My grandfather raised Duroc hogs on a farm straddling the Knox and Laurel County lines in southeastern Kentucky, starting in the roaring twenties and not ending til he died of dementia in a nursing home in Corbin in the 80s.
Big Jim had an old-timey, hand-cranked sausage grinder and an endless supply of fresh hog meat he harvested from a drift of big red pigs he kept across the road from the clapboard farmhouse he shared with his wife and five kids.We always had a frigerator filled with sausage and an old granny woman or two who could knock out a pan of biscuits like it was nothing.
I inherited his love of sausage.
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an article in Food and Wine magazine about a country quick mart in Bardstown, Kentucky that was adjudged to be making some of the finest sausage in USA.
Time for a roadtrip.
It’s a 10 hour drive from New Orleans to Jake’s Fresh Country Sausage (ensconced inside 150 Quick Stop) but I had a few days off work and no particular place to ramble off to so I gassed up the old Econoline and pointed north.
Sold out.I made it to Jake’s around 1 in the afternoon, and they were smooth sold out of sausage biscuits (the workhorse breakfast item that does the heavy lifting for the cafe).
No matter, the counterman was more than happy to sell me a package of original and hot sausage out of a refrigerator case and soon enough I was back on my way.
Back at the house in New Orleans’ 9th Ward I broke the original variety out of its packaging, fired up the cast iron and set a tray of eggs out of the icebox.
The first thing I notice as the patties sizzle is that this is an incredibly fatty sausage. If you’re looking to make an old-fashioned gravy to ladle over biscuits Jake’s is an excellent candidate.
Two fat patties of Jake’s sausage put off nearly a quarter cup of rendered hog fat. I did my country man duty and slowly whisked in a bowl of flour, lightly browned it then began stirring in whole cow’s milk.
Jake’s sausage is seasoned with red pepper, salt and sage. It tastes startlingly similar to the sausage that my grandmother fried up when I was a little kid. It is some of the finest processed meat I’ve come across in a long time.
A sign outside 150 Quick Stop announces “We Miss You Dink.”A loafer outside the concern tells me that Dink was Francis Thompson, the man who pulled the old gas station into the modern age and grew the sausage part of the business considerably via gaining approval from the USDA.
Dink passed away back in 2013. His son-in-law continues to man the business.
I ask after Jake and the layabout informs me that the business used to be owned by Jake and Rose Ann Jones both of whom are deceased.
I would’ve loved to have sat down with Mr Jake and learned the origin of his sausage recipe.The Kentucky Sausage Trail is fabled and broken into dozens of sections traversing the entire state. A journalist could spend a full year driving down the bi-ways of Kentucky exploring the old slaughterhouses and quick marts where rural charcutieres are still plying their craft.
150 Quick Stop
4598 Springfield Rd
Hours of operation
always call ahead
Other regional sausage parlors we’ll be visiting in the future:
High Grove Grocery. Cox’s Creek
Olde Delaney’s Country Ham Store. Bardstown
Boone’s Butcher Shop. Bardstown