I feel like my priorities have been all out of whack lately. The once fertile womb of my curing chamber lies fallow and has for months. My freezer is empty of the homemade bacon that makes summer tomatoes achieve their otherworldly state. My smoker has seen only one brisket this entire season, and even that was a bit of a stretch to accomplish. Nary of piece of meat has been ground, smoked or cajoled into emulsion. My one homebrew project has honestly been more like my good friend’s homebrew project with me pitching in on some ingredients. My pork intake has been mostly limited to the Whole Foods breakfast tacos I grab with my morning coffee. My recent culinary high point was grilling and eating a veal chop by myself at midnight after a late flight home. And writing has been strictly limited to the things I make a living at. In summation: Fuck.

Fortunately, pork fat came back to town a couple weekends ago when a rare afternoon yielded 15lbs of good fresh sausage. I made some hot Italians. I tried a new simple but strong red wine and garlic-heavy link. But the star of the batch was a take on my own version of the Texas hot gut.

For those unfamiliar, the hot gut is an indigenous beast made mostly of beef, fat, hot pepper and oak smoke. They stand next to brisket as a pillar of central Texas meat-market style barbecue. Bite into one fresh off the pit and you can expect a crackling thin casing, a gush of liquid bright orange fat and a good hit of black pepper and beef.

An appropriate amount of fat being wrung from a sausage at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas.

There’s plenty of stylistic variation from town to town, and even variation from joint to joint on the same street. But most importantly for me, the central Texas hot gut is a local classic that I had yet to undertake. In formulating the link, I intended it to be an assault. A full frontal sausage slap of fat, beef, smoke and heat. I used a 4:1 ratio of pretty well-marbled beef to pork fatback (I prefer the way pork fat behaves in a sausage to beef fat, but wanted a little cow in there too for good measure). I also upped the heat to levels I thought would push comfortable eating. It turns out I probably could have added more of both fat and pepper. But, after a few hours in the smoker, the links did not disappoint. Beefy, smokey, fatty, spicy and lots of good nuclear orange fat spilling out all over the place. Washed down with a few coldbeers and I felt pretty high on the hog. Or actually, like just a hog. Which wasn’t too bad either.

The sausages were great on their own, wrapped in a tortilla or on a bun with yellow mustard to soak up the extra spillage. But they also make a mean breakfast taco, maybe the meanest, what I like to call the five star lonestar breakfast.

The five Star Lonestar Breakfast

Say you’re cueing up a large piece of meat like a brisket or shoulder clod. Say you have to start your fire early (meaning late, like 1 or 2am). Say that knowing you’re going to be up, you invite some friends over. Perhaps some shenanigans take place. Perhaps then you find that you’re looking at a fire by yourself at 4 or 5 in the morning, feeling like crap already and wondering how your friends managed to drink all the beer you had purchased for your entire barbecue. This fixes that feeling. This also bridges the gap between barbecue and breakfast tacos, which is something that should be bridged as often as possible.

A smoker rolling along at about 200
A few links of Texas Hot Guts
Flour Tortillas
Several Eggs
Hot salsa/Hot sauce
Sliced Serrano peppers
A cast iron skillet

Around 4 or 5 in the morning, throw your sausages into the smoke box, tend the fire and go back to sleep. 1-2 hours later, wake up, put the pan on the hot flat top of the fire box, wrap your tortillas in foil and put them in the smoke box. Beat the eggs and scramble in the pan. Slice sausages, pile on tortilla (soaking up as much of the fat as possible) along with scrambled eggs, hot salsa, Serrano peppers and cheese. If there’s a beer left in the cooler enjoy it as a little breakfast desert. If that doesn’t work, hit yourself in the head with the pan and go back to bed.

Hot Guts

I used some top round in this, which I picked for lack of sinew and ease of grinding. In hindsight, short-ribs would have been better for the added fat. I also would use a coarser blade for the grind. But you get the idea.

