a beer brat that represents classic Wisconsin by using beer from Hinterland Brewery.
The dogs’ ingredients aren’t the only thing that makes them special either. Gilbert’s has a unique way of making their dogs, too. All four encased meats come in a casing that is made from beef protein spun around the sausage, meaning they can dial the thickness to however much they want. Salm says this provides a much better snap to the dog, resulting in fewer inconsistencies from one sausage to the next.
The dogs are then packaged in very particular way, too. After they are all individually wrapped and put into packs of four, they’re fully cooked in a hot water cook tank. In packaging and cooking in this way, Gilbert’s lessens the amount of time their sausages are exposed to oxygen, meaning there’s no chance of bacterial contamination. This way, the flavor isn’t affected, and they don’t need to use preservatives to keep their dogs fresh. This also means, that even while there’s no preservatives in their dogs, they can last six months after their ‘best if used by’ date in your fridge.
And if you just want to eat one dog out of the four? That’s not a problem with Gilbert’s Sausages. Since they’re individually wrapped, they’re like string cheese packages. Tear one dog off the set of four pack, and all the other dogs are still perfectly packaged.
In addition to Costco locations in Chicago, Gilbert’s will be selling their sausages at a variety of farmer’s markets throughout the summer. they’re also available in Sunset Foods and Joe Caputo & Sons.They are also currently working on getting their products into other retail stores, like Treasure Island, throughout Chicagoland. For more information about Gilbert’s Sausages, click here.
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