Cincinnati certainly has some ‘street cred’ with our local sausages. But we’re not the only ones who make great wursts. And I’m always one to give props to a producer that makes great encased meats! I met my new favorite spicy sausage in the land of gulf shrimp and moon pies – Mobile, Alabama, recently on my yearly trip to Gulf Shores. It’s called Conecuh Sausage, made in the county by the same name in Alabama, a Creek Indian word for “Land of Sugar Cane”. I tasted it at my favorite restaurant in Mobile, Alabama : Kitchen on George.
This product of porcine valhalla was not so discreetly embedded in a side dish of smokey jamabalya. It’s spicy, smokiness permeated, making it the star of the plate, even though the fish was pretty darn good too. I’ve never had jambalaya so smokey and tomatoey. I asked my waiter about the sausage and got a lesson on its origin and maker. He said it’s made in Conecuh, Alabama, where all they do is make sausage and bacon.
The Pontchartrain Catch of the Day at Kitchen on George in Mobile, Alabama, with Conecuh sausage jambalaya.
Conecuh is a county in southern Alabama. In the days before most had their own freezers, a man named Henry Sessions formulated his recipe for hickory smoked pork sausage. After returning from World War II, Sessions worked as a salesman for a meatpacking plant in Montgomery Alabama. He started Sessions Quick Freeze in Evergreen in 1947 so that people could bring their pigs and cattle, have them slaughtered, and store them and their vegetables in his rentable meat locker.
But it was Sessions’ high quality smoked pork sausage that put his company on the map. Customer demand for the sausage made the family butcher 250 hogs a week to satisfy these cravings. Today the 100 employee company makes 35,000- 40,000 pounds of sausage a week. Henry’s son John Crum Sessions and his grandson, John Henry sessions, now run the company, which has a gift shop. The smokey aroma from the plant pulls north Florida and Gulf Coast beachgoers of I-65. To many this smell is the ‘smell of the beach.’ They call it ‘aromatic advertising.’
John Crum Sessions, current owner of Conecuh Sausage Company.
While I had this amazing sausage in jambalaya, I also had it the next morning at the historic Kate Shepard House – run by delightful proprietors Wendy and Bill James – alongside scrambled eggs and praline French toast made by Wendy. It’s also good in gumbo and probably would be great in split pea soup or any dish that would be complimented with hickory smokiness. John Sessions’ wife, Sheila, makes his favorite version in pork and beans.
The praline French toast and Conecuh sausage with eggs breakfast by Wendy James at the historic Kate Shepard house in Mobile, Alabama.
The sausage comes in small links and normal links, in hot and spicy, hickory smoked and Cajun smoked. It can be found in 21 states at Publix, Costco, Walmart, Piggly Wiggly, Rouse’s, Kroger, and many others. I am hoping to either find it or bring it to Cincinnati, so I can experiment with it in many more southern and Yankee dishes. It’s simply amazing sausage!!