My Grandpa and dad used to eat these when I was a kid. When I was in college I remember buying a jar once in a blue moon. I only bought them rarely because I knew if I bought a jar, I’d eat them one after one until they were gone. Since they weren’t the healthiest food in the world, that was no bueno!
About 3 weeks ago, I had a sick craving (I mean like sitting on the couch, mouth suddenly watering kind of craving) for these. So I went on my trusty Amazon, and they didn’t have them. Since Amazon rarely doesn’t have what I’m looking for, it got my Spidey senses tingling and I did a Google search. And guess what? Penrose, which was later acquired by ConAgra foods, no longer makes them. The make the single-serve little sausages in a plastic package, but where would it be without the delicious brine?
So I went on a vision quest and found that there were many out there like me who had a mad sick addiction to these tiny, fatty, mouth-puckering delights.
I found this webpage and figured that homebrewers knew what they were talking about when it came to pickled sausages. The recipe version was 3.5 (about halfway down the page) and let me tell you, this gentleman NAILED IT!
Left to right (2 jars each) I used Usingers hot dogs, Johnsonville pre-cooked Brats (I wanted to find the spicy brats but I could not), Hebrew National full fat and because I still had brine, Hebrew National 97% fat free hot dogs (my normal “eating” hot dog of choice, because it’s all lips and no…well. You know).
I added some jalapenos to some of the jars but I have to be honest and say that I liked them better without. Although I love Jalapenos, it threw the flavor off of that authentic Penrose I was going for. For some of the jars I used fresh onion and some dried. I preferred the fresh. I *did* add red food coloring, because I was going for authentic.
YUM. So red!!
Because I’m impatient, I vacuum-sealed the jars. A gentleman on the forum suggested it would speed up the marinating process, and for the most part it definitely DID do that. Most jars were ready in 2 days!! I’m sure my husband was happy because he was sick of hearing about my sausage problem…
Using this funnel when you’re canning is super convenient, I use mine all the time!
So far the verdict is
Usingers: was NOT ready in 2 days and for some reason the hot dogs puffed up under vacuum (none of the rest of them did that). Those aren’t even ready now and it’s been 2 weeks. I think it is because of the natural casing on them. Although they make good eatin’ hot dogs, the case definitely has more of a “snap” than the Penrose used to.
Johnsonville: Definitely good. I think a bit more fatty than the Penrose were (or the fat is bigger chunks? They seem to be a bit less of a fine grind than the Penrose were)
Hebrew national full fat: The texture to my recollection is really quite close. They’re maybe a bit fattier than I remember the Penrose being?
Hebrew national 97% fat free: A surprise dark horse. Though almost certainly less fat than the original, the texture was good and I didn’t really miss the fat too much. And much less guilt about eating a whole jar on my own (though my 15 year old is now an addict as well).
I’ve purchased the Hebrew National lower fat (less fat than original but more than the 97% fat free). I’m guessing this will be the closest but I will update!
Anyway, thank you Ottis, wherever you are, for bringing back such a great memory! I’m sure I will not go without a jar of these in the fridge for a delicious spicy tangy treat!