Hamburger patties get most of the attention when it comes to plant based faux meat. Why? America is a land of hamburgers. It is one of our core national foods. Fast food restaurants on just about every major intersection sell hamburgers by the bag full. If one is making a bet on a startup you go where there is a lot of market share to grab.
However, there is a world of delivery vehicles for meat that are not hamburgers or beef analogues. The next frontier will probably be sausage. Whether in link form or bulk we also eat a lot of sausage. It’s on pizzas. It’s in breakfast burritos. It’s not the grill right next to the hamburgers.
It looks like the second wave of faux meat from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat is going to focus on sausage. In this post I am going to take a look at Beyond Meat’s Beyond Sausage:
This package is the “hot Italian” variety. At the grocery store there was also a traditional bratwurst variety, but for smoking I thought the spicier variety might work better.
I put the four faux meat links in with two varieties of traditional pork sausage—fresh garlic and Toulouse—from the good people at the Sausage Foundry in Cedar Rapids in the smoker. At ~225 degrees Fahrenheit the sausages came to temperature fairly quickly and evenly. All three varieties came to temperature within a few minutes of each other which was nice.
Out of the smoker the Beyond Sausages had turned from a smoky red to a dusty mustard:
Compared to the traditional pork sausages the grind of the Beyond Sausages was really fine. It bordered on hot dog consistency in many ways. The traditional pork sausages had more of the tooth and bite you want out of a link.
In terms of smoke flavor the Beyond Sausage absorbed some, but there was definitely less of an impact compared with the traditional smoked sausages. This has to be attributed in part of the density of the interior, which is also tied back to the grind. I wish I had snapped a photo, but you could see a nice quarter inch ring of pink around the circumference of the fresh garlic and Toulouse links. Those links definitely absorbed more smoke flavor.
Of note was that the spice level was highly variable from one sausage to the next. The first link that I ate had very little heat, but the second came on with that kick of heat you expect from hot Italian sausage.
It is quickly approaching the point where we are debating whether faux meat alternatives are as good as the meat products that they are intended to replace rather than asking if they are good enough for meat substitutes. This is where the tipping point for mass adoption occurs because the benefits are so great that “good enough” performance causes people to switch without regret.