Canadian restaurant operators are stuffing their menus with a wide variety of spicy, savoury sausages. From sliced Italian sausage atop classic red-sauced pastas to chorizo-stuffed fritters and links made of rabbit or duck, sausage is lending its hearty, home-style appeal to both upscale and old-school fare.
Canadian consumers have a strong affinity for sausage: At breakfast, traditional pork sausage is consumers’ second-favorite meat (behind pork bacon), appealing to 60% of those who eat meat at that daypart, according to Technomic’s recently published Canadian Breakfast Consumer Trend Report.
In addition, more than three in 10 consumers ages 18 to 34 say that turkey sausage and chicken sausage are in their consideration set at breakfast—pointing to valuable opportunities for operators to create more-healthful breakfast options to appeal to younger diners. (Tim Hortons did just this in January, rolling out a Turkey Sausage Breakfast Sandwich that can be made with an egg-white omelette.)
During lunch and dinner, sausage can hold appeal both to “foodies” in search of artisan or house-made standout ingredients and to traditionalists who appreciate the heft and full-flavoured richness that sausage can lend to a more delicately flavoured pasta, chicken or seafood offering. At Il Fornello in Toronto, house-made ground sausage highlights the pappardelle salsiccia, featuring cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, olive oil and garlic sauce; at Milestones Grill + Bar, the Chorizo Mozzarella Fritters introduced last fall consist of panko-breaded balls of mozzarella, chorizo sausage, garlic and parsley, served with a smoky paprika aioli for dipping.
For a more detailed look at how sausage is flavouring menus across dayparts and restaurant segments, here’s a roundup of sausage selections that Canadian chain and independent restaurants added to their menus in Q4 2013.
- Chorizo Tortilla Omelette, Denny’s: A three-egg omelette with Canadian cheese, chorizo sausage, fire-roasted peppers and onions, tortilla chips, pepper Jack queso and pico de gallo ($10.69)
- Chicken Sausage N’Eggs, Albert’s Family Restaurants: Alberta-made lean chicken sausage with a hint of apple, served with two fresh eggs ($8.99)
- Breakfast Bowl, Fatburger: Two scrambled eggs, diced tomato, onion and shredded cheddar cheese on chunky home-style hash browns topped with ranchero-hollandaise sauce and sliced breakfast sausage ($8.99)
- Lamb Merguez Sausage Satay, Glowbal Grill & Satay Bar (Vancouver): Served with hot mustard, papaya slaw, ginger white sauce sauce and spicy peanut sauce ($2.50)
- Hot Dog Poutine, La Cage Aux Sports: Served with mustard, relish and coleslaw ($7.39)
- Nomad Stanstead Rabbit, Accords (Montreal): Stanstead rabbit sausages with red peppers, pine nuts and tomato confit ($17)
- Sausage and Pepper Sandwich, Olive Garden: Italian sausage and bell peppers topped with melted Italian cheeses and a zesty marinara sauce ($9.49 half/$13.49 whole)
- Boston’s Broken Lasagna, Boston Pizza: Bolognese meat sauce layered over tender noodles, topped with bacon, spicy Italian sausage and red onions and then baked with pizza mozzarella and finished with Parmesan cheese ($14.96)
- Rigatoni, Oro Restaurant (Toronto): With Ontario spiced sausage, stewed tomatoes, goat cheese, green onions and roasted peppers ($18)
- Atlantic Halibut Cheeks, Canoe (Toronto): With duck sausage, Brussels sprouts and parsnip purée ($23)
- Italian-Sausage-Stuffed Free-Range Chicken, Chives (Halifax): With roasted garlic and mozzarella risotto croquette; ragoût of peppers, olive, fennel, eggplant and basil; and smoked tomato sauce (part of special prix-fixe menu)
On current menus, sausage is showing strength especially in pasta dishes, Technomic’s MenuMonitor database indicates. Sausage’s appearance in pasta dishes climbed 21% from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013, MenuMonitor finds. (That’s no wonder, given that spicy flavours are identified as “opportunity flavours” for pasta and other Italian dishes in Technomic’s 2013 Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report.) And as we move into spring—with the lighter fare that that season typically brings—sausage can easily retain a place on menus as a flavour-packed accent.