This week I am reviewing a sausage factory, and that is not a metaphor. Never thought I’d be visiting a sausage factory, let alone reviewing one, but I must tell you this one has a lot of charm. Of course I am speaking of Mobile County’s own Hall’s Sausage.
Most Lagniappe readers are into the “buy local” way of life, and it should be no different when considering your choice of sausage. Conecuh is certainly the most popular brand in these parts, and Hall’s is also a wholesaler of Conecuh products, but as good as Conecuh is the Hall’s brand is often the better choice for the recipe. It’s different, but to me it’s just as good.
It was a fall break day for my boy, and I had a thirst for knowledge on all things meat. To get to the heart of the matter Lucas and I paid a visit to the Hall facility. Maybe a 10-minute drive from my midtown home, they’ve been in the same spot since 1949, two turns and you are there.
We were met by a friendly gentleman named Jim Hodges and in no time were suited up in hair nets and heavy white coats. Lucas looked like a Q-tip that got swallowed by a marshmallow. I’m sure I was no better. So Mr. Hodges treated us to the grand tour of the immaculately clean environs that produce some fine meats.
We suffered through refrigeration, walk-ins, the shivers, and made it to the smoker room. Upright cold smokers were doing their thing, cranking out pound after pound of what would become red hots. It was an impressive amount for what Jim would call a slow Monday. The smell was fantastic, but not as great as the next room. We entered what would amount to an oversized closet of seasonings, wall-to-wall. I was immediately reminded of how the French Market used to smell. Oh, those spices, each unique yet useless without a bit of salt.
From there we finally got to witness firsthand a couple of guys making sausage the old fashioned way. It is a hands-on operation. All-natural casings are fitted onto a nozzle of sorts. When the sausage comes out it is like watching water leave a fire hose. It’s incredibly fast. My eyes couldn’t keep up with it.
Sausage making is Hall’s bread and butter, but they have many other products, as well as a wholesale business for Conecuh and Zeigler meats. It’s that wholesale business that kept Hall’s afloat while remodeling after a fire began in the smoker room a couple of years ago. Though much had to be replaced, the 1935 model bologna machine luckily made it through. It’s a machine of iron and stainless steel that is part beautiful and part horror show. The musician in me said, “Stay away.”
Back at the loading dock we placed an order for almost everything they make. Andouille, red hots, garlic red hots, garlic bologna, and Cajun sausage. I’d just tried the beef sausage the week before and deemed it unnecessary to buy more. We did purchase some hoop cheese, not made on premises, but we couldn’t have all this meat without cheese, right?
The red hots were fantastic, garlic and regular. It isn’t a lot of heat. It’s more of a hot aftertaste. Enjoy these boiled or grilled. The juiciness is like having a circus going on inside your mouth.
The Andouille was definitely a force not to be ignored. I like the grind of this sausage. I’d love to have it in a corn boil with some shrimp, but tonight was a navy bean kind of night. A pot of beans with onions and a sausage that has the perfect fat content was a great substitution for the normal Monday’s red beans and rice.
The Cajun style sausage was great even on the griddle, straight up, split lengthwise with grilled onions.
Garlic bologna may have been my favorite product. Fried bologna sandwiches were good, but two slices of fried bologna acting as the bread and a slice of the yellow hoop cheese was even better! It’s not an overwhelming garlic taste, just a hint.
I nearly made myself sick on bologna canapés. By canapé I mean a Wheat Thin, a piece of fried bologna and a dab of hoop cheese, stuffed Manzanilla olives on the side.
I think I might spend the next few days vegan to recuperate from the meat overdose, but boy, was it worth it.
The folks at Hall’s were super nice, and I would like to thank them for the tour. Recipes are plentiful on their Facebook page, which is worth the look. You will find them in various markets and grocery stores throughout this area, but to get the complete line of products I’d visit them directly. It’s exactly what you want it to be. Old school guys making old school sausage in an old school way, all local, all hands-on. It’s something our area should be proud to call its own.