Two Master Butchers Have Made the Smoked Kielbasa of Our Dreams

We tried all three sausages from J&E SmallGoods, the recently launched company from butchers Jocelyn Guest and Erika Nakamura.

Sausage Taste Test
Photo: Sarah Crowder

While we love grilled ribeye or butter-soft filet mignon, we can't deny it—sometimes, there's nothing that can fill the void in our hearts like a good hot dog. Over the years, we've tried countless brands, from ballpark classics like Nathan's to a wagyu hot dog that tastes like steak. (Yes, really.) So when we heard that Jocelyn Guest and Erika Nakamura, the powerhouse butchers from New York's now-shuttered White Gold, launched their own line of natural, uncured packaged sausages this summer, we knew we had to try them. Dubbed "J&E SmallGoods," the company offers kielbasa, bratwurst, and hot dogs made without preservatives, antibiotics, or hormones. The grass-fed beef and heritage pork they use are sourced from local family farms "that raise animals the right way," per their website; they also believe that good meat shouldn't be a privilege, but a right.

According to Eater, the couple hopes to add more products, including bacon, pastrami, and roast beef, to their roster as well. But in the meantime, J&E SmallGoods was kind enough to send over samples of the already-released products. So we gathered in our test kitchen and grilled them up until they all had nice char marks—then, we cut them into bite-sized pieces and compared them to each other, noting taste, texture, and overall experience. Read on for our findings.

Fully Cooked Uncured Bratwurst

Ingredients: pork, water, sea salt, spices, celery powder, dehydrated garlic, hog casing.

We found this bratwurst satisfyingly thick with a good texture, and strong notes of white pepper. It's more mild than the other two sausages, with light undertones of smoke.

"Chewy, mild brat flavor and nice texture," an editor noted.

Fully Cooked Uncured Hot Dogs

Ingredients:beef, water, pork, sea salt, spices, cane sugar, celery powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce powder, sheep casing

Editors loved the crisp texture of the casing on this hot dog, which gave way to a softer inside. The flavor was unique, and elicited a few different tasting notes—some found it to be smoky and spicy, while others noticed an almost briny undertone, reminiscent of seaweed or miso.

"The casing is great, good length and width," an editor said. "There are interesting undertones here that I can't place."

Fully Cooked Smoked Uncured Kielbasa

Ingredients:pork, beef, water, sea salt, spices, garlic powder, cane sugar, celery powder, hog casing

Out of the three sausages, this kielbasa was our favorite—the casing was snappy and the sausage had a salty, smoky flavor with a hint of spices coming through. The texture was praised for being smooth and juicy.

"Would definitely add to a grilling party spread with burgers and hot dogs," one editor wrote. "Snappy, good amount of salt and smoke."

Where to buy:

If you're interested in buying any of the sausages, they're available to order online. You can also find them at select vendors in New York, including Eataly Flatiron, Mekelburgs in Clinton Hill and Williamsburg, and DeCicco & Sons in Larchmont, Armonk, Millwood, and Somers.

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