High clouds and parachutists dot the sky. This is not the Chicago Stockyards from Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle. Hometown Sausage Kitchen is located on Highway L, East Troy on a bucolic farm down from the Sky Knights Parachute Club connected to the East Troy Airport. Besides the residence, John Hudoc, Tom Cicero, and Lynn Lein have a retail store and processing facility and an outdoor landscaped pavilion for events. The grass is a deep green and the flowers abundant.
John and Tom, chefs from a previous life, traded their chef coats for butchers’ frocks, hair nets and hats, gloves, and covered shoes. The look is not so stylish, but efficient and sanitary. The stainless steel equipment glistens with use. The smell of spices and fresh meat fill the rooms. John has only a minute to talk but breaks from slicing bacon to welcome me. Nearly an hour later I left with a handful of sausages, bacon, and cuts of pork to give to Gil and Oscar to try for a new menu.
Hometown Sausage Kitchen, a vestige of butcher shops of 30 years ago, offers an alternative to staring down at a sea of plastic-wrapped foam trays at your local department store. It’s a major turnaround in the way meat has been bought and sold. Some 40 or so years ago, cattle was shipped to the Stockyards at the railroad crossroads in Chicago where it was butchered. The beef was then shipped to the nation’s meatpacking plants in the form of whole carcasses, or “rail beef.” Later the big Midwestern packing houses started shipping what was called “boxed beef,” primal cuts packed in Sealed Air’s airtight product, Cryovac. Now, butchers like those at Hometown Sausage Kitchen are carving whole animals again, displaying the cuts on butcher paper. John and Tom will speak with you, answering questions about how to cook their meat, what are the best seasonings, and what wine will pair best with a certain cut of meat.
John and Tom source their ingredients and meats from area farmers, creating delicious artisan sausages and custom meat products. Hometown specializes in fresh ground pork and poultry sausages with over 20 different varieties and small batched products that include signature bacons, hams and poultry. Stop by their shop and talk to the person who processed the meat you are buying.