Call it chorizo, chevaps or wurst, almost every country has its sausage. It's the ultimate easy meal, and butchers have risen to the challenge with dozens of varieties to suit all tastes.
We asked WA's reigning sausage kings to reveal their most popular snags as they prepare for the national titles starting tomorrow at Fraser's Restaurant in Kings Park.
"Last count, we had 22 different types in the cabinet," says Raff Barbaro, who took out a double win in the poultry and lamb categories last year. "Sausages are big, especially in summer, and flavoured varieties are especially popular. Chicken sausages, in particular, have been a huge growth category for us."
The Corner Butcher's Milan Matutinovich, who won the traditional Australian category, says it's a tie between his beef barbecue and Italian sausages when it comes to the popularity stakes.
"The secret to a good Italian sausage is to make it on the day," says Mr Matutinovich. "The flavour and texture are not the same on, say, the third day, so we pretty much do them daily and grind all the meat and spices - even whole nutmeg - as we go along. It's amazing what difference it makes. Our wine comes from a neighbour of mine in the Swan Valley, so I guess there's been a lot of little tweaks to get them just right. I reckon 65 per cent of our customers are Australian - and they love them."
Princi Butchers' Joe Princi (continental winner) says kids love the barbecue and mild Italian sausages, with the thin ones top sellers this time of year because they're easier to cook on the barbecue plate. "Our pork sausages are always popular because we have a big Italian clientele but Australians love the Sicilian (pork, tomato and cheese)," he says. "I always try to do different things - we've had a lot of inquiries for kangaroo, so I'm thinking a game sausage might go down well."
Dubrovnik Butchers' Oliver Marinovich (Australian pork winner) says you can't go past English or Irish Cumberland sausages for traditional bangers and mash because it takes a mild sausage to make the most of this quintessential British dish.
His bratwurst is a German version of an Australian barbecue snag and for body builders he does a "power snag" by special order with chicken breast, sweet potato, broccoli and chia seeds that took three years to develop.
"It took a while to balance the carbohydrate and protein in a sausage for guys in competition mode," he says. "There are about 50 on the circuit and some of them will consume up to a kilo of these a day. A lot of fireys buy them as well because they like to maintain fitness and eat clean."
Brother Paul runs Adrian's Continental Smallgoods (gourmet/open category winner), which has 150-170 sausages in its range, including traditional European salami, liverwurst, "kashanka" (blood sausage with buckwheat), krakowurst and wieners, which are smoked. His winter specialty is a black truffle bratwurst using shavings of Al Blakers' Manjimup fungi and his signature snag is the chorizo "Paolo" made with Spanish paprika, garlic and white wine.
"The secret is in the blend of paprika," Mr Marinovich says. "There is so much difference between Hungarian and Spanish paprika that you can't substitute one for the other because the flavour profile and consistency of the chorizo won't be the same."
Turn to page 4 for top- selling snags and recipes from winning butchers