If you’ve never lived in Alaska pretty much all of your life and then relocated to a Midwestern state you may not be able to relate to this. Being a near-native Alaskan one of my standard breakfast selections for years has been hot links with eggs, or maybe a hot link and cheddar omelette, or a meat-lovers scramble which of course has hot links in it. In Alaska hot links are nearly as ubiquitous as sausage or bacon when it comes to breakfast meat.
I was eager to try hot links here in Minnesota. In Alaska you’ll find that no 2 eateries have the same hot links. My personal favorite (in this world) came from Sourdough Sam’s Cafe in Fairbanks. Nobody had bad ones, theirs were the best though. Now that I’d relocated to MN I was eager to try to find the breakfast joint that could top them, I now live in “the real world” afterall.
Honestly, at this point I don’t even remember where my first shot was. I believe it was a popular place in Blaine called Ole Piper Inn in Blaine. Guess what I didn’t find on the menu. I tried a number of different places in the upcoming months, never did I find them. At some point after I’d been to a place a few times and even generated rapport with the wait staff I went out on a limb and asked for them. I may as well have been speaking in a foreign language. The common answer when you ask someone around here about hot links is “do you mean Italian Sausage?” Italian Sausage is good but far from the same thing.
On Wednesday I talked with my culinary genius of a boss about it, and while he didn’t know what a hot link was he did have a few suggestions about where I could go that might be able to help. One of the places I’d even heard of, so yesterday I went.
The folks at Von Hanson’s Meat were just as clueless about hot links as everyone else around here, but they did know their meat. I described what I had in mind to them and the gentlemen behind the counter had 2 suggestions. One they described as a bit of a Cajun sausage which I knew wasn’t the answer. While I’m a huge Cajun food fan, hot links aren’t Cajun. So I just default-tried the other alternative, Andouille smoked sausage.
Andouille sausages are sometimes referred to in the US as “hot link” sausages. –Wikipedia
SCORE! I cooked some up and had them this morning. Not only were these definitely something I’d happily refer to as a hot link, these are easily some of the best I’ve had in my life. I’d put them right up there with Sourdough Sam’s.
I still have the problem of not being able to get them at a restaurant for Sunday breakfast, but the truth is in my new life I should be eating out less anyway; It works out. If you’re a Midwesterner though that has yet to try Andouille sausages, I encourage you to frequent your local butcher and change that as soon as you can.