A Review of Duke’s Smoked Shorty Sausages

When I discovered Duke’s Smoked Shorty Sausages, I was skeptical.  I absolutely love smoked meat and was sure that something packaged couldn’t match up to what you pull out of the smokehouse. I may have to re-think that.

Is it just me or does he look like Mike Rowe?

If you don’t have experience with smoked meats, think beef jerky – but not so tough. I really don’t like working that hard for a snack haha.

When traveling between Victoria and Houston, I would always make it a point to stop by Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse and get me a couple links of smoked beef or pork sausage. It was the only place other than the smokehouse of friends and family that I could get my fix. Those of you who know what a BBQ snob I am will understand that translates to smoked meat as well.

Now that I rarely take that trip down Highway 59, I get my smoked meat fix  at Buc-ees, but it is quite pricey and not as good as I remembered from Prasek’s.

So how did Justin ‘Duke’ Havlick‘s smoked meats stack up? I took home a bag of the Original Recipe, ripped it open and was blow away. It was great! As the title mentions, I have found my new favorite snack food. When you add great flavor to the convenience of being available everywhere, it sure is a lot easier than driving all the way to Hillje.

No, it’s not as cheap as a bag of chips (about $7 for a 5 oz bag,) but it’s a far cry better for you than chips, tastier and with 7 grams of protein, little or no sugar or carbohydrates, no nitrates, no hormones and the fact that the pork is fresh and never frozen, it isn’t even in the same category. For me it always comes down to the taste.

I was already sold on the Original Recipe so my next goal was try the range of flavors.  Here are the ones I checked out along with my thoughts:

  • Original Recipe – the stick by which I measure all the rest, this is excellent.
  • Chorizo & Lime – not a big fan of lime, but the chorizo flavor is tasty
  • Hickory Peach BBQ – You had me at BBQ. haha The peach is subtle, as is the hickory, but pretty good overall.
  • Hot & Spicy – I was worried that it may be too spicy, but it isn’t too hot at all. It is very mild with just a hint of the Serrano peppers. I think I like this best because I won’t go overboard eating them
  • Hatch Green Chile – Hatch chile has been the rage for the past couple years and Duke’s adds their take to it. Overall, its pretty good but I like the other spicy one better.

They also have cute saying written on the bottom of each bag.  As a marketing guy, small things like this are always a nice touch:

“If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, don’t use it.”

“I don’t like shortcuts, they leave a bad taste in your mouth.”

“Last I heard, smoke wasn’t a liquid.”

“Small batches give you control. Control is quality’s best pal.”

“Craft. When we say it, we mean it.”

I’ve been told many times that I should be a food critique. When sitting at new restaurant, I tend to really analyze the food. I will say things like, “I taste a bit of vanilla” or “the flavor is kind of subdued at first and then it sorta sneaks up on you.” Hmmm… maybe I can marry my love of snacking with my interest in sharing taste impressions?

Note: When I started to taste these and write this review, my diet was much more meat-friendly.  I have since moved away from a lot of snack foods so won’t be eating these even on a weekly basis. Rather, I am allowing myself a bit of a cheat day once a week when snacks like this will be on the menu.

What do you think?  Have you tried them?  Do you know of something else I should try?

by Chris Doelle