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Old-time butchers go whole-hog, grinding sausage on-site and flavoring it by hand. Savor the Tar Heel State's most authentic sausage from these four suppliers.

DIY Sausage

  • Sausage is made from ground meat, which can be purchased from a butcher or, for the extra-ambitious, made at home with a meat grinder.
  • Once you have the ground pork, the next step is seasoning it. From the extravagant wine, beer, cheese, and oil to the simple salt, pepper, and sage, there are hundreds of recipes for how to season your sausage. Check www.charlottemagazine.com for several seasoning ideas.
  • This part might require a trip to the store — unless you happen to have a sausage stuffer crammed in your cabinet between the Cuisinart and Crock-Pot. In order to make sausage links, you must place your seasoned meat into the stuffer, cranking it through and into the casing attached to the other end.
  • The casing, which can be artificial or natural, is the material that holds the meat together. Once the meat is in the casing, gently pinch and twist it to create sausage links.
  • Now comes the fun part. Cook the links in a skillet and start eating!

McLaughlin's Sausage Company
The company's current owner, Bill McLaughlin III, is a fifth-generation meat man. With more than a century of practice, his family has sausage making down to an art. Hogs are butchered and deboned on-site, then seasoned with red pepper and sage. After the meat is ground and cased, it's sold in the McLaughlin's Farmhouse store. If you can't make it to the farm, sample McLaughlin's traditional sausage at restaurants like Bob's Lunch Counter in Mooresville or Butcher Boys in Lake Norman. 15725 Mooresville Hwy., Mooresville, 704-660-0971.

Ferrucci's Old Tyme Italian Market
Owner Tony Stafford learned to make sausage the old-fashioned way while working in a Brooklyn butcher shop. "It's so natural, the only ingredients are meat, spices, and love," he quips. Local USDA choice prime shoulder butts arrive at Ferrucci's fresh, never frozen. Stafford grinds the meat, casing it with real pork or lamb intestines. Salt, ground pepper, and fennel flavor the mild sausage, while paprika and crushed red pepper are added to spicy blends. Stafford also sells cervalat, a traditional Swiss sausage cased with lamb intestines, for $6.99 a pound. 20910 Torrence Chapel Rd., Cornelius, 704-896-3190

Neese's Sausage
Back in 1917, James Theodore Neese would travel across Guilford County, selling homemade sausage from a mule-driven cart. Almost a century later, Neese's famous pork products are available at every major grocery store in Charlotte. Slaughtered and manufactured in Greensboro, a shipment of Neese's sausage is delivered fresh to stores each day. Enjoy three varieties: regular, spicy, and extra sage. 800-632-1010, 704-334-4430.

Squires Meat & Livestock
Just off Monroe Road in Stallings sits an unassuming, tiny white trailer that's home to some of the best ground sausage in Charlotte. OK, maybe the Southeast. If selling out before 8 a.m. every Saturday morning is a testament to just how good Squires Meat & Livestock's fresh ground sausage really is, then try it in biscuits and gravy or, even better, on its own, and you'll know this isn't your ordinary Jimmie Dean. Squires is run by Andy — yep, just Andy — who says he slaughters about thirteen hogs a week. The result? Ground sausage mixed carefully with spicy red pepper flakes (and other secret ingredients) all for about $5 per pound. And while Squires's bacon and other pig parts are equally flavorful (you can find most items here between October and April, though the sausage is generally available year-round), it's the ground sausage that local residents keep coming back for every week. Stop by midweek — you may get lucky and snag a pound or two before the weekend rush. 2828 Old Monroe Rd., Stallings, 704-821-7321

Categories: Feature, Food + Drink, Restaurants & Food