4lbs well marbled beef, cut into 1 inch dice
1lb pork fatback, in 1 inch dice
7-8 Serrano peppers
45 grams black pepper
15 grams cayenne pepper
15 grams paprika
1.5 ounces salt
1 cup cider vinegar, chilled
50 grams chopped fresh garlic
Hog casings

Mix all ingrients except the vinegar and grind through a coarse die. Put into a bowl and add the vinegar, mixing for about a minute or two till the meat and fat bind. Stuff into hog casings. Smoke for about 2 hours till the sausages carry a very smoky flavor but are not dried out.


  1. PorknWhiskey says:

    I’m in the same rut, been meaning to make some sausage and I might just have to give this a whirl.

  2. rl reeves jr says:

    We’ve made 7 batches of hot guts in the past few months. the best batches were made from brisket with pork belly as the fat additive. When we’re milling the meat the first time we season it as it tumbles into the catch bowl. Copious kosher salt,coarse black pepper and cayenne. That’s it. We did make a nice batch of rogue sausage with pork shoulder,roasted hatch chiles,salt,b pepper and pork belly.
    Whatever the amount of fat and chile is that you think is appropriate-double it. Seriously. Our best batches are all HEAVY on the pork belly and cayenne.
    We’ll be tackling chorizo for our Tex Mex pop up restaurant. Hope y’all can make it.RL

  3. GBear says:

    Love finding this. My first go round with making sausage was less than spectacular. Have to try the pork fatback. I used all beef and pork rib meat. Big mistake, to much connective tissue, not enough fat.

    • Jake says:

      The fatback is great, belly also works really well. I’ve got quite a few sausage formulations on here that work with various cuts, but pork shoulder or leg and belly or fatback all work well. a 4/1 or 3/2 lean to fat ratio seems to be the sweet spot for me. Thanks for checking out the site.

      • GBear says:

        Thanks for the feedback Jake. I’m sticking with the better cuts of meat as I admit, I dont want to spend a day trimming connective tissue. Even semi frozen it’s a nuisance and I like to keep all my digits intact.

  4. griffinsgrub says:

    Been too long since I made sausage. Would love to try yours. So was it all top round?

    • Jake says:

      All the beef was yes, with the pork fat added, but in hindsight I’d use brisket or short rib meat instead. I was just being lazy about sinew and trimming.

  5. rl reeves jr says:

    We knocked out 15lbs of chorizo last night for http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/2012/9/13/Austin-Daily-Photo-Scrumptious-Chef-Diez-y-Seis-Tex-Mex-Pop-Up-At-Three-Little-Pigs-East-End-Wines Deboned a 10lb pork shoulder and used a 5lb pork belly for the fat content. Made a heavy season blend of cumin,coriander,kosher salt and cayenne. Extruded into hog gut casings. Will roast at 200 degrees for 90 minutes on Sunday morning. It’s a good batch. Number 8 in the series so far. Hope y’all can make it out to sample.RL

    • Jake says:

      Sounds outstanding. If you need a Sampler or any help consuming coldbeer and listening to Sir Douglas in the lead up lemme know.

  6. Bubba says:

    I tried your Hot Guts recipe about 6 months ago and they were pretty good. I’ve got a German butcher and a Aussie butcher that are going to try to make the Hot Guts for me. The Aussie might not grind enough fat in the mix as Aussies almost “anti-fat” but we’ll wait and see how both do and I’ll let you know.

    • Jake says:

      Glad to hear you liked them. Russell over at Scrumptious Chef is much more of a purist than I am and would direct you to a more cayenne/ black pepper only formumaltion. One things we definitely agree on is the need for an obscene amount of fat.

  7. Rob says:

    Thats sounds awesome, will be trying soon in my restaurant. Just starting to try new things in the kitchen. Are you an ACTS brother as well? (If thats you in the picture)

    • Jake says:

      Thanks Rob. Glad I could provide some inspiration. The photo of sausage wringing was one I took of a friend of mine, not sure what ACTS is.