I don’t think the word “salumi” entered my vocabulary until a couple of years ago, but when it did—hoooo, boy! Suddenly, cured meats are everywhere, on restaurant menus, on pizzas and sandwiches, as the backbone of my favorite gourmet market in Boulder. Heck, I even know a nice young couple in Lyons who cure their own.
But for Kathy Laurienti, sausage is nothing new.
Thirty-eight years ago, Kathy Laurienti’s husband started Paisano Sausage Company with a friend, producing fresh Italian sausage, mostly for local Italian restaurants. But business had begun to decline and when Kathy’s husband passed away last year, she knew she needed a fresh start.
Paisano’s is still going strong, turning out delicious fresh Italian sausages, but now it has a sister company in the North Denver Sausage Company, producing traditional Italian dry sausage. The company is still small, with only hot and regular sausage available right now, but Kathy has big plans including adding a jalapeño sausage, a pepperoni flavor, and a sopresatta.
The sausage itself is rich and flavorful. I personally preferred the hot variety, and I recently added it to a paella where it added a fascinating heat and textural element to the dish. The one place where Kathy isn’t a traditionalist is in how she serves the sausage—anything goes! We tried it dipped in grape jelly, marshmallow fluff, caramel sauce (my favorite), and even French onion dip. Hey, whatever works, right??
North Denver Sausage Company is truly a labor of love for Kathy, who still works stuffing the sausages herself every day. They make up to 1,500 pounds of sausage a day in their north Denver storefront and ship worldwide via their website.
|Paella with Seafood and Sausage||
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 oz dry Italian sausage
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed
- 3/4 C rice
- 8 oz bottled clam juice
- 1/2 C water
- 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 C green peas
- 16 Manzanilla olives
- 3/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 lb sea scallops
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and dry sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saffron and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 1 additional minute.
- Add the clam juice and 1/4 cup of the water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the tomatoes, peas, olives, and remaining water, then cover and return to a simmer. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the rice is nearly done. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the seafood is opaque and just cooked through. Serve immediately.
(Please excuse the less-than-beautiful photos! Sometimes, you just do the best you can with an iPod.)