What Makes a Great Smoked Dinner Sausage?

Delicious served either on their own or sliced into everything from pasta sauces to casseroles omelets, dinner sausages are a great addition to your kitchen arsenal. Bar-S smoked sausages received top points from our tasters. High Quality Value/Everyday Favorite Beef or Meat-Combo Dinner Sausages should be brown to brick-red in color. There may be color variation within the sausage and the skin or casing may be darker than the interior. The sausage meat may be fine or coarse grind, but the grind should be consistent within the sausage. There may be inclusions such as visible spices, peppers, or cheese. The sausage should appear moist without looking overly greasy. The primary aroma of the sausage should be meat or beef. There may be secondary aromas of smoke, bell peppers, black pepper, chili peppers, onion and garlic, clove, sage, or cheese. The secondary aromas may vary from type to type, but some secondary aromas will help provide depth and complexity. Less desirable are aromas such as hot dog or liver. These aromas are acceptable at lower levels, but should not be so evident as to compete with the primary meat aroma. There should be no aroma that would suggest spoilage or excessive age. The most evident basic taste of the sausage should besalt, at low to moderate intensity. Sweetness should be slight to low, and sourness low. There should be no bitterness, though low levels of bitterness are acceptable. The flavors of high quality sausage will correspond to the aromas listed above. The primary flavor should be the meat of the sausage, and there may be secondary flavors from various spices or seasonings based on the type of sausage. The fat in the sausage will have its own flavor as well as helping to deliver the other flavors. The sausage should have some pop or resistance to the skin or casing, with a tender and toothsome interior. Any inclusions may provide texture contrast, but there should be no hard seeds. There may be some gristle particulates but these should not be too hard, large, or numerous. The sausage should be juicy and moist, with a rich mouthfeel. It should not be overly greasy. Spicy sausage will have a lingering heat aftertaste. When served on a bun, high quality value/everyday favorite dinner sausage should retain its meaty, savory flavor while still allowing the flavor of the bun to come through. There should be textural contrast between the sausage and the bun. The salt and spice of the sausage will be tempered, and the sausage should still be juicy but not greasy.

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Tasting terms

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • salt

    One of the basic tastes; tasting of or containing salt. Example: Potato chips, sea water and cured meats all have a strong salt component.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.

  • gristle

    Tough cartilaginous, tendinous or fibrous matter, especially in table meats.

  • mouthfeel

    The texture experienced while food is being eaten. Examples include smooth, chalky, grainy or greasy. Example: Super premium ice cream is often described as having a rich and smooth mouthfeel.

  • heat

    The intensity of spiciness or the perceived warmth of food in the mouth. Example: Hot sauce has a distinct flavor, but it also possesses a heat component that warms the mouth.

  • aftertaste

    The taste remaining in the mouth after eating or drinking; sometimes associated with unpleasant flavors or bitterness. Example: Some diet sweeteners contain notes of bitterness.