Talking to Drews Driessen, owner of D-Original Sausage Co., about sausages for barbecue season is like going back in time. The fifth-generation sausage maker originally from Bremen, Germany, worked for Grimm’s Fine Foods and Fletcher’s before deciding he’d had enough of modern mass production. Six years ago, he opened D-Original, which uses techniques that are over 150 years old and focuses on high-quality local pork and seasonings.
Driessen operates a small production space on Main Street and produces charcuterie and more than 20 kinds of fresh sausage for D Original Sausage Haus (130–12000 First Avenue, Richmond), a retail location partly owned by one of Driessen’s sons, and other establishments around town, including Market Meats (2326 West 4th Avenue). “We can’t and don’t want to hide anything,” Driessen says proudly. He gives the Straight a tour of the spotless production facility, where his son and apprentice, Drews, is busily cleaning the equipment.
Driessen’s passion and respect for his craft are inspiring. He offers a taste of some of his favourite sausages, such as a currywurst he recommends topping with ketchup and curry powder. The currywurst is juicy, with a fine texture and hints of nutmeg, marjoram, caraway, and onion.
A slightly coarser-textured Greek loukaniko has flavours of orange zest, Macedonian feta, and oregano and is served with tzatziki. A black-hued nero di seppia sausage—with squid ink, fermented chili peppers, brined green peppercorns, and sweet chili jelly—pairs beautifully with Macedonian feta and blue Stilton. Other options include bratwurst, hot Italian sausage, and British bangers.
During the Straight’s visit to Oyama Sausage Co. (1689 Johnston Street, Granville Island), co-owner Christine van der Lieck says the large number of sausage varieties on offer locally is due to the city’s multicultural nature. “People’s tastes keep expanding in Vancouver. There are so many different cultural food influences.”
Oyama produces 200 different fresh sausages, with up to 40 types available at any given time. New creations include sea salt seaweed vodka pork, huli-huli chicken with pineapple, tahini lamb, and teriyaki duck. Older favourites range from bison with arugula and garlic, to southern barbecued turkey, to Cuban chorizo.
John van der Lieck, Christine’s husband and co-owner of Oyama, is also a fifth-generation charcuterie and sausage maker with the same commitment to quality as Driessen. The couple are proud of their partnerships with farms such as First Nature Farms in Alberta, which supplies them with SPCA–certified organic Berkshire pork.
Christine explains that commercially made sausage tends to have a higher fat content than artisanal sausage and often includes bread-crumb filler to soak up the extra fat. With leaner artisanal sausages, she says, it’s important not to overcook them; pricking them is a definite no-no, since it drains the moisture away. She suggests about 10 minutes each side on medium heat as a general guideline for most sausages. Driessen likes first searing his on a high-heat portion of a preferably coal barbecue in order to lock in the juices and says the sausage casing should be crisp after it’s cooked.
Daniel Lalonde, assistant manager in the meat department of Cioffi’s Meat Market (4142 East Hastings Street), says you could also parboil your sausages—this reduces grilling time and seals in juices before your sausages hit the barbecue.
Cioffi’s makes around 30 sausages in-house, with local, high-quality meat such as chicken from Farmcrest Foods in Salmon Arm. By phone, Lalonde explains that their most popular sausages include Tuscan free-range chicken with Parmesan cheese, carrots, celery, and onion; free-range bison with roasted white mushrooms; turkey with rapini, Taleggio cheese, and chilies; and rabbit and pear. He has a weakness for their inventive poutine pork sausage, stuffed with cheese curds and gravy.
You can’t get more local than the sausages produced by Hopcott Meats (18385 Old Dewdney Trunk Road, Pitt Meadows), which raises its own grass- and grain-fed cattle right on a farm that’s been in the family for three generations. For added flavour, the AAA–grade beef is dry-aged for 28 days. “If you want to get a true beef taste, you need to dry-age,” Mike Lindsay, general manager and head butcher, says by phone.
Hopcott offers beef and beef-and-onion sausages, in addition to a range of nonbeef options including turkey cranberry, lamb, and maple pork. All-beef hot dogs and various smokies are also available. While a visit to the farm is a great outing, you can buy the sausages on select dates at the Yaletown farmers market and the Poirier Street farmers market in Coquitlam.
Driessen says some people mistakenly see sausages as secondary to steak on the grill. But with such carefully crafted local products, you’ll have guests opting for barbecued sausages this summer.