Just Encase

Grill-friendly homemade and handcrafted sausages from local butchers:

Sicilian-Style Italian Sausage
Daily Grind, Lake Bluff
There’s nothing subtle here. This is Sicilian-Style Italian sausage after all. Cheese. Swine. And a lot of wine. Butcher Rick Harness learned the recipe as a little boy, watching as his grandfather mixed together mounds of Romano cheese, pork shoulder and white wine (never red) into sausage as bold as a firm glass of nero d’avola.

Gorgonzola-Bacon Brats
Reagan Meats, Glenview
One sleepless night last spring, Jack Barnhisel came across the tail end of a recipe on The Food Network that paired Gorgonzola and bacon to delicious effect. And that got him thinking, “If it works on salad and pairs well with pasta, what would it taste like in sausage form?” The resulting brat, made with pork and veal, is his elegant yet meaty answer to a Wisconsin cheddarwurst.

Lamb Sausage
Al’s Meat Market, Wilmette
When life gives you lamb shoulder, you make lamb sausage. That’s Joe Spera’s philosophy. He says his Greek-inspired lamb sausages are a work in progress but they’ve already developed a cult following. Availability varies so call ahead for pick-up.

Apple Bratwurst
Elegance in Meats, Northbrook
Perhaps the most versatile bratwurst on the list, Ed Manacek’s slightly sweet apple brats are equally compatible with scrambled eggs and coffee in the morning as they are with elegant chutney and frosted beer come the afternoon. But act now, as they’re a summer-only treat, offered from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Danish Brats
Schmeisser’s, Niles
Kurt Schmeisser makes more than 70 different sausages—from potato-based Swedish katuffelwurst to sweet cranberry brats—but doesn’t know of another butcher in the area that makes these beef-pork Danish varieties made with egg and onion. He learned the recipe from a chef at retirement home and now ships them across them to sausage enthusiasts across the nation.

Venison Brats
Zier’s Prime Meats and Poultry, Wilmette
Dave Zier’s venison brats used to be prepared by special request only. Local hunters would bring him fresh deer meat and request he “make something up” for them. Once he found a USDA inspected source of venison, he offered them to the rest of us. It’s delicious with notes of coriander, perfect for pairing with heavy mustards and Zier’s personal recommendation, a smear of Bronco Billy raspberry-chipotle sauce, which he sells at the store